Trump’s bet on a vaccine could come at a cost

“The pursuit of a vaccine across federal health agencies has also forced tradeoffs. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, for example, has halted a push for lung treatments to fight the coronavirus, potentially putting a treatment option on the back burner.

The danger of going all in on a vaccine may be that President Donald Trump is pinning hopes on a miracle shot while there’s considerable reason to believe that the outbreak could stretch on for years.

“There’s no guarantee that a vaccine is going to work,” said Luciana Borio, who served as the FDA’s acting top scientist and worked on White House pandemic preparedness efforts earlier in the Trump administration. “And even if it does, there’s no guarantee that it’ll be the right product for most people, or that people will want to take it, or that the virus won’t mutate.”

Vaccines are notoriously difficult to make; the vaccine for mumps, the fastest ever developed, took four years. Many take far longer, and more still fail in animal or human testing and never reach the market. Public health experts say the U.S. government is making a risky bet by focusing so much of its pandemic response on the hope that a shot will end the coronavirus’ devastating march.”

If the US Postal Service fails, rural America will suffer the most

“The USPS is legally required to deliver all mail, to all postal addresses in all regions, at a flat rate, no matter how far it may have to travel. The service’s accessibility and affordability are especially important to rural communities that live in poverty and to people with disabilities, who can’t afford the cost of a private business to deliver their daily necessities. (In 2017, the rural poverty rate was 16.4 percent, compared with 12.9 percent for urban areas.)
And while some may argue that the USPS is becoming more obsolete as an increasing number of services are becoming digitalized, there’s still a large chunk of people who rely on mail because they have poor (or no) internet service. (The Federal Communications Commission estimates that 14.5 million people in rural areas lack access to broadband.) In fact, 18 percent of Americans still pay their bills by mail, according to an ACI Worldwide report; meanwhile, 20 percent of adults over 40 who take medication for a chronic condition get those pills by mail order, according to a survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association.

Then there are the several small towns around the country that vote only by mail because they’re not populated enough to open up polls. In Minnesota, for example, 130,000 receive a mailed ballot every election because they live in a town with fewer than 400 people.

“USPS isn’t just a public service,” Baker said. “It’s a lifeline.””

“The USPS was never really meant to operate as a business but as a public service, which is why it’s been able to keep its prices lower than private companies. Businesses like FedEx and UPS don’t build offices in remote rural areas, like deep in Wyoming or in the mountains of Colorado, because it’s simply not profitable. They often rely on the Post Office for last-mile delivery; the agency delivers mail for them from major transportation hubs to the final delivery destination, often in secluded areas.

This ultimately means that without the USPS, FedEx and UPS won’t have the resources to deliver to remote rural areas, nor will they likely make investments to do so since they’ll lose money in the process. Instead, people will have to bear the burden of traveling to the companies’ offices in larger towns to meet their mailing needs.”

“The USPS also serves a crucial role in ensuring that everyone has a right to vote by delivering mail-in ballots to the most remote areas of America. Several states allow those in small towns to vote by mail so that they don’t have to travel miles to their polling area in larger cities. It’s played a particularly important role in rural areas where the population is growing older — rural communities have the largest share of people above the age of 65 — and is less mobile than younger generations.”

How Mandatory Paid Leave Hurts Low-Income Workers

“Because paid leave is costly, when firms provide this benefit, they change the composition of their employees’ total compensation by reducing the value of workers’ take-home pay to offset the cost of providing paid leave. While some workers prefer this mix in their pay packages, others don’t. In particular, mandated leave would be a hard trade-off for many lower-paid women who would prefer as much of their income as possible in the form of take-home pay.

In fact, polls show that when women learn of the trade-offs inherent in any government-mandated paid-leave policy, their support for such a policy collapses.”

“A well-cited NBER paper looks at Denmark’s very generous paid leave policy and finds that before having children, women’s hours, employment, and wages are equal to those of men, but that these metrics all worsen relative to men after having children. Another recent NBER paper expands on this research and shows that while this divergence also exists in the United States, it’s significantly smaller here.”

Bernie Sanders’s new favorite Medicare-for-all study, explained

“Medicare-for-all could potentially save money, if provider payment rates are kept low and there isn’t an explosion in medical demand. It should save lives, based on what we know about what happens with mortality rates once people get insurance.

But it would be wise not to take the numbers too literally. There is a lot of guesswork in projecting what Medicare-for-all would cost and the effect it would have”

Trump Will Raid Pentagon’s War on Terror Slush Fund To Build His Border Wall

“As part of an overall plan to divert $3.8 billion from the Pentagon to pay for the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico, President Donald Trump is planning to drain about $1.6 billion from the slush fund that pays for much of America’s post-9/11 wars in the Middle East.

Foreign Policy’s Lara Seligman reports that the White House sent a memo to Congress on Thursday outlining plans to redirect military spending for the border wall. The administration plans to move $2.2 billion originally earmarked for purchasing vehicles, ships, and aircraft into an anti-drug trafficking program that has already been tapped to provide for wall construction costs. The other $1.6 billion in border wall funding will come from the budget used to pay for America’s foreign wars”

A new government study shows how Trump’s tariffs have backfired

“Economists Aaron Flaaen and Justin Pierce, who describe their study as “as the first comprehensive estimates of the effect of recent tariffs on the US manufacturing sector,” argue that the data shows that any benefits from protection from foreign competition have been more than canceled out by retaliatory tariffs from trading partners and an increase in the cost of components sourced from abroad.

As a result, US manufacturing has seen job losses and higher prices for consumers.”