Search - JEvents
Search - Categories
Search - Contacts
Search - Content
Search - News Feeds
Search - Web Links
Search - SunBay
Search - JComments


Fort Myers Beach town council has just voted to open the beach to residents from 7 am till 10 am starting tomorrow morning!!! .... WELL it's a start.

They will discuss expanding the hours this Friday! BUT...They want you to wear a mask! I recall when I first went to Italy, the motorcycle riders would wear a helmet on their arm to satisfy the law of "wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle" So I will be wearing my mask on my arm! Not encouraging you to do the same but that is how I will comply... see you on the beach! Just so you will remember come next time these guys come up for reelection Mayor Murphy and Veech voted to not open the beach!

They will also be discussing business/restaurants reopening on Friday when the Governor's executive order expires on "dining in" restaurants.

And the meeting is still going on...

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier delivered some good news and some bad news Friday to business leaders planning the state’s post-pandemic recovery.

The good news, he said, is businesses may not see employee health insurance premiums increase because, with the health care system almost exclusively focused on combating COVID-19, insurers are seeing fewer claims in other areas.

The bad news is financial losses attributed to pandemics are not are covered under most “business interruption policies,” Altmaier told the 30-member Re-Open Florida Task Force Industry Working Group on Agriculture, Finance, Government, Healthcare, Management and Professional Service.


The group, led by Senate President-designate Wilton Simpson, R-Longwood, is one of four panels identifying obstructions and forwarding ideas to the task force’s 22-member executive committee.

The executive committee was expected to present Gov. Ron DeSantis with a statewide reopening plan by Friday but is not likely to do so until next week.

Executive Committee Chair Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez asked working group members to email suggestions to the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget by Sunday.

DeSantis praised the work of the four industry groups Friday after each met for more than 20 hours over the week in teleconferences.

“A lot of great ideas culled and presented,” he said. “We’re going to figure out a way to get back. That will be a bright spot – the fact that we were thoughtful and methodical in doing this.”

Among moves being made to help businesses reopen, Altmaier said, is the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) works with insurers on developing protocols for employers to test workers. Insurers have waived cost-sharing for testing, with more than half paying co-pays for treatment through at least June, he said.


Altmaier said OIR is closely monitoring litigation trends and emergent risks for the insurance sector, adding he supports granting liability exemptions for businesses that reopen and comply with all protocols and best practices.

Unfortunately, Altmaier said, there’s little state insurance regulators can do for businesses only now realizing insurance policies covering financial losses stemming from involuntary and emergency shutdowns do not include pandemics.

Insurers would suffer catastrophic financial losses if required to retroactively pay out pandemic claims, he said.

“A lot of (insurers) have rejected retroactive coverage. They did not intend for that to be covered and did not provide dollars for that.” Altmaier said. “Policymakers around the world grapple with this issue. It is an issue not only in Florida but nationwide.”

Florida Dental Association President Dr. Rudy Liddell said his constituents are eager for DeSantis to lift the state’s ban on elective procedures and to designate dentistry as essential.

He said about a quarter of Florida dentists surveyed by the association said they would not be able to reopen their practices if they remain closed through May. Nearly half would go out of business if they could not reopen before July 1, he said.

“If these dentists can’t reopen their practices, this could hurt dental access for years to come,” Liddell said.

The state association and its national affiliate has developed protocols for workers and patients that include prescreening questions, temperature checks and quick COVID-19 tests, Liddell said, adding patients will be required to call ahead to reduce waiting room times and “patient-to-patient interaction.”

“My message isn’t one of gloom and doom but optimism and assurance that Florida’s dentists are ready to get back,” Liddell said.

John Haughey

The Center Square

Medical marijuana sales surged nationwide during the first few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, but have tailed off since mid-March, according to Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics.

Not so in Florida, where the state’s 239 dispensaries, including three scheduled to open Monday to coincide with since-canceled “4/20” celebrations nationwide, are experiencing sustained brisk sales.

Florida’s medical marijuana dispensaries recorded about $500 million in 2019 sales and are projected by Arcview and BDS to top $1.2 billion in 2020 sales. They are among businesses deemed essential under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ emergency orders.


On March 24, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott A. Rivkees allowed the state’s 2,537 registered medical cannabis physicians to conduct telehealth appointments for “existing qualified patients” to receive medical marijuana IDs.

