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AOC: ‘To get the virus under control, we need to pay people to stay home’

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted on Thursday that the way to get a handle on the increasing number of coronavirus cases across the United States is to pay people to stay at home.

“To get the virus under control, we need to pay people to stay home,” the self-described democratic socialist wrote.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), another member of “The Squad,” echoed that same message shortly after Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet, saying, “We need to send every American a check until this crisis is over.”

These statements come as months-long negotiations for a second coronavirus relief package to soften the impact of the pandemic on the nation’s economy have been stalled, as tens of millions of Americans remain unemployed. The first package, known as the CARES Act, was passed back in late March and sent millions of adult Americans a one-time check of $1,200. The second package has been stalled predominantly because of disagreements between Democrats and Republicans over the plan’s price tag. However, a deal does not seem likely to properly materialize until the beginning of the new year.

In recent months, coronavirus cases have been surging across the country, which has pushed governors and local officials to bring back stricter guidelines and restrictions for everyday life to combat the recent spike in cases. Cases are also surging across the world, especially in Europe, where the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and others have significantly tightened their own COVID-19 restrictions.

In response to Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) remarked, “You can’t make this stuff up. #StandUpForAmerica”.

Ocasio-Cortez, however, fired back at Roy and questioned why he voted for the CARES Act back in March and why he supposedly doesn’t support stimulus now, likely referencing stimulus bills passed by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives that were then rejected by the GOP-controlled Senate.

In looking through the responses to and the retweets of Ocasio-Cortez’s original tweet, which has received over 260,000 likes at the time of publication, there was a surprising lack of commentary of both big-name conservative and progressive lawmakers and pundits, aside from Omar and Roy. Tweets from the congresswoman have regularly gone viral on the platform.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Economy

TX farmers fight to block USDA from using race in distributing farm aid

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“When natural disasters strike, they don’t discriminate based on race and sex. Neither should the Department of Agriculture.” That’s the message from a group of farmers written in a court filing made public Monday.

Just The News reports on a group of white farmers in Texas who are asking a federal judge to block the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using race, gender or other “socially disadvantaged” traits to determine who gets disaster and pandemic farm aid and how much, arguing the agency’s current administration of eight emergency funding programs is unconstitutionally discriminatory.

According to Just the News, the USDA’s program appears to be rooted in an executive order that President Joe Biden signed. The lawsuit names the USDA and Biden Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The farmers bringing the action include Rusty Strickland, Alan and Amy West and Bryan Baker, all of Texas.

The farmers, represented by the nonprofit legal firm called the Southeastern Legal Foundation, asked a judge to issue an emergency injunction from the U.S. District Court in Amarillo, Texas, to stop any additional awards from being made on the basis of race and gender or other liberal standards.

“Enjoining USDA from using race, sex, or progressive factoring when administering the programs is warranted because Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims that: (1) the programs, as currently administered, are unconstitutional; (2) USDA lacks statutory authority to run the programs in their current form; and (3) USDA failed to adequately explain changes in calculating payments when implementing progressive factoring,” the motion stated.

The farmers said the Biden administration has taken roughly $25 billion in disaster and pandemic aid approved by Congress for farmers in eight programs and devised a system to make awards based on race, gender or other “socially disadvantaged” traits. Such decision-making violates the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment and the Administrative Procedures Act.

“The Constitution promises equal treatment to all Americans regardless of their race or sex,” the court filing also reads. “It also promises the separation of powers. USDA broke both promises through the disaster and pandemic relief programs challenged here.”

The farmers said they can prove that “USDA gives more money to some farmers based on” race, gender or other factors never approved by Congress.

“USDA does this by first defining farmers who are black/African-American, American Indian, Alaskan native, Hispanic, Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, or a woman as ‘socially disadvantaged,’” the court filing said. “Then, it provides farmers who qualify as socially disadvantaged more money for the same loss than those it deems non-underserved, along with other preferential treatment”

Just the News explains the request for an injunction relies in part of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision last year banning racial preferences in college admissions. It even quoted from the high court’s declaration that “eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.”.

“Disasters don’t discriminate and neither should USDA. In fact, the Constitution prohibits it,” the lawyers said in a statement. “That is why our brave clients – a group of Texas farmers that includes three white men who received significantly less money in disaster relief funds from USDA than if they had been of a different race or sex – filed this case and are asking the court to stop USDA’s blatant discrimination.”

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