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Political Wire logo Quote of the Day
Schumer Will Hold Vote on Legalizing Pot
Trump Calls for Boycott of Major League Baseball
Trump Isn’t Coming to Matt Gaetz’s Rescue
Matt Gaetz Boasted of ‘Access to Women’
Big Business Starts to Speak Out

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Let the Games Begin
      •  Gaetz' Troubles Mount
      •  Democrats Hope Johnson Breaks His Word
      •  Past as Prologue, Part II: Midterm Elections and the House
      •  Guess It Kinda Worked Out, After All
      •  COVID Diaries: No Light at the End of the Tunnel

Let the Games Begin

On Wednesday, Joe Biden unveiled his infrastructure plan (a description that utilizes the broadest definition of the word "infrastructure" that is humanly possible). On Thursday, the White House went a bit further, declaring that the administration wants to see the bill passed by this summer. That's an ambitious goal (summer begins in 80 days and ends in 174 days), and means it's time for the jockeying to get underway.

To start, in addition to setting a target date (well, a target season), the White House also announced the names of the five cabinet secretaries who will be tasked with selling the plan to the American people. They are: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. The list makes sense, given the responsibilities of the various executive agencies. After all, you don't really send the Attorney General or the Secretary of Defense on the road to peddle an infrastructure bill. This does have the (presumably unintended) effect that aspiring presidential candidate Buttigieg is going to get to explain to people why they should like getting money from the government, while competing aspiring presidential candidate Kamala Harris gets stuck trying to deal with the mess at the border. One of those tasks is just a wee bit easier than the other. Sometimes, that's how the cookie crumbles.

Meanwhile, in case there were any doubts whatsoever, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has no intention of working with the administration on this. "That package that they're putting together now, as much as we would like to address infrastructure, is not going to get support from our side," he decreed. "Because I think the last thing the economy needs right now is a big, whopping tax increase." Since Republicans become budget hawks the moment a Democratic president takes office, that means that McConnell's position is that he wants infrastructure improvements, but he does not want to pay for them with either taxes or with borrowing. Perhaps he would prefer to ask the money fairy for a couple of trillion bucks.

McConnell is obviously an enormously successful politician who has achieved great prominence and has exercised profound influence on the Senate. However, we just cannot figure out what he's doing these days. If his goal is to give the Biden administration permission to skip the bipartisanship, and/or to give Senate Democrats cover to alter the filibuster, then he's doing a heckuva job. Otherwise, however, his obstinacy would appear to be ill-advised. The COVID-19 bill remains enormously popular, and it's likely the infrastructure bill will be as well. In fact, preliminary evidence suggests that support for some elements of the infrastructure plan will be above 80%, which is unheard of in modern American politics. Does the GOP really want to run in 2022 with "we dug our heels in on extremely popular legislation, made no effort whatsoever to work with the President on that legislation, and so we get 0% of the credit for the benefits that resulted from that legislation" as their pitch?

Anyhow, the Republicans pooh-poohed the COVID-19 bill so rapidly and so loudly that Biden spent little time trying to get them on board. There's a little less time pressure here, so he may try a little harder this time, for appearances' sake if nothing else, but there's no doubt that he and his team will spend most of their energy whipping Democratic votes in both chambers of Congress. Many members of the Democratic caucus are unhappy with the proposal, for various reasons. However, their votes are vastly more gettable than those of, say, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) or Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). And so, the cranky Democrats will have a real chance to shape the bill, while the intransigent Republicans presumably won't.

The first hurdle that Team Biden is going to have to deal with is the $10,000 state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap that was imposed as part of the GOP tax cut in 2017. That cap tended to hurt taxpayers who have a high income and/or own a house, and who reside in a locality with substantial income or property taxes. Put another way, it was a poke in the eye for residents of the blue, blue states of California, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. Not surprisingly, members of the House from those states, particularly members from well-to-do districts, and particularly members from New Jersey and New York, are insistent that the cap be lifted, and the pre-2017 situation be restored.

On Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she is "sympathetic" with those representatives who want the SALT cap lifted, and that she hopes that can be worked into the infrastructure bill. For those who don't speak Speaker-speak, that translates to: "Um, Joe, I have virtually no margin for error here, and I may not be able to whip enough votes if the SALT cap is unchanged." Later in the day, the White House—where all staffers are fluent in Speaker-speak—quietly informed a few reporters that the administration is not likely to tinker with the SALT cap. That would blow a hole in the bill's financial math, and would also be a boon to wealthier Democrats, which runs contrary to Biden's "crusader for the working class" messaging.

This discussion is far from over, of course. Pelosi is capable of being far less subtle, and far more forceful than she was yesterday, if it comes to it. And Biden has already shown a tendency to stake out a visible public position, and then to be "dragged" to a different position (see filibuster, the). Odds are that the two Democrats hammer out a middle ground, liberalize the SALT cap somewhat, and find somewhere else (a slightly higher corporate tax rate?) to scrape together a couple hundred billion dollars. (Z)

Gaetz' Troubles Mount

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was in trouble enough when news broke that he was being investigated for allegedly having a multistate sexual relationship with a 17-year-old. If true, he'd be guilty of statutory rape and sex trafficking, which both carry hefty criminal penalties. If untrue (or true, but unproven), he's still likely to suffer serious political damage.

Things have not gotten better for the Representative since that news first broke. First of all, approximately nobody is buying his story that he's the victim of an extortion attempt, and that he and his father are working with the FBI to trap the guilty parties. And The Washington Post has now added more detail to the story that, if correct, would mean that Gaetz was indeed being dishonest. It appears that the truth is that someone did try to get money from the Gaetzes, but the money was to be used to continue the search for Robert A. Levinson, who was taken hostage in Iran in 2007 (and is widely presumed dead). The proposition, in essence, was that if Matt Gaetz' father Don found the money, and Levinson was located and repatriated, the positive press would help distract from the Congressman's legal woes. So Don did indeed wear a wire for the FBI, but he did so because the Bureau hoped to find information about its missing agent. That is rather different from what Matt Gaetz said (or, at least, strongly implied), namely that he was being blackmailed over his sexual past, and his father was helping to entrap the blackmailers.

But wait, there's more. It would seem that the investigation into Gaetz is also looking into the possibility that the Congressman used campaign funds to pay for his sexual adventures. If true, that would be one or more additional felonies. He's innocent until proven guilty, of course, but given that his salary was just $29,697 annually before being elected to Congress (and $174,000 annually thereafter), it would certainly explain how he had the means to lavish gifts on his paramours (something that he admits to doing, even while insisting that none of them was underage). If convicted of improper use of campaign funds, Gaetz would be the second Trump-loving Republican member of the House to get caught with his hand in that particular cookie jar, following in the footsteps of Duncan Hunter.

And it does not end there. News also broke on Thursday that Gaetz was in the habit of whipping out, and showing Republican colleagues in the house nude photos of the women he'd slept with. That's not a crime (unless the women were underage, in which case add production and distribution of underage pornography to the list). However, if true, it does speak to a certain arrogance, and to a habit of peacocking that is consistent with a belief that "laws about sexual conduct do not apply to me" (consider the parallels to Donald "Grab 'em by the pu**y" Trump). And, true or not, this is another thing that will not play well in the court of public opinion.

As Gaetz tries to weather the storm, not many of his colleagues are going to have his back, if any of them do. If your name is Trump, you can be as radioactive as Chernobyl, and it's apparently not a problem for most GOP politicians. But nobody else gets that privilege. Beyond his current criminal woes, which nobody wants to touch with a 10-foot pole, many of the Representative's colleagues are tired of his stunts, and don't much care for his personality. It's kind of like a particular senator whose last name also ends in 'Z.' Anyhow, nobody's going to be sticking their neck out to try to help save Gaetz. Indeed, it's worth pointing out that someone from the House Republican conference had to leak the story about the sharing of nude photos.

It would appear that the Representative knew that he was about to grow too hot for Washington to handle, and was in negotiations to retire immediately from Congress and to accept a cushy job as a commentator for Newsmax. However, he's now damaged enough that Newsmax apparently doesn't want him. Fox News and OAN also helpfully weighed in, and said they're not interested, either. Further, in an attempt to save himself, Gaetz tried to make Tucker Carlson a part of the story, claiming that Carlson knew the woman at the center of the trafficking investigation, and can confirm she was of legal age. Carlson is apparently infuriated by this, and so the fellow who might have been cheerleader/propagandist #1 for the Representative will not be getting involved.