According to the state’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU), between March 6 and April 17, nearly 13,000 Floridians received new medical marijuana ID cards, boosting the state’s registry of patients to more than 336,380.

During the week of April 10-17, OMMU reported 33,313 ounces of smokable marijuana was sold statewide – the second-highest weekly volume recorded since state lawmakers allowed the sale of smokable marijuana in March 2019.

Florida’s highest weekly volume of smokable marijuana occurred during the week of March 13-20, when 36,386 ounces were sold statewide, 40 percent more than average.

Sales of smokable marijuana remain brisk despite physicians and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) suggesting patients avoid smoking marijuana, which some fear could weaken lung capacity and make patients potentially more vulnerable to COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

NORMAL recommends patients "either limit or altogether avoid their exposure to combustive smoke of any kind” and instead use edibles and tinctures.

Nationwide, BDS documented surging sales through much of March, but mostly below average sales in April, attributing the spike to patients “stocking up” with larger than usual purchases and the decline in sales to many patients being out of work.


From March 13-20, cannabis sales shot up 28 percent nationwide, said BDS, a Colorado-based marijuana market research firm.

Since then, sales have flattened, BDS said, citing job loss as the most likely reason. In states where it's legal, 32 percent of cannabis patients have incomes below $35,000 and 54 percent have full-time employment, according to BDS.

Florida's largest dispensary operator, Trulieve, opened its 46th storefront Monday in Titusville, but did so without planned “4/20” celebrations. It was one of three dispensaries green-lighted to open this week by the OMMU.

Trulieve and other dispensary operations are doing business under COVID-19 safety protocols, Trulieve chief sales officer Tim Morey told Florida TODAY.

"The customer experience during the pandemic obviously has shifted significantly," Morey said. "We encourage everybody to order online ahead of time. And when they come into the location, they'll be met by one of our Tru hosts that will have an iPad.”

Patients are asked to remain outside until they receive a text to pick up their order, he said.

ALTMED, which operates 19 Florida dispensaries, has adopted a “no guests” policy, admitting only patients and requiring them to wait outside after registering with receptionists and closing the stores on Sundays “to facilitate deep cleaning and sanitizing.”

Curaleaf, which operates 28 dispensaries across the state, has waived delivery fees and is offering an express pickup service.

“We understand that access to our dispensaries offer a real benefit to our customers’ health, so we want to ensure that those experiences are as safe as possible,” Curaleaf President Joe Bayern said.


New data on initial unemployment claims show that 4.4 million American workers filed for unemployment insurance in the week ending April 18, according to the Department of Labor. That brings the total count of initial unemployment claims up to 26.4 million in the last five weeks of Department of Labor data, an unprecedented rate of job loss for the American economy.

The U.S. real-time unemployment rate climbed to 21.4 percent on the initial claims data, based upon 50 Economy labor market estimates. The current crisis demands public policy innovation to clear out hurdles to business formation and new employment opportunities.

Initial claims have decreased week-over-week for three weeks in a row. But the total count of unemployed American workers continues to climb rapidly even as initial claims slow down.


The real-time unemployment rate is calculated using March BLS data as a baseline. However, the BLS data are adjusted to count more than 1 million March work force dropouts as unemployed, recognizing that they technically categorized as out of the workforce but they are effectively unemployed. This baseline unemployment count is combined with 5 weeks of initial unemployment claims from the Department of Labor to arrive at the total count of unemployed. In sum, 35 million Americans are estimated to be unemployed by this calculation.


The federal CARES Act was signed into law in late March and provided more generous unemployment insurance benefits for a broader set of workers. The federal portion of the unemployment benefit was increased to a more generous $600 per week, and self-employed and gig-economy workers were allowed to use the program. These changes increased the number of claims made because workers have more incentive to apply for more generous benefits, and more workers are eligible for the benefits. In addition, unemployed workers face long odds of finding a new job now during the business shutdown.

State unemployment insurance trust funds risk insolvency as a result of incredibly weak economic conditions and increased incentives to use the program.

The coronavirus pandemic is dramatically depressing economic activity, consistent with economic research that showed the 1918 influenza pandemic depressed local economies where the virus spread most. The best case scenario for American families and businesses is that federal benefits can carry them through the worst of the crisis, and then safe strategies can be executed to reopen the economy. Americans can then resume their past economic activities and work on new jobs and businesses.

