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OurWeek In Politics (April 8, 2020-April 15, 2020)

Here are the main events that occurred in Politics this week:

1.Bernie Sander Drops Out Of Democratic Primary Race Amid Declining Poll Numbers

Amid declining poll numbers, Senator Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

Senator Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign on April 8, clearing Joe Biden’s path to the Democratic nomination and a showdown with President Donald Trump in November. Sanders first announced his decision in a call with his staff, his campaign said. “I wish I could give you better news, but I think you know the truth, and that is that we are now some 300 delegates behind Vice President Biden, and the path toward victory is virtually impossible,” Sanders said in a Livestream after the call. “So while we are winning the ideological battle and while we are winning the support of so many young people and working people throughout the country, I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful. And so today I am announcing the suspension of my campaign.” Sanders’ exit caps a stunning reversal of fortune following a strong performance in the first three states that voted in February. The nomination appeared his for the taking until, on the last day of February, Biden surged to a blowout victory in South Carolina that set off a consolidation of moderate voters around the former Vice President. The contest ends now as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, which halted in-person campaigning for both Sanders and Biden and has led many states to delay their primary elections.

Senator Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign on April 8, clearing Joe Biden’s path to the Democratic nomination and a showdown with President Donald Trump in November. Sanders first announced his decision in a call with his staff, his campaign said. “I wish I could give you better news, but I think you know the truth, and that is that we are now some 300 delegates behind Vice President Biden, and the path toward victory is virtually impossible,” Sanders said in a Livestream after the call. “So while we are winning the ideological battle and while we are winning the support of so many young people and working people throughout the country, I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful. And so today I am announcing the suspension of my campaign.” Sanders’ exit caps a stunning reversal of fortune following a strong performance in the first three states that voted in February. The nomination appeared his for the taking until, on the last day of February, Biden surged to a blowout victory in South Carolina that set off a consolidation of moderate voters around the former Vice President. The contest ends now as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, which halted in-person campaigning for both Sanders and Biden and has led many states to delay their primary elections.

Senator Bernie Sanders’ departure from the race is a sharp blow to progressives, who rose up during and after the 2016 campaign and commanded the Democratic Party’s Trump era debates over issues like health care, climate change and the effects of growing economic inequality. “Few would deny that over the course of the past five years, our movement has won the ideological struggle,” Sanders said. “It was not long ago that people considered these ideas radical and fringe. Today, they are mainstream ideas. Many of them are already being implemented in cities and states across the country.” But even as his policies grew more popular over the years and into the primary season, the Vermont senator struggled to broaden his own support and galvanize a winning coalition. Now, as he did after leaving the 2016 primary, Sanders will seek to influence the presumptive nominee through the means he knows best, from the outside-in.

In a statement after Bernie Sanders’ announcement, Joe Biden called the senator a “powerful voice for a fairer and more just America” and said his campaign’s impact on the election is far from over. He also made an explicit call for Sanders’ supporters to join him. “And to (Sanders’) supporters I make the same commitment: I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country. I hope you will join us. You are more than welcome. You’re needed,” Biden said. Bernie Sanders also acknowledged on April 8 that some of his supporters would be disappointed by his exit. “I know that there may be some in our movement who disagree with this decision, who would like us to fight on until the last ballot cast at the Democratic convention. I understand that position,” he said. “But as I see the crisis gripping the nation, exacerbated by a President unwilling or unable to provide any kind of credible leadership, and the work that needs to be done to protect people in this most desperate hour, I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win, and which would interfere with the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour.”

Less than two months ago, Senator Bernie Sanders appeared poised to run away with the nomination after a strong performance in Iowa and victories in New Hampshire and Nevada, the latter by more than 25 percentage points, on the strength of his popularity with Latino voters, which had been courted relentlessly by his campaign. But Sanders’ momentum was dashed in South Carolina. Joe Biden routed the field and then cleared it. The anti-Sanders vote rallied around him and, even with Sanders’ win in California, put Biden in the driver’s seat on Super Tuesday. The wind at his back, the former Vice President duplicated the feat a week later, delivering the hammer blow in Michigan, a state Sanders won in 2016 and viewed as crucial to his prospects in 2020. A day earlier, public safety measures in response to the coronavirus effectively ended the campaign roadshow. Sanders would return to Vermont, where he has spent most of his time since, while Biden set up headquarters at home in Delaware. The Sanders fundraising machine, the most successful grassroots donor effort in American political history, was over the last month re-purposed into a feeder for public health groups.