In short, there is a lot of smoke here. Think "Santa Claus is stuck in the chimney"-level smoke. And usually, with that much smoke, there is at least some fire. And maybe a lot of fire. In other words, we do not recommend going to and investing in Matt Gaetz futures. If Gaetz departs Congress "for personal reasons," there will be a special election in FL-01 to replace him. His district is the westernmost one in the Florida panhandle, bordering on Alabama. It is R+22, so it might as well be part of Alabama. In fact, had it not been for some corrupt land deals back when Mississippi and Alabama were part of the state of Georgia, it might have been in Alabama. Culturally, it is still in Alabama. (Z)

Democrats Hope Johnson Breaks His Word

Speaking of Trump-loving members of Congress, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) promised, when he first ran for the Senate, that he would retire after two terms. If he keeps his word, he'd be done in January of 2023, and his seat would be open for next year's midterm elections. Normally, that would be the preferred situation for the Democrats, since incumbency grants, on average, about 3 points at the polls. However, in this particular situation, the members of the blue team are really hoping that Johnson runs again.

The Democrats' thinking here is plain. Johnson won his first Senate election by 5 points (52%-47%), and his second by 3 points (50%-47%). Since that second victory, he's veered hard rightward, becoming one of Donald Trump's most outspoken supporters (including siding with the former president in terms of overturning the 2020 election results), lambasting Black Lives Matter, working (unsuccessfully) to stop COVID-19 relief payments, and otherwise adopting stances more in line with a deep-red state like Alabama or Idaho than with a purplish state like Wisconsin (which, by the way, gave its EVs to Joe Biden). In addition, the Senator has only $500,000 or so in his campaign account, which is nowhere near enough to mount a successful campaign, and is also an indicator that voters are tepid on him. Oh, note also that voters don't love it when a person promises to run only twice, and then breaks that promise.

Thus far, Johnson has not revealed his plans for 2022, despite the fact that we're well into the "time to announce retirements" portion of the calendar. It could be that he likes his current job, and doesn't want to let it go, so he's really and truly trying to decide whether to run again. It could also be that he aspires to higher office, and he's already concluded he needs to try to hold on to his platform. After all, as they say, 100 senators look in the mirror in the morning and see a future president (well, maybe 99 of them, since Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-HI, is a naturalized citizen and is not eligible). Finally, don't discount the possibility that Johnson goes scorched earth here. He dislikes Mitch McConnell and the GOP establishment because they basically left him for dead in 2016. And, in Trumpian style, he might well want to stick it to them. So, Johnson could dither and dither and dither until it's too late for a Republican to mount a viable campaign. That would certainly stick it to the Minority Leader on the way out the door. (Z)

Past as Prologue, Part II: Midterm Elections and the House

On Tuesday, we took a look at past presidential retirements, with an eye toward figuring out how likely it is that Joe Biden retires after one term if his health remains good and his approval ratings remain strong (executive summary: It would be essentially unprecedented).

Today, let's use the same basic approach to examine what happens to the party that holds the White House in midterm elections for the House of Representatives. The conventional wisdom is that the president's party loses seats, and the conventional wisdom is largely on target. Only three presidents since the advent of the 435-seat House (Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934, Bill Clinton in 1998, and George W. Bush in 2002) saw their parties gain seats in a midterm election.

That does mean that it is at least possible for the party in power to hold on. Further, there is a significant difference between "lost a few seats" and "took a beating." So, we will try to figure out if Biden might be closer to the held on/lost a few seats end of the spectrum, or if he might be closer to the "took a beating" end of the spectrum. We'll look at four different data sets in search of some insight.

Before we begin, however, note two caveats. The first, of course, is that we are necessarily dealing with a small, eclectic sample. We're starting with FDR because he was the first president to spend his entire term with the statutory limit of 435 House seats (note that there was no midterm election during the period in which 435 was expanded to 437 to accommodate the admission of Hawaii and Alaska). That gives us just 23 elections to work with. Further, since those elections were often far apart from each other, they may be an apples to oranges comparison. In other words, maybe the midterm election of 1938 and the midterm election of 1990 were so different they really don't belong in the same chart.