Re-opening strategies should be coupled with public policy packages that make it easy to start businesses and find new jobs. State and local red tape that has grown up around the modern economy needs to be cleaved back, and the tax code needs to be configured to incentivize new investment. Private sector disruption should be offset by public policy innovation so that the private economy can eventually come back stronger than ever.

 Michael Lucci 

President and publisher of

The Center Square






The real obstacle in rebuilding Florida's post-pandemic tourism economy will be convincing visitors that attractions and businesses are safe, hospitality and restaurant industry leaders said Tuesday.

Among ways to do that, Visit Florida President and CEO Dana Young said, is a four-phase rebound strategy that will tout industry standards being developed in restaurants and hotels tailored to specific groups.

“We are in phase one now. Phase two is when the stay-at-home order is lifted,” Young said during a teleconference of the Re-Open Florida Task Force’s 35-member Working Group on Tourism, Construction, Real Estate, Recreation, Retail and Transportation.

When Gov. Ron DeSantis’ safer-at-home order is lifted, Young said, tourists are not going to immediately flock to the state because the COVID-19 crisis “has changed consumer behavior and psychology.”

They’ll need to be induced, she said, and need to see businesses are open and attractions are safe. To do that, she said, the state should enlist Floridians to show the Sunshine State is open for business.

“People who live in the state will be incredibly important. The entire tourism industry needs to encourage Floridians to take an in-state vacation,” Young said, calling on the group to appeal to “state patriotism that Floridians already have in abundance.”

Phase three will target national travelers, and phase four will be “expanding these efforts globally,” she said.

There are indications the state’s tourism and hospitality industries may recover sooner than later, Young said, citing an 11-fold recent increase in visitors to Visit Florida’s website, which now includes a dashboard charting the shutdown’s impact on the state’s largest industry.

The questions industry leaders must answer is how to develop a “data-driven approach” and protocols “for employees in the public space” in businesses now shuttered as nonessential.

Fontainebleau Miami Beach President and COO Philip Goldfarb said among the first items that could be addressed is encouraging business travel as a precursor to leisure travel.

“Consumer confidence is going be at the root,” Goldfarb said, asking officials “to encourage the media to donate more time to public service messaging.”

Tim Petrillo, co-founder and CEO of The Restaurant People, which operates 45 restaurants nationwide and 25 in Florida, said business owners are concerned about supply chains.

“There will be significant strain on supply chains as everybody tries to get open” at the same time, he said.

Employers need “a clear path” in how they can operate safely.

“What does outdoor dining look like? How do we enforce social distancing on our guests?” Petrillo asked.

“These guidelines have to be easy to follow,” said Cody Khan, owner of Holiday Inn Resort in Panama City Beach. “We don’t have PHDs cleaning rooms and washing dishes.”

The framework may already be in place, such as measures being implemented by Restaurant Brands International, which operates 18,000 Burger King restaurants, 4,500 Popeyes restaurants and 4,000 Tim Horton’s restaurants globally, CEO Jose Cil said.

The company developed protocols with the CDC to screen employees before shifts with a short questionnaire and a temperature check that is logged daily. The company also has adopted a paid sick leave policy.

“We made it a policy early on, anybody who comes down with this, go home to get better. We will pay sick leave for 14 days,” he said.

Hoteliers said protocols developed in Singapore and Las Vegas, including electrostatic deep cleaning and other standardized best practices should be incorporated into the state’s marketing plan.

The hospitality industry must now consider, “What does the guest room of tomorrow look like?” Boca Resort and Club President and Managing Director John Tolbert said.

“If we are going to reopen, we have to have amenities,” Goldfarb said, adding he is “hearing through the grapevine” that south Florida beaches may not open for months. “I think that is a big mistake.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis will call on lawmakers in 2021 to divest state investments in Chinese-owned companies and “hold China accountable” for withholding information about the COVID-19 outbreak until it was spreading across the globe.

DeSantis told reporters he will push Florida to “put our flag into the ground” and incentivize companies now operating in China, especially pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturers, to come to the Sunshine State.

