FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Enacting restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is more important than removing them to get the economy going, according to a majority of Virginia voters polled this month.
The poll conducted by Hampton University and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 62% think the biggest priority for their community is to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, even if it hurts the economy, while 35% said removing restrictions to help the economy, even if more people get the virus, is the bigger priority.
John Bordeaux, 61, of Lorton, is among those who said controlling the virus is a greater priority. He said he’s worried that younger people are willing to risk prolonged potential exposure at bars and other indoor gathering places, just because statistics show that older people are more vulnerable.
“I don’t think we know enough to make that assessment,” particularly when it comes to how the virus is transmitted, said Bordeaux, a policy researcher.
Paul Gilbert said he’d rather see restrictions removed, if he had to choose, but that those two opposing choices don’t really reflect his thinking. More than anything, he said, he just wants the choices to be guided by science rather than politics, wherever that leads.
“If we don’t get out of this thing, there’s not going to be an economy to worry about,” said Gilbert, 42, a disabled veteran from Suffolk.
Like other states, Virginia has debated the degree to which the economy and society should be open as the pandemic stretches on, and the coronavirus response has been a key issue in the presidential campaign. In Virginia, the politics of that debate have featured frequent barbs from President Donald Trump directed at Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam.
In April, during some of the strictest coronavirus restrictions, Trump tweeted “LIBERATE VIRGINIA,” an apparent reference to both gun control measures and COVID-19 restrictions. While both Trump and Northam, a physician, contracted the coronavirus, Trump has pushed for a “return to normal” and mocked the use of masks to prevent the virus’s spread, while Northam has advocated masks and other measures to keep the virus in check.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, respondents’ views on the coronavirus reflect a partisan divide. About 9 in 10 Democrats emphasized the importance of using restrictions to stop the virus from spreading. About 7 in 10 Republicans emphasized the importance of removing virus restrictions to help the economy.
The poll shows that between September and October, the standing of Northam and other Democrats improved somewhat. Northam’s favourability rating is now 49%, up slightly from 42% of those responding to a Hampton University/AP-NORC poll last month.
The Democratic presidential ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris showed similar improvements. Biden’s favourability rating ticked up slightly, from 47% to 52%, while positive ratings of Harris increased somewhat from 42% to 50%.
Positive views of Trump, meanwhile, remained roughly the same: 39% say they have a favourable opinion of the president, similar to 37% last month.
The poll also shows a significant shift in voting plans, with more people saying they plan to cast their ballot in person before Election Day. Voters have seen long lines at early polling places across the state in recent weeks.
In September, 54% said they would vote in person on Election Day, and 13% said they planned to vote early in person. The October poll showed just 39% planning to vote on Election Day, with another 31% planning to vote early in person.
Roughly 3 in 10 Virginia voters in both polls indicated plans to vote by mail.
The poll shows a deep divide between Republicans and Democrats about how they plan to vote, which might influence how returns come in on election night.
About 8 in 10 Democrats say they’re voting in advance of the election, including about 4 in 10 by mail and about another 4 in 10 early in person. By contrast, about two-thirds of Republicans say they will vote in person on Election Day.
About two-thirds of those who say they plan to vote on Election Day cite concerns over the counting of mail-in ballots as a major factor. Those planning to vote early in person cite a mix of factors, including concerns about counting mail-in ballots, the coronavirus and long lines on Election Day.
The AP-NORC/Hampton University poll of 887 registered voters in Virginia was conducted Oct. 6-12 by mail, with the option for respondents to take the survey online or by phone. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.
AP-NORC Center: http://www.apnorc.org/.
Matthew Barakat, The Associated Press
Biden Fills Yellen-Led Economy Team, Risks Clash on Budget Chief – BNN
President-elect Joe Biden rolled out the first set of nominations for his economic team on Monday, formally announcing his selection of Janet Yellen to be Treasury secretary, Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget and Cecilia Rouse to head the Council of Economic Advisers.
Biden also announced his intent to nominate Adewale Adeyemo, a former senior adviser at BlackRock Inc., to be deputy Treasury secretary. Adeyemo is a Nigerian-born attorney and president of the Obama Foundation.
“As we get to work to control the virus, this is the team that will deliver immediate economic relief for the American people during this economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than ever,” Biden said in a statement.
If confirmed, the nominations of Yellen, Tanden and Rouse would be the first time the top three Senate-confirmed economic positions went to women. Tanden’s nomination already appeared to be in trouble with Senate Republican aides expressing opposition on Sunday even before it was formally announced.