Second, there is no great way to quantify the impact of extraordinary events, since it's hard to predict how voters will respond to those. FDR's gain in 1934 was clearly a response to his New Deal programs, Bill Clinton seems to have ridden a backlash against his impeachment in 1998 (though the trial was post-election, the scandal and the threat of impeachment emerged pre-election), and George W. Bush benefited from a "rally round the flag" effect in 2002. If the U.S. bounces back from COVID-19 this year, maybe Joe Biden will enjoy a similar bounce. On the other hand, voters weren't too impressed by the United States' success in prosecuting the war effort in 1942, nor by Lyndon B. Johnson's legislative successes (Great Society, civil rights) in 1966, to take two examples. So, you never know.

And with all of that said, let's now look at some data. We began by wondering if the key to the midterms is what happened in the presidential election (PE) immediately preceding. That is to say, if a bunch of House members rode a president's coattails into the House, maybe they lost their seats once the president was not on the ballot. This table shows how many seats the president's party gained or lost in the presidential election immediately before the midterm, and how many they gained or lost in the midterm (ME) itself:

Year President(s) PE +/- ME +/-
1934 Franklin D. Roosevelt 90 9
1950 Harry S. Truman 75 -28
1966 Lyndon B. Johnson 37 -47
1982 Ronald Reagan 34 -26
1946 Franklin D. Roosevelt/Harry S. Truman 24 -54
2010 Barack Obama 23 -63
1954 Dwight D. Eisenhower 22 -18
1986 Ronald Reagan 14 -5
1938 Franklin D. Roosevelt 12 -72
1974 Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford 12 -48
2014 Barack Obama 8 -13
1942 Franklin D. Roosevelt 7 -45
1970 Richard Nixon 5 -12
2006 George W. Bush 3 -32
1978 Jimmy Carter 1 -15
1958 Dwight D. Eisenhower -2 -48
1990 George H.W. Bush -2 -8
2002 George W. Bush -3 8
2018 Donald Trump -6 -40
1998 Bill Clinton -9 4
1994 Bill Clinton -10 -54
2022 Joe Biden -10 TBD
1962 John F. Kennedy -22 -4

As you can see, there is at least something to this. FDR was clearly a political genius or a superhero or something, and his party's pickup of 9 seats in an election immediately following one in which they picked up 90 is one of the great political feats of modern U.S. history. But beyond that, presidents who had big coattails tended to see their party suffer in the midterms. That said, it is also possible to have small coattails and suffer, as was the case with Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, Donald Trump in 2018, and Bill Clinton in 1994, among others.

The next data set focuses on where a party started, numbers-wise, heading into the midterm elections. It stands to reason that big caucuses are more likely to suffer big losses than smaller caucuses:

Year President(s) ME Seats ME +/-
1938 Franklin D. Roosevelt 334 -72
1934 Franklin D. Roosevelt 313 9
1966 Lyndon B. Johnson 295 -47
1978 Jimmy Carter 292 -15
1942 Franklin D. Roosevelt 267 -45
1950 Harry S. Truman 263 -28
1962 John F. Kennedy 262 -4
1994 Bill Clinton 258 -54
2010 Barack Obama 256 -63
1946 Franklin D. Roosevelt/Harry S. Truman 242 -54
2018 Donald Trump 240 -40
2006 George W. Bush 231 -32
2022 Joe Biden 222 TBD
1954 Dwight D. Eisenhower 221 -18
2002 George W. Bush 221 8
1998 Bill Clinton 207 4
1958 Dwight D. Eisenhower 201 -48
2014 Barack Obama 201 -13
1970 Richard Nixon 192 -12
1974 Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford 192 -48
1982 Ronald Reagan 192 -26
1986 Ronald Reagan 182 -5
1990 George H.W. Bush 175 -8

Of the four data sets, we would suggest this is the least instructive. It's true that the largest caucus on the list (334 Democrats in 1938) suffered the biggest loss, but the overall distribution here is pretty random. There are medium-to-big caucuses that largely held, or that didn't bleed too badly. And there are small caucuses that took a pounding.