“If you have life-saving equipment that is being manufactured, do not manufacture it in China anymore. We need to bring this stuff back to the United States, and Florida would be a great place to do it,” he said. “If you want a good, business friendly environment, come talk to me. We can work something out.”

DeSantis said Florida is likely to file its own lawsuit against the Chinese Communist Party seeking compensation for the economic damage caused by the pandemic shutdown or sign onto one filed this week by Missouri and Mississippi.

“I want to see if Florida can be involved in that,” he said.

DeSantis’ comments came as President Donald Trump and Congress are considering whether, and how, the U.S, can penalize China for failing to alert the world to the Wuhan COVID-19 outbreak.

In a letter sent Wednesday to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis asked for “technical assistance” from the U.S. State Department in providing a list of Chinese-based or Chinese-bought companies and their subsidiaries that operate in Florida.

Patronis said the state’s Department of Financial Services' Division of Unclaimed Property has $2 billion in unclaimed assets, some of which could belong to Chinese companies or the Chinese Communist Party.

“Clearly, if another nation attacked our country, and inflicted the kind of economic harm that is being brought to the American economy, we would demand restitution,” Patronis wrote. “I am of the opinion that China has a debt to pay to our country, and the state of Florida, for their negligence and deceptive practices.”

The Department of Financial Services could turn names over to the Board of Administration, which manages state investments, including those made on behalf of the Florida Retirement System (FRS), the nation’s fourth-largest public pension fund.

According to the state’s Department of Management Services (DMS), as of June 2019, FRS provided retirement income benefits to 647,942 active members, 4.425 million retirees and 32,670 others.

In October, the Trump administration blacklisted Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., one of the world’s largest video surveillance systems manufacturers, for providing the technology the Chinese Communist Party has used to repress western China’s Muslim population.

FRS was among American public pension programs that had invested in the company, owning 1.8 million shares in June 2019.

Divesting in Chinese companies is not, necessarily, the same as disentangling economically with China.

Enterprise Florida has operated offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai since 2014. The agency’s 2018 International Business Highlights report ranks China as Florida’s No. 1 import market and No. 3 merchandise trading partner. China is the Port of Miami’s top customer.

More than 200,000 Chinese tourists visit Florida annually, according to Enterprise Florida.

DeSantis touted his long opposition to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s trade practices, noting DC Think, a Beijing-based think tank administered by Tsinghua University, in a June 2019 U.S. Governors Report, warned Florida’s governor was not “friendly” to China’s interests.

“Where do you think I was” ranked he asked before answering his own question: “Hard-line against China.”

John Haughey

The Center Square

“No Shirt, No Shoes, No Mask, No Service.”

Get used to it. You may see it on storefronts and office doors soon.

The phrase was among the ideas presented during Thursday’s teleconference of the 23-member Re-Open Florida Task Force Industry Working Group on Administrative, Education, Information & Technology, Manufacturing, Utilities and Wholesale.

The group, led by state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, discussed reopening K-12 schools in August on Wednesday, with Thursday’s session mostly focused on manufacturing and information technology businesses.

Corcoran’s group is one of four subpanels set to forward ideas to the Re-Open Florida Task Force’s 22-member executive committee, which must present Gov. Ron DeSantis with a statewide reopening plan Friday.

Enterprise Florida Senior Vice President Manny Mencia said many manufacturers could restart production and meet safety protocols quickly if supply lines were restored.

“A large majority of (Florida manufacturers) have seen a sudden and steep decline in their sales and revenues,” Mencia said. “This is happening while they’ve also been experiencing a significant disruption in supply chains.”

Venice-based Tervis, which manufactures plastic drink tumblers, has not escaped the economic fallout from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but president Rogan Donnelly outlined how it plans to safely resume full operations.

Tervis plans to check employees’ temperatures before entering its plant, provide masks, disinfect regularly and impose social distancing in its workspaces, he said.

“We are investigating the use of temperature guns or thermal cameras,” Donnelly said.

The company is concerned about the reliable availability of thermometers, he said, noting they are “hard to find and are on back order.”

Tervis wants its employees properly trained, Donnelly said.

“Taking an employee’s temperature puts HR at higher risk, potentially exposing themselves to the virus,” he said. “Our HR team is not certified on how to actively take a temperature. So, we need to find someone who can train or certify our team, and to identify clear policies about which temperatures are too high, and what happens if a person has that temperature.”