Biden has also tapped two economic advisers from his presidential campaign, Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey, to be members of the CEA.
Biden did not announce his pick for a key White House economic post, director of the National Economic Council. But Brian Deese, another BlackRock executive who served in the Obama administration, is likely to be offered the job, people familiar with the matter said.
Drew Brandewie, an aide to Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn, said on Twitter that Tanden “stands zero chance of being confirmed.”
Another aide said Republicans in the Senate would certainly block Tanden, who’s viewed as too progressive even though she’s also had squabbles with some on the left.
The choices show Biden turning to experienced Washington hands as he begins building his economic team, with an eye toward racial and gender diversity.
The group of six nominees includes three women, two African Americans and an Indian American as Biden seeks to put women and minorities in jobs historically held by White men.
He received some criticism from Representative Jim Clyburn, the most senior Black lawmaker in Congress, who is credited with helping Biden with the South Carolina primary, a win that sped his progress toward the nomination.
In an interview with Juan Williams for his column in The Hill newspaper, Clyburn indicated he was disappointed the president-elect had named just “one Black woman so far” to a senior position — Linda Thomas-Greenfield as United Nations ambassador.
“I want to see where the process leads to, what it produces,” Clyburn added. “But so far it’s not good.”
Tanden, an Indian-American who currently leads the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, worked on the Obama administration’s health-care reform and was a close adviser to Hillary Clinton.
Rouse also worked in the Obama administration as a member of the CEA and is currently dean of Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs. If confirmed, she would be the first African American to chair the CEA.
Adeyemo would bring international economic experience to the Biden team, complementing Yellen’s more domestic focus over the course of her academic and government career. Adeyemo was deputy chief of staff to Jack Lew when he was Treasury secretary and was the first chief of staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Elizabeth Warren.
Bernstein and Boushey are well liked by progressives. Boushey, who runs the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, has advocated for paid parental leave and raising the minimum wage. Bernstein was Biden’s chief economic adviser in the White House during President Barack Obama’s first term.
Biden’s team will inherit a U.S. economy rocked this year by the coronavirus pandemic, and will have to try to sustain its revival. There’s already signs of increasing fragility as virus infection rates increase and states begin to lock down businesses again. That threatens the nascent recovery of the labor market, with jobless claims ticking up and payroll gains forecast to slow further in November.
–With assistance from Katia Dmitrieva, Catarina Saraiva and Erik Wasson.
COVID-19 has sucked the oxygen out of the room on the climate economy – CBC.ca
The Niagara Falls of news releases into any journalist’s in-box attest that there is always plenty of contention for the moving spotlight of media attention.
As early as March of this year, the Pew Research Institute, a think-tank that studies media trends, observed that people had become “immersed in COVID-19 news.”
And while other issues have occasionally nudged the pandemic and its economic impact off centre stage, it is hard to think of many subjects that have so consistently hogged the limelight for so many months in a row.
According to one of Canada’s leading environmental economists, that single-minded focus has both diverted and delayed attention on a subject that he expected in 2020 would finally get its moment in the sun: climate change.
Shut out by pandemic
“For two months or even three, people like me were shut right out because ministers were dealing with aspects of COVID in cabinet,” said Mark Jaccard, one of Canada’s foremost climate scientists who is often described as an architect of the pioneering carbon-pricing scheme introduced by the B.C. Liberals back in 2008.
With what may have turned out to be bad timing, the Simon Fraser University professor’s political manual, The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success, finally hit bookstores in February — just before the pandemic began to dominate the news agenda.
While inevitably disappointed, the longtime adviser to governments on practical climate economic policy remains philosophical. Jaccard’s biggest idea — one that some climate activists may find frustrating — is that the only realistic path to defeating climate change is political action to install “climate-sincere” politicians and governments and then hold their feet to the fire.
While personal attempts to eat less meat, say, or buy an electric car make individuals feel good about themselves and may influence a few others, Jaccard insists that the short-term economic advantages of adding carbon to the atmosphere are so lucrative that they require concerted government action to push things the other way.
And putting political pressure on governments means garnering media and public attention, something harder to do when the whole world is worried about something that seems far more pressing — namely a deep economic recession caused by a deadly health crisis that just won’t go away.
“You have policy windows,” Jaccard said, referring to those moments such as after Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans and the surrounding area in 2005, or following the past year’s devastating forest fires in Australia and the U.S. west, when the public and politicians are forced to take climate issues seriously.
He said COVID-19 is just the 2020 version of a series of global events that have redirected attention away from the climate change issue just as it was beginning to take off.