Next up is the net approval of the president in the final Gallup Poll before the election:

Year President(s) Net App ME +/-
2006 George W. Bush -20% -32
1946 Franklin D. Roosevelt/Harry S. Truman -17% -54
2014 Barack Obama -12% -13
2018 Donald Trump -9% -40
1950 Harry S. Truman -7% -28
1982 Ronald Reagan -6% -26
2010 Barack Obama -2% -63
1994 Bill Clinton 0% -54
1966 Lyndon B. Johnson 3% -47
1978 Jimmy Carter 13% -15
1974 Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford 26% -48
1990 George H.W. Bush 26% -8
1958 Dwight D. Eisenhower 30% -48
1970 Richard Nixon 31% -12
2002 George W. Bush 33% 8
1986 Ronald Reagan 34% -5
1954 Dwight D. Eisenhower 35% -18
1962 John F. Kennedy 36% -4
1998 Bill Clinton 36% 4
1938 Franklin D. Roosevelt N/A -72
1942 Franklin D. Roosevelt N/A -45
1934 Franklin D. Roosevelt N/A 9
2022 Joe Biden TBD TBD

It's too bad that Gallup only started with Harry S. Truman, and so we don't have numbers for FDR. Still, this data set might be the most revealing of the four. A high net approval doesn't guarantee midterm success, but it clearly makes it much more likely. Meanwhile, a president with a middling net approval, or a negative net approval is going to be losing a lot of allies in the House on Election Day. For what it is worth, Joe Biden's current net approval in the Gallup Poll is +12% (which is actually his lowest so far; his highest was +20%).

And finally, it is possible that midterm elections are governed by a "throw the bums out" mentality, and the longer a party has held the White House, the more likely that party is going to be hammered in the midterms. Here's that data; "Years" is how many years the president's party had held the White House at that point.

Year President(s) Years ME +/-
1950 Harry S. Truman 18 -28
1946 Franklin D. Roosevelt/Harry S. Truman 14 -54
1942 Franklin D. Roosevelt 10 -45
1990 George H.W. Bush 10 -8
1938 Franklin D. Roosevelt 6 -72
1958 Dwight D. Eisenhower 6 -48
1974 Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford 6 -48
1966 Lyndon B. Johnson 6 -47
2006 George W. Bush 6 -32
2014 Barack Obama 6 -13
1986 Ronald Reagan 6 -5
1998 Bill Clinton 6 4
2010 Barack Obama 2 -63
1994 Bill Clinton 2 -54
2018 Donald Trump 2 -40
1982 Ronald Reagan 2 -26
1954 Dwight D. Eisenhower 2 -18
1978 Jimmy Carter 2 -15
1970 Richard Nixon 2 -12
1962 John F. Kennedy 2 -4
2002 George W. Bush 2 8
1934 Franklin D. Roosevelt 2 9
2022 Joe Biden 2 TBD

So much for that theory. Some presidents' parties do ok (or better) after 2, 6, or even 10 years in office. Others get punched in the mouth just 2 years in.

Here's all the data in one table, in case you want to look for combinations that might add up to good news (or bad) for the party in power:

Year President(s) PE +/- ME Seats Net App Bum Years ME +/-
1938 Franklin D. Roosevelt 12 334 N/A 6 -72
2010 Barack Obama 23 256 -2% 2 -63
1946 Franklin D. Roosevelt/Harry S. Truman 24 242 -17% 14 -54
1994 Bill Clinton -10 258 0% 2 -54
1958 Dwight D. Eisenhower -2 201 30% 6 -48
1974 Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford 12 192 26% 6 -48
1966 Lyndon B. Johnson 37 295 3% 6 -47
1942 Franklin D. Roosevelt 7 267 N/A 10 -45
2018 Donald Trump -6 240 -9% 2 -40
2006 George W. Bush 3 231 -20% 6 -32
1950 Harry S. Truman 75 263 -7% 18 -28
1982 Ronald Reagan 34 192 -6% 2 -26
1954 Dwight D. Eisenhower 22 221 35% 2 -18
1978 Jimmy Carter 1 292 13% 2 -15
2014 Barack Obama 8 201 -12% 6 -13
1970 Richard Nixon 5 192 31% 2 -12
1990 George H.W. Bush -2 175 26% 10 -8
1986 Ronald Reagan 14 182 34% 6 -5
1962 John F. Kennedy -22 262 36% 2 -4
1998 Bill Clinton -9 207 36% 6 4
2002 George W. Bush -3 221 33% 2 8
1934 Franklin D. Roosevelt 90 313 N/A 2 9
2022 Joe Biden -10 222 TBD 2 TBD