Florida Technology Council Chief Executive Officer James Taylor offered suggested best practices for the IT industry that include daily self-screening for employees and clients; in-house social distancing; training on how to use personal protective equipment; a 30-day supply of personal protective equipment, sanitizer, soap, and other such supplies; disinfection and cleaning protocols; and signage.

His suggested sign: “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Mask, No Service.”

Taylor said the key to getting “the onus off the state and put it back on the businesses” to determine when they are ready to reopen is clear guidance and protocols.

“By meeting these different protocols, it allows them to say, ‘Yes we can do that. We’re in a position to open right now,’ ” he said.

Broward College President Greg Haile said economic crisis typically results in college and technical school enrollment boosts, but, with the COVID-19 pandemic, all bets are off.

“This is unlike anything we have ever seen,” Haile said.

Miami-Dade County Early Learning Coalition President Evelio Torres said with K-12 schools closed at least until August, any plan to reopen the economy must address child care and provide operators with resources to ensure they are safe.

“Full social distancing in a child care setting is practically impossible,” Torres said. “So the ones that are open may not have enough personal protection equipment due to the shortages. A lot of them are making do with what they have. But this is a concern to the staff, a concern to the parents, as well to owners and directors.”

John Haughey

The Center Square

Saturday, 25 April 2020 10:30

Whitmer to Michigan: Stay Home and Shut Up

When historians look back at America's handling of the coronavirus outbreak, they likely will cite Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as the best example of how not to contain a pandemic in your state.

The Democratic governor has turned her state into the heart of COVID-19 resistance. On Wednesday, protesters shut down the roads in Lansing, the state's capital, in a protest dubbed "Operation Gridlock."

Whitmer responded to the outrage of her constituents thusly: "I know that people are angry and that's OK, and if you want to take it out and send it my way, if it makes you feel better, that's fine. I support your right to free speech, and I respect your opinions. I just urge you, don't put yourself at risk and don't put others at risk either. I was really disappointed to see people congregating, not wearing masks. I saw someone handing out candy to little kids bare-handed."

She did everything but brand her critics "barbarians at the gate" -- unwashed hordes who stand against the good people who stay home and don't make waves -- when her provocative attitude and policies truly were a problem.

Consider the name of her stay-at-home orders: "Temporary requirement to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life."

Her order should have prohibited activities that spread the virus -- that's what public safety requires. Instead, Whitmer took her moment of power to tell her own constituents that they should not do anything that possibly could make their confinement more pleasant or productive.

An example: "Private gatherings of any number of people occurring among persons not part of a single household are prohibited." So if you're a healthy single person, you can't sit down with a neighbor. It doesn't matter if you practice social distancing. You are not supposed to exercise your judgment. Your purpose is to obey.

Large retailers can't sell paint or plants. Gardening centers in large stores are illegal.

If residents have a second home, they are not allowed to go to it.

Wolverines can kayak but not use a motorboat. Somehow that is supposed to save lives.

It's one thing to be told you have to social distance, work at home or not work to contain the spread of COVID-19. It's another thing to be told, in effect, you can't plant tomatoes or people will die.

Whitmer has a talking point that explains her invasive rules.

Former NFL player and Michigan resident Mark Campbell, who recently visited the White House, told President Donald Trump that he believed he contracted the coronavirus when he touched a gas pump during a ski trip. Campbell has since recovered.

Whitmer frequently shares Campbell's story. She then notes that COVID-19 can live on stainless steel for 72 hours. "Think about how many people touch a gas pump handle in the span of three days and that's why we don't want anyone on the road who doesn't have to be there," she recently told reporters.

One word: Gloves.

Another: Sanitizer.

Americans now know which measures should be taken when touching surfaces that many others have touched -- even if Whitmer assumes voters, including savvy first responders, have no common sense.

Whitmer's name pops up among possible running mates for former Vice President Joe Biden. Her criticism of Trump's handling of the outbreak raised her profile. Ditto Trump's warning to Vice President Mike Pence during a coronavirus task force briefing not to call "that woman from Michigan." (Pence nonetheless has called her.)

It gave Whitmer's brand a boost when she appeared on "The Daily Show" wearing a T-shirt that said, "That woman from Michigan," and insisted she has no energy for politics.

