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Where Things Stand: Austerity For America’s Cities?

This is you TPM afternoon briefing.
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 17: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks during a news conference after the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon at the Hart Senate Office Building November 17,... WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 17: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks during a news conference after the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon at the Hart Senate Office Building November 17, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Senate GOP members held their weekly luncheon to discuss the Republican agenda. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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November 18, 2020 1:01 p.m.

In a narrow sense, this is a very New York City-centric issue. But if it comes to fruition, life as we know it in this city will not only collapse further into the unlivable realm than it already has in the wake of COVID-19, but we might see another outbreak spike in the city.

According to the New York Daily News, the MTA, which oversees all public transit operations in the city of New York, is mulling new budget cuts for the coming months as the train and bus system attempts to stay afloat amid the pandemic that’s killed more than three times the death toll of the September 11 World Trade Center terrorist attacks. The MTA says it might need to reduce weekday train service by 40 percent and lay off 9,000-plus MTA employees in order to account for the losses its faced since quarantine began in the city in March.

Cuts to weekday service offerings of this magnitude would make social distancing virtually impossible on the already crowded train cars. Essential workers would, once again, be faced with risking their lives to go to work.

One great way the MTA could stave off these massive cuts is for Congress to pass another pandemic relief package. But the likelihood of both legislating bodies and the White House coming to an agreement in time for these cuts to not be put in place is, as you know, extremely low — especially if Democrats lose both runoff Senate elections in Georgia.

We’ve known for some time that Senate Republicans plan to do all they can to keep Biden from having a successful presidency, likely flinging themselves back to their convenient austerity roots — temporarily abandoned for parts of Trump’s presidency — in order to stonewall economic recovery. During the pandemic, though, the results could be crippling for already cash-strapped cities across the U.S. The MTA’s woes are just one example. And only the most plugged in constituents will know that Mitch McConnell’s blockade on funding is to blame.

Here’s more on other stories we’re following today:

What The Investigations Team Is Watching

Tierney Sneed is covering news that the Trump campaign has requested a partial recount in Wisconsin — targeting two counties with large Black populations.

Josh Kovensky has some key takeaways from our big story yesterday on the Falwell’s and their business associate, Giancarlo Granda.

What The Breaking News Team Is Watching

We’ve put together a round up of all of the Washington, D.C. lawmakers who have contracted COVID-19 in the past week, which will be updated as we learn more. You can find that here.

While President Trump tweets up a storm about various unsubstantiated rigged election claims, his presence on the national stage has remained nearly entirely virtual for weeks. The President reportedly canceled plans to visit Mar-a-Lago for Thanksgiving next week and intends to stay bunkered up at the White House instead. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News this morning that the country can expect to hear from the mercurial sore loser when the time is “right.” We’ll keep an eye on this.

Meanwhile, even some of Trump’s staunchest allies on Fox News are encouraging Trump to accept defeat. On Wednesday morning, “Fox and Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade urged President Trump to give up the crusade and work with the Biden transition team to ensure a peaceful transfer of power. The Fox News host said it would be in the best interest of the country for Trump to figure out how to cooperate.

If You Read Anything On COVID-19 Today, Read This

Task Force Doctors Warn Of 2,000 COVID Deaths Daily By Christmas.

Coming Up

President Trump has nothing on his public schedule today.

Kamala Harris will meet with transition advisers today and President-elect Joe Biden will attend a virtual roundtable with health care workers in Delaware.

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

Sex, Lies, And Regret: Giancarlo Granda Reels From Eight Years With The Falwells — Josh Kovensky

What We Are Reading

Regarding COVID, Wake Up And Smell The Coffee — Eli Reshef

Biden Wants To Help Pay Some Student Loans, But There’s Pressure To Go Further — Anya Kamenetz

Trevor Noah Is Still Trying to Explain America to Itself. It’s Getting Harder. — Wesley Lowry

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