2. Saudi Arabia Announces Temporary Ceasefire In The Yemen Civil War

In a surprising move, Saudi Arabia announced a temporary ceasefire in the Yemen Civil War this week.

Saudi Arabia on April 8 announced that the kingdom and its allies would observe a unilateral cease-fire in the war in Yemen, a move that could pave the way for ending the brutal five-year-old conflict. Saudi officials said the cease-fire sought to jump-start peace talks brokered by the United Nations and had been motivated by fears of the coronavirus spreading in Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, where the health care system has been ravaged by years of blockade and conflict. The gesture is the first by any government entangled in an international armed conflict to halt hostilities at least in part because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has traumatized the world. The leader of the United Nations, Secretary-General António Guterres, pleaded for a worldwide humanitarian cease-fire two weeks ago because of the pandemic.

While Yemen is one of the few countries in the world yet to have a confirmed case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, aid workers fear that an outbreak there would be devastating for the war-torn country. Saudi Arabia itself has struggled to stop the virus from spreading, including inside its own sprawling royal family. The cease-fire, the Saudi officials said, would last for two weeks and include Saudi Arabia’s Arab allies and the internationally recognized Yemeni government, which was effectively toppled in 2014 when the Houthis, a Shi’a sociopolitical group, took over much of the Northern part of Yemen. Saudi Arabia and its allies have been fighting since March 2015 to push the Houthis back and restore the Yemeni government, with little success.

After the cease-fire was announced, Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister, wrote on Twitter that the kingdom would give the United Nations $500 million for humanitarian work in Yemen and $25 million to fight the coronavirus. Despite the cease-fire’s tenuousness, Martin Griffiths, the United Nations special envoy to Yemen, hailed the announcement in a statement, saying it should create a fertile environment for peace talks. “The parties must now utilize this opportunity and cease immediately all hostilities with the utmost urgency, and make progress towards comprehensive and sustainable peace,” Griffiths said. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations described Yemen as the world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster. A large majority of the country’s 28 million people face hunger, disease and other deprivations.

3. Due To Coronavirus, International Economy Likely To Enter Into Steepest Downturn Since Great Depression

Due to the Coronavirus, the international economy is expected to enter into the steepest economic downturn in nearly a century in 2020-21.

The global economy will this year likely suffer the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the International Monetary Fund said on April 14, as governments worldwide grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Washington-based organization now expects the global economy to contract by 3% in 2020. By contrast, in January it had forecast a global GDP (gross domestic product) expansion of 3.3% for this year. “It is very likely that this year the global economy will experience its worst recession since the Great Depression, surpassing that seen during the global financial crisis a decade ago [as well as the recession of 1980-82],” Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s chief economist, said in the latest World Economic Outlook report. In January, the IMF had an estimated 3.4% growth for global GDP in 2021; this has now been revised up to 5.8% (although growth is expected to be coming from a lower base following 2020′s projected contraction).

Speaking to CNBC, Gita Gopinath said: “This is a crisis where the economic shock is something that is not exactly controlled by economic policy,” as it’s unclear when the pandemic will end. The IMF’s chief economist also said that in comparison to the Great Depression, “we are (now) better off on the health front. On the economic front, I think it makes a big difference that there are lenders of last resort, that monetary policy is proactively able to come in and ensure enough liquidity in markets, that fiscal policy is able to play a major role in supporting firms and households.” The IMF expects a “partial recovery” in 2021, provided that the pandemic eases throughout this year.

The dramatic downgrade in this year’s growth expectations comes as other institutions also warn that the coronavirus outbreak is bringing massive economic challenges. The World Trade Organization said last week that global trade will contract by between 13% and 32% this year. The Organization for Economic Coordination and Development has also warned the economic hit from the virus will be felt “for a long time to come.” To contain the spread of the virus, many governments have implemented lockdown measures, only allowing people to leave their houses to purchase groceries, medicines and, in some cases, to exercise. As a result, business activity has stalled in many countries. Speaking at a press conference, Gita Gopinath explained: “the magnitude and speed of collapse in the [economic] activity that has followed (the lockdown) are unlike anything we’ve experienced in our lifetimes.”