Looking at the table, it seems that the closest a president can get to a magic combination is: (1) small/no coattails in the presidential election, and (2) high net approval approaching the midterms. Biden already has #1, and #2 is within reach (though his best-case scenario is probably a net approval in the mid-20s). The Democrats are going to have to deal with the effects of both redistricting and gerrymandering this cycle, which will make for an even tougher climb with a majority of less than 10 seats. Still, the divisions in the GOP and past precedent both suggest that it's not impossible for them to hold the House, even if it's not the likeliest outcome. (Z)

Guess It Kinda Worked Out, After All

Ever since William Howard Taft (inadvertently) established the tradition over 100 years ago, presidents have been throwing out first pitches at Major League Baseball games. Usually, it's at the start of the season. And since Washington, DC reacquired a baseball team, usually it's at the Nationals' season debut (before that, it was at the Baltimore Orioles' first game of the season).

Donald Trump is the first president since Taft to entirely forego this tradition (Jimmy Carter nearly skipped it, too, but managed to squeeze in an appearance at Game 7 of the 1979 World Series). Trump did not explain his reasons, but the scuttlebutt is that he didn't want to be booed. That gave Joe Biden an opening on this year's Opening Day (which was yesterday). If he had accepted the Nationals' offer to throw out the first pitch, it would have been a high-profile opportunity to communicate two messages: "Things are getting back to normal!" and "I'm the anti-Trump!" That's pretty good PR value out of a short, 2½ mile trip from the White House.

Biden didn't take the opportunity, however. The White House was rather vague as to why. It's not that he can't do the job without embarrassing himself, as he did just fine at Camden Yards while he was VP (unlike Barack Obama who, as far as baseball players go, is a very fine basketball player). Maybe Biden wanted to send the message that he's just too busy for frivolity right now. Maybe he prefers to make his appearance in Philadelphia, since he's a well-known Phillies fan. Maybe he's still recovering from his recent leg injury, and doesn't want to announce that he's just not physically up to throwing a pitch. Maybe it's something else.

In the end, it worked out for Biden, since yesterday's Nationals game was canceled due to positive COVID-19 tests for some of the players. If he'd been scheduled to appear, and then had to head back to the White House without having thrown a pitch due to the cancellation, that would have sent a rather different message than "this thing is on its way to being over." We shall see when he decides to grab the situation by the balls, and show everyone his best curve. (Z)

COVID Diaries: No Light at the End of the Tunnel

While there are some signs of a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, there is also evidence that light could well be a freight train coming in our direction.

In spite of reported cases in the U.S. totaling 30 million (with a probable number of total infections closer to 100 million), the following things are still true:

  1. About 30% of the US population (another 100 million) has already had at least one vaccination, but the number of new infections is still going up. Given that about two-thirds of the US population are now at a reduced risk for COVID, this is not great news. One bright spot is that hospitalizations and deaths are still decreasing (at least, in most parts of the country).

  2. This data somewhat supports the contention from D.G.G. in Durham that after vaccination the "risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 appears to be cut to almost zero."

    That statement is probably a bit too strong, though. There were still fully vaccinated people who got very sick or died, both during the vaccine trials and after. A more prudent conclusion would be that being vaccinated significantly reduces your risk of serious illness or death. However, we do not have enough data to conclude that you have "almost zero" risk of a serious impact from COVID post-vaccination.

Here are the major factors working against us when it comes to eliminating COVID:

  1. Most of the population of the world is still at risk for catching COVID-19. This means that some percentage of travelers entering the U.S. will have COVID. The more people who catch the disease, the greater the chance of a new variant emerging, which could possibly be more infectious and/or more deadly with the vaccines providing less or no protection. All variants will eventually find their way to the U.S.

