America’s shamefully slow coronavirus testing threatens all of us

“Accurate testing is critical to stopping an outbreak: When one person gets a confirmed diagnosis, they can be put in isolation where they won’t spread the disease further. Then their contacts can be identified and put into quarantine so they don’t spread the virus if they’ve become infected, too.”

Trump’s explanation for abruptly replacing the acting intel director with a loyalist doesn’t make sense

“the talking point the Trump administration is using to dispel concerns that Maguire’s dismissal was politically motivated doesn’t carry water.”

“Maguire’s ouster may be part of Trump’s broader effort to get rid of government officials he perceives as being insufficiently loyal. On Sunday, Jonathan Swan reported for Axios that the Trump administration has “assembled detailed lists of disloyal government officials to oust — and trusted pro-Trump people to replace them.””

Are Quarantines a Proportionate Response to the Coronavirus?

“Are quarantines a proportionate response to the threat that COVID-9 poses in the United States? “I don’t think that we have seen enough proof, in any cases, that quarantine is necessary for this particular virus,” bioethicist Kelly Hills told Business Insider last month. “It doesn’t meet what we would consider the minimum standards necessary for violating somebody’s civil rights.”

In a Journal of the American Association commentary published last month, bioethicists Lawrence Gostin and James Hodge argued that “quarantines of passengers arriving from mainland China appear excessive and are inconsistent with available epidemiologic data.” They noted that “thousands of US residents who have returned from China are already sheltering at home,” adding that “home quarantine orders are lawful, effective, and more respectful of individual rights to liberty and privacy than restrictive, off-site measures.”

The Cato Institute’s Alex Nowrasteh argues that “extreme options like travel and immigration bans” would be more expensive than can be justified based on what we currently know about COVID-9. “The cheapest and most effective way to combat the transmission of flu-type viruses is proper hand hygiene,” he notes, recommending increased use of hand sanitizers, especially at airports and nursing homes.

Nowaresteh also notes that mass quarantines can backfire. “It’s difficult to know who is sick and who is not, so quarantines end up locking many sick people in with many healthy people,” he writes. “Healthy people and those who think they are healthy understand accurately that they would reduce their chance of becoming ill if they emigrate. By doing that, some people transmit the disease. Under some scenarios, the stricter the quarantine, the more people invest in emigrating. Sometimes, this behavioral response results in wider transmission of the disease.”

In a society that values civil liberties, forcibly detaining people who may be carrying a disease that is readily transmissible but has a relatively low case fatality rate is not a step that should be taken lightly. And assuming it can be justified, the burdens it imposes should be mitigated as much as possible.”

Trump’s rule creating a wealth test for immigrants is now in effect

“A rule that creates new barriers to low-income immigrants seeking to enter the US went into effect on Monday, bringing to fruition the kind of vast restrictions on legal immigration that President Donald Trump has long sought.

The so-called “public charge” rule, published in August by the Department of Homeland Security, establishes a test to determine whether an immigrant applying to enter the US, extend their visa, or convert their temporary immigration status into a green card is likely to end up relying on public benefits in the future.

Immigration officials will now have more leeway to turn away those who are “likely to be a public charge” based on an evaluation of 20 factors, ranging from the use of certain public benefits programs — including food stamps, Section 8 housing vouchers, and Medicaid — to English language proficiency.”

“Trump has justified the rule as a means of ensuring that immigrants are “financially self-sufficient” and has argued it will “protect benefits for American citizens.””

“The rule, which has been anticipated for more than a year, has had a chilling effect already: Noncitizens have been needlessly dropping their public benefits out of fear that they will face immigration consequences. It’s difficult to quantify just how many immigrants have unenrolled already, but one survey suggested that about one in seven had done so as of 2018.

Many immigrants aren’t eligible for public benefits unless they have green cards or certain humanitarian protections — and not all public benefits are available to noncitizens.”

“It also makes getting into the US much harder for immigrants sponsored by family members, the phenomenon Trump has excoriated as “chain migration.”

The rule is only one of several policies the Trump administration has pursued to dramatically shift which immigrants are legally able to come to the United States. Under Trump, the legal immigration system increasingly rewards skills and wealth over family ties to the US, while shutting out a growing number of people from low-income backgrounds.”

“With the public charge regulation, Trump is painting immigrants as abusing public benefits. But they are actually “less likely to consume welfare benefits and, when they do, they generally consume a lower dollar value of benefits than native-born Americans,” according to the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.”

“few immigrants would end up being penalized, under the final version of the rule, for using public assistance. But the rule has already been effective in dissuading many immigrants from continuing to access the public benefits they need.”

Tom Steyer’s push for term limits is a truly awful idea

“A 2006 report from the National Conference of State Legislatures examined states with term-limited lawmakers. It determined that term limits tend to increase the influence of lobbyists and lead to a “decline in civility” that “reduced legislators’ willingness and ability to compromise and engage in consensus building.”

Term-limited lawmakers, the NCSL explained, “have less time to get to know and trust one another” and “are less collegial and less likely to bond with their peers, particularly those from across the aisle.”

Such lawmakers often do not have enough time to learn how the legislature works or to master difficult policy issues. And they can’t turn to senior colleagues to give them this information because there are no senior colleagues. That “forces term-limited legislators to rely on lobbyists for information,” because lobbyists are able to spend years mastering legislative process and developing institutional memory about recurring policy debates.”

“term limits may foster laziness in lawmakers because, as Nyhan writes, “incumbents who lack a reelection incentive can reduce the effort they devote to their jobs.” He cites an empirical study showing that term-limited lawmakers sponsor fewer bills and are more likely to miss votes.”

No, Stimulus Spending Wouldn’t Be an Economic Vaccine Against the Coronavirus

“as doctors will tell you, administering vaccines to patients with weakened immune systems can be disastrous. Given the United States’ already perilous national debt and rising deficit, the White House and Congress should be cautious about spending additional money to avoid a coronavirus-caused recession—especially since the “vaccine” doesn’t seem like a sure bet.”