There is severe uncertainty about the duration and intensity of the economic shock, and stimulating economic activity is more challenging given the required social distancing and isolation policies. The IMF said it had received “an unprecedented number of calls for emergency funding.” Out of its 189 members, more than 90 of them have asked for financial support. The fund, which provides financing to members who are struggling economically, has $1 trillion in lending capacity. When speaking to CNBC, Gita Gopinath said: “When you have a deep recession of this kind, there is always, unfortunately, tremendous loss of income for people at the lower end of the income scale, so poverty can go up, inequality can go up.”

The latest forecasts from the IMF suggest that the US economy will contract by 5.9% this year. In comparison, the eurozone is expected to shrink by 7.5%, but China is seen growing by 1.2% in 2020. The economic situation will be particularly difficult in Italy and Spain, where GDP is set to contract by 9.1% and 8%, respectively. These two countries are the worst hit in Europe by COVID-19. Both have higher numbers of infections and deaths than China, where the virus first emerged in late 2019. The IMF is advising countries to focus on the health crisis first, by spending on testing, medical equipment, and other healthcare-related costs. It also said that governments should provide tax deferrals, wage subsidies and cash transfers to the most-affected citizens and firms; as well as to prepare for the lifting of lockdown measures.

4. New York, Six Other States Announce Joint Coordination Efforts To Ease Restrictions When Coronavirus Pandemic Ends

In a major rebuke to President Donald Trump, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week that he would be working with six neighboring states to coordinate efforts to ease economic restrictions put into place due to the spread of the Coronavirus.

On April 13, it was announced that officials in New York and six neighboring states will collaborate on plans to ease restrictions that have ground life to a halt amid the Coronavirus pandemic. The governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Delaware said that they will work together to coordinate plans to reopen the region’s economies, the same day New York passed the grim milestone of 10,000 deaths from COVID-19, with more than 195,000 cases statewide. “State boundaries mean very little to this virus,” Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) said during a press conference announcing the coordinated effort. “Let’s be smart and let’s be cooperative, and let’s learn from one another. Starting on April 14, top health and economic officials from across the Northeast will form a working group to “study the data, study the research, study the experience of other countries, and give us guidelines and parameters to go forward,” Cuomo said. Other nearby states, such as Vermont, are in talks with the coalition, which will result in a plan within the coming weeks, officials said.

The governors, all of whom are Democrats with the exception of Massachusetts, stressed the importance of coordinating their efforts as not to cause an unintentional flare-up of the virus by relaxing restrictions too quickly or in isolation of other neighboring governments. “If the protocols on one side of the Hudson for a restaurant or a bar are different than the other, you could have inadvertent unintended consequences which could be grave,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “Reopening ourselves back up will be equally challenging.” In another example of the states’ interconnected economies, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont noted that the bulk of his state’s COVID-19 cases have emerged along the I-95 and Metro-Noth corridor, which he called the “commuter corridor but also the COVID corridor.”

The collaboration is seemingly a rebuke to President Donald Trump who insisted in a Twitter Post that he alone can declare the United States reopen for business. Asked whether the collaboration would supersede a federal plan, Andrew Cuomo acknowledged that federal action would “trump the state plan, pardon the pun if it fits within the constitution of the law.” Governors across the region emphasized that officials’ decisions will be based on facts and science, and chiefly, that economic recovery can only occur in the wake of public health recovery. “The sequence,” said Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, “is you’ve got to get people healthy first, and then you can reopen the economy.”

Matthew Rosehttp://ourpolitics.net
Matt studies and analyzes politics at all levels. He is the creator of OurPolitics.net, a scholarly resource exploring political trends, political theory, political economy, philosophy, and more. He hopes that his articles can encourage more people to gain knowledge about politics and understand the impact that public policy decisions have on their lives. Matt is also involved in the preservation of recorded sound through IASA International Bibliography of Discographies, and is an avid record collector.

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