Top Idaho Concern: Coronavirus and Schools

Which got the most traction last week–Federal forces providing ‘law and order’ in Portland or the public’s response to the continued escalation of coronavirus cases?

Stated another way–did President Trump’s campaign succeed in replacing his image as a failure in handling our national pandemic with one of him as a no-nonsense, ‘law-and-order’ president?

The Trump campaign spent millions this month promoting Trump as saving Americans from violent crime. One ad shows a little old lady getting attacked in her home while no one is on duty to answer her 9-1-1 call. The tag-line is,“You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.” 

But Vice President Biden doesn’t support cuts in police services. (For the record–Bernie Sanders doesn’t either.)  According to the Washington Post, although Biden has proposed requiring police departments to reach certain “levels of decency” before receiving Federal grants, he hopes to budget an additional $300 million a year for the community policing program.

Another ad scene is captioned “CHAOS & VIOLENCE” and shows helmeted protestors beating a downed police officer. The photo was taken during a 2014 riot in the Ukraine (Washington Post, July 24).  Apparently, no photo exists showing U.S. protesters violent enough for campaign material.    

President Trump echoed his strong man stand in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity.  “We’ll go into the cities–all of the cities. We’ll put in 50,000, 60,000 people that really know what they are doing.  And they are strong, tough, and we can solve these problems so fast.”

Yet, I didn’t talk to a voter this week who was worried about protests, counter-protests, or violence. 

Canyon voters are worried about the coronavirus.  

Parents talk about how afraid they are to have their kids returning to school and how much the kids want to go. They talk about the difficulty of having kids working online at home while they must be at their jobs. And they talk about the fears they have for family members, including a child with asthma.

School employees–aides and bus drivers–fear their jobs won’t be there as online instruction eats up resources. Teachers sound both determined and nervous about making classes this fall work. 

And almost all worry that schools will have to close again.        

Coronavirus was also the chief concern of the U.S. Senate last week.  With benefits from the CARES Act ending and a months-old House bill aging on Mitch McConnell’s desk, Senate Republicans excluded Democrats and went about creating a new relief bill in a manner reminiscent of the babel that produced that health care bill that failed. 

Some Republicans insist on another round of $1200 payments to taxpayers and a healthy boost to unemployment payments so consumers can keep the economy from tanking. Others, notably Senator Ted Cruz, argue additional benefits to individuals rather than businesses would anger Republican voters (i.e. donors). 

And President Trump is his own faction. He objects to funding coronavirus tests; everyone around him has one daily, but he wants others to have fewer, not more. He wants unemployment benefits to be no more than 70% of a persons’ regular salary, not a one-size-fits-all $100 or $200. He is pushing to cut payroll taxes–which fund Social Security and Medicare–so those employed will spend more money. 

But he might negotiate these items if the $1 trillion relief bill includes a new FBI Building to replace the aging one across the street from the Trump Hotel.   

Republicans seem to agree on shielding businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits and funding $105 billion for reopening schools. They need businesses open and parents working no matter how bad the pandemic.       


Published by Judy Ferro

Judy Ferro is communication director for the 2C Dems and a columnist for the Idaho Press.

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