The Thinker: Rich Galen


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3.28 Million

Rich Galen

Thursday March 26, 2020

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  • 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance for the week ending March 21.

  • Donald Trump is correct. The U.S. economy has stopped cold, like a pickup run out of gas on a farm-to-market road in rural Texas.

  • Goin' nowhere.

  • 3.28 million people out of work is not good news. What is good news is that there are about 155 million people who are still on payrolls. That will continue to shrink as this national shut-down continues, but the Congress is trying to ameliorate the growth in unemployment.

  • A few hours before the weekly unemployment claim numbers were released, the U.S. Senate voted 96-0 to advance the two trillion dollar stimulus bill.

  • $2,000,000,000,000. That's a touch over $6,000 for every one of the 331 million of us who live in the United States and its territories.

  • The unemployment numbers were pretty much baked into the Market so it was that 96-0 vote early on Sunday morning that gave traders and investors some confidence. By noon today, this morning, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up over 1,100 points, the S&P was up about 12 points.

  • Two trillion dollars will do that.

  • One of the problems in writing a column like this twice a week is not trying to think of something to write about, that's the easy part. The problem is trying to find sources I feel comfortable quoting to illustrate whatever it is I'm writing about.

  • The stimulus bill is a perfect poster child. It is officially S. 3548 and is titled: "The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act" or CARES Act.


    During my occasional bouts of employment as a staffer in the House or Senate, I would sometimes prowl the back hallways and basement passages looking for the office of the people whose job it is to name bills that create memorable acronyms. CARES is a perfect example.

    I know it is somewhere in the Capitol, but I never found it.


  • I spent all weekend trying to find a summary that didn't attack one side or the other over something that was in the bill or wasn't in the bill.

  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi spent time during her presser this morning complaining about Republicans in the Senate while congratulating the Democratic Committee Chairs in the House.

  • We get enough of that out of the White House.

  • Here's a tip, Madam Speaker: Take the two trillion and run.

  • In the end, a friend of mine sent a 2+ page summary put together by the analysts at his firm, APCO Worldswide which answered most of my questions.

  • A problem Speaker Pelosi is facing is getting Unanimous Consent to pass the CARES Act in the House. Any Member can demand a roll call vote. The person in the chair will ask those who agree to stand and if "a sufficient number" do, then Members pull out their ATM-like cards and vote electronically.

  • Electronically, but from the Floor.

  • Any group of 435 people create a bell curve: A few geniuses and heroes on the left-hand side, a bulge of work-a-day people who just want to do a good job for their country and constituents, then a small group of crooks, charlatans, and grandstanders who never, ever play nicely with others.

  • Pelosi does not want to make the entire House membership get on planes or into their cars to come back and cast one 15-minute vote, so there is great pressure being put on those on the right-hand edge of the graph to behave.

  • All parties agree that the CARES bill is not the final answer - more of a down payment.

  • I have been as big a deficit hawk as anyone with a laptop in Washington, DC, but I'm putting the hood over the hawk's eyes for this one.

  • Those 3.28 million people who filed for unemployment insurance last week are not sitting around pondering economic theory.

  • Their checking accounts are close empty. Their credit cards are close to maxed out. They have a family to feed, but no job to generate the cash necessary to feed them.

  • Next week's numbers are not going to be much better.

  • If you're not one of them, thank God. If you are, we'll all pray that you get through this.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A chart showing the astonishing spike in unemployment claims, a link to the page of the CARES Act; and a link to that APCO Worldwide analysis.

    The Mullfoto is of my hand, showing the effects of washing my hands 23 times per day.

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