Maybe her next T-shirt could say: "Nanny state scold."

Even Trump, albeit with the help of Drs. Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci, has been able to unite the country behind social-distancing guidelines. By going too far, Whitmer has discredited that very effort.

Debra J. Saunders

President Donald Trump unleashed his "April surprise" on Monday night, sending shock waves from the Beltway Swamp to Silicon Valley with a long-overdue announcement: "In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens," he declared, "I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!"

The usual suspects inveighed against the still-unseen proposal early Tuesday morning. My inbox was flooded with twitching and moaning from Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Foundation-funded outfit, which called a freeze the "wrong approach" and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which ranted (as usual) about "white nationalists" and "racism." The infuriated Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the "irrational and insidious" plan (that no one had yet seen) and called for "people of all decency" to "denounce this xenophobic agenda." Lawsuits are already being prepared against an executive order that hasn't been written or signed.

For nonhysterical observers of the Trump administration, however, the outcome was perfectly obvious: initial excitement followed by abject letdown as actual details have trickled out over the last 48 hours.

Do not forget: 26 million American workers across the wage scale are out of work as a result of pandemic-induced lockdowns and layoffs. Dire straits demand extreme measures. The well-being of our native workforce and the millions of families dependent upon them must be Washington's top priority, not big business, big agriculture, Silicon Valley, academia or foreign countries clamoring to send their students and workers here to replace ours.

Despite White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany crediting Trump on Tuesday morning for understanding that "(d)ecades of record immigration have produced lower wages and higher unemployment for our citizens," at his Tuesday evening press conference, Trump revealed that the prematurely heralded and scorned immigration suspension will last a mere 60 days and will exempt temporary foreign visa holders.

Head. Bang. Desk.

This is a cynical betrayal of the burgeoning "America First" movement. It's all moratorium hat and no cattle:

--All new green card applications and routine visa processing were already suspended on March 20.

--Refugee resettlement was already suspended the same week and is scheduled to be frozen until at least May 15 (although more than 1,000 Afghan refugees were flown in over the past month while the rest of us have been ordered shut in our own homes).

--Foreign travelers from China and Europe, plus Canada and Mexico, were already barred from entering (though thousands of H-2A and H-2B agricultural and seasonal workers got in and some 35,000 more expect a green light despite virus outbreaks at Chinese-owned meat plants packed with foreign laborers).

--The annual H-1B lottery for Chinese and Indian tech workers was completed last month and a total of 475,000 H-1Bs are safe while untold thousands of American STEM students, graduates and workers lost their livelihoods.

--Despite massive layoffs of H-1B workers in tech, there is no move to send them home. Instead, immigration lawyers are outrageously advising H-1B and other temporary visa holders (including those in the L-1, B-1 and R categories) that they are eligible for stimulus checks.

--More than a million F-1 foreign student visa holders remain in the country, including nearly 400,000 from China, as do hundreds of thousands of foreign students who secured Optional Practical Training work permits in STEM fields, displacing American workers.

--More than 4,000 J-1 foreign health worker visas were freed up earlier this month while American medical professionals lost their jobs. The American Medical Association, which has artificially suppressed the supply of doctors for decades to inflate wages, is whining about shortages and pressuring to relax J-1 rules and time limits even further.

The clamor for an immigration moratorium has been steadily rising, from Pat Buchanan's advocacy, dating back to his first presidential campaign in 1992, to immigration hawk Jeff Sessions' call for an employment-based visa freeze last week. With a whopping 79% of Americans now in favor of a full halt to immigration (according to a recent USA Today/Ipsos poll), this was Trump's golden opportunity to seize momentum. Instead, we got a mess of squander and blunder.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is more interested in appeasing India than protecting American workers. White House adviser Jared Kushner and his top aide Christopher Liddell (former Microsoft executive) have prioritized appeasing Apple and Amazon. I've learned from insiders that there are at least 15 categorical exemptions on the table and more in the works.

A one-time, 60-day Swiss Cheese-holed farce of an immigration ban will do far more harm than good for Donald Trump. Think about it this way: Various illegal immigration ethnic blocs have been granted "Temporary Protected Status" continuously since 2001. Why do hordes of foreigners get a permanent reprieve while American citizens will be asked to settle for a measly