‘We got really excited’
“We got really excited about the Kyoto Protocol in the late 1990s, and then along came 9/11 — and everyone got diverted with the U.S. wanting to invade countries in the Middle East,” Jaccard said, referring to terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
“And then you could say the same thing when we got excited about Hurricane Katrina, and you had Republicans and Democrats in the mid-2000s putting together policy … and China started to say, ‘Uh-oh we better get going.’ And then along came the  financial crisis.”
As the world, and especially Canada, seemed to be getting the pandemic under control during the summer, climate advocates were hoping their issue would come to the top of the agenda. But subsequent waves of the disease once again pushed COVID-19 stories to the top of the “most read” columns, narrowing the news hole for climate coverage.
While political analysts were expecting a nod to green spending in Monday’s fiscal update, they say short-term allocations will mostly be diverted, quite reasonably, to bailing out parts of the Canadian economy devastated by a new round of pandemic lockdowns.
Jaccard says that has added to delays, as the latest government plan — to use post-pandemic economic recovery spending to advance the green agenda in a way that will finally put Canada on a path to Paris 2030 — has meant previous policy plans and spending have been deferred.
Despite the latest postponement, Jaccard remains hopeful. Conversations with conservatives have left him with the impression that even a change of government would not prevent Canada from moving forward on the climate change agenda.
And while he thinks the Trudeau government remains “climate-sincere,” he says media attention is essential to keep pressure on the Liberals not to spend too much money on political feel-good plans, such as tree planting, at the expense of real measures to cut carbon output. As The Economist reported recently, growing trees in one place doesn’t mean they aren’t being cut down elsewhere, and natural systems tend to return their carbon back to the atmosphere.
“If you’re allowing someone to keep polluting and then you’re sort of convincing yourself that you have offset that or compensated it,” Jaccard said, “the careful evidence doesn’t support that.”
Part of Jaccard’s continued optimism is due to the election of what looks like a climate-sincere Democratic government south of the border that — even without the support of a Republican Senate — can begin to make greenhouse gas-limiting regulations.
The election of a Joe Biden presidency may have created a new “policy window,” he said, as the U.S. moves toward existing Canadian schemes such as the coal phaseout regulation, where Canada is a leader. Meanwhile, Jaccard expects a U.S. push toward such things as the clean fuel standard, which will coax Canada into following suit as manufacturers insist on one set of rules for all of North America.
Follow Don Pittis on Twitter: @don_pittis
Biden looks to fill out economic team with diverse picks – EverythingGP
Yellen became Federal Reserve chair in 2014 when the economy was still recovering from the devastating Great Recession. In the late 1990s, she was President Bill Clinton’s top economic adviser during the Asian financial crisis. Under Biden she would lead the Treasury Department with the economy in the grip of a surging pandemic.
If confirmed, Yellen would become the first woman to lead the Treasury Department in its nearly 232-year history. She would inherit an economy with still-high unemployment, escalating threats to small businesses and signs that consumers are retrenching as the pandemic restricts or discourages spending.
NEERA TANDEN, Office of Management and Budget director
Tanden is the president and CEO of the liberal think-tank Center for American Progress. She was the director of domestic policy for the Obama-Biden presidential campaign, but she first made her mark in the Clinton orbit.
Tanden served as policy director for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. Before that, she served as legislative director in Clinton’s Senate office and deputy campaign manager and issues director for Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign. She also served as a senior policy adviser in the Bill Clinton administration.
If confirmed, she would be the first woman of colour and the first South Asian woman to lead the OMB, the agency that oversees the federal budget.
BRIAN DEESE, director of the White House National Economic Council
Deese, a former senior economic adviser in the Obama administration and now the managing director and global head of sustainable investing at BlackRock, would be the top economic adviser in the Biden White House. He worked on the auto bailout and environmental issues in the Obama White House, where he held the title of deputy director of both the NEC and the OMB.
CECILIA ROUSE, chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers
Rouse is a labour economist and head of Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs. She served on the CEA from 2009 to 2011, and served on the NEC from 1998 to 1999 in the Clinton administration.
Notably, she organized a letter earlier this year signed by more than 100 economists calling for more government action to mitigate the fallout for Americans caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Rouse, who is Black, would be the first woman of colour to chair the CEA.
Biden is also expected to name Heather Boushey, the president and CEO of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, and Jared Bernstein, who served as an economic adviser to Biden during the Obama administration, to serve on the council. Both Boushey and Bernstein advised Biden during the presidential campaign.
Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe, Christopher Rugaber and Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.
Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
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