  2. We are fast approaching the point where every American who wants a vaccine will have received one. Unfortunately, the latest poll indicates that 25% of the U.S. population will refuse to be vaccinated. This will help keep COVID around for a few more months.

  3. COVID fatigue is the new pandemic. People are heading back to work, the beach, restaurants, bars and hair salons. The downward pressure on R0, from vaccinations and the protection afforded by having been infected, is being offset by less careful behavior. At some point, the number of vaccinated individuals will reach a tipping point and R0 will be reduced to less than 1.0, but not today.

  4. The variants already in the U.S. are contributing to increasing numbers of infections. Some of these variants respond less well to the vaccine and are more serious.

I am in good company with my concerns. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is doing her best to encourage people not to let their guard down.

We must get R0 less than 1.0. If you want to be part of the solution, continue social distancing protocols, even after being vaccinated. We need a drop, in new cases and deaths, of about 90% from current levels prior to being able to relax. Unfortunately, I have little evidence that enough Americans are willing to do what is necessary to stop COVID. Until then, I will dream of lying on a beach in Australia where COVID-19 was effectively eradicated six months ago. Even now, if the U.S. would really shut down for a month or so, this would all be over, but there is no way that will ever happen.

Dr. Paul Dorsey, Ph.D., works in medical software, providing software to support medical practices and hospitals nationwide.

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Apr01 Biden Unveils His Big Plan
Apr01 Biden Won't Ask for a Wealth Tax
Apr01 No Gas Tax or Mileage Tax, Either
Apr01 Democrats Are Arguing about H.R. 1
Apr01 EPA Starts the DeTrumpification of Its Scientific Panels
Apr01 The 2020 Election Is Over
Apr01 Rick Scott Heads to Iowa
Apr01 House Freedom Caucus Is Split
Apr01 Summer Zervos' Case Can Resume
Apr01 New York Legalizes Pot
Mar31 Biden Branches Out
Mar31 Biden Will Announce Infrastructure Plan Today
Mar31 Just Assume the Russians Are Reading Everything
Mar31 Matt Gaetz In Hot Water
Mar31 While You Weren't Looking...
Mar31 Another Poll, More Good News for Newsom
Mar31 DNC Gets Ready to Tinker With the Rules
Mar30 What Is Going on in Georgia?
Mar30 Get Ready to Hear a Lot about Section 304
Mar30 This Is Going to Take a While
Mar30 World Leaders Propose Pandemic Alliance
Mar30 Past as Prologue: Presidential Retirements
Mar30 Van Drew Draws Potential Nightmare Opponent
Mar29 The Voting Wars Have Now Officially Begun
Mar29 Taxes Are Going to Go Up for Corporations and the Wealthy
Mar29 Dominion Sues Fox News for $1.6 Billion
Mar29 Another Autopsy Looks at Why Democrats Lost House Seats
Mar29 Bannon Could Face State Charges
Mar29 Raffensperger Is in Trouble
Mar29 Biden's Approval on COVID-19 Hits 75%
Mar29 Biden Has Frozen the 2024 Field
Mar28 Sunday Mailbag
Mar27 Saturday Q&A
Mar26 Biden Faces the Music
Mar26 Republicans Are Losing the Filibuster Debate
Mar26 Cheney 1, Trump Jr. 0
Mar26 Old Presidents Never Die--They Just Fade Away
Mar26 Pelosi Flexes Her California Muscle
Mar26 COVID Diaries: The Return
Mar26 Bye-Bye, Bibi?
Mar25 Harris Gets a Job
Mar25 So Does Rachel Levine
Mar25 Senate Begins Advancing S. 1
Mar25 Manchin Will Support a $3-Trillion Infrastructure Bill If Democrats Raise Corporate Taxes
Mar25 Trump Wants to Build a Huge Dark-Money Machine
Mar25 Missouri Senate Race Heats Up
Mar25 Newsom Picks New AG for California
Mar25 A Look at the 2022 Gubernatorial Races
Mar25 Republican Governors Miss Trump
Mar24 Gun Control Kabuki Theater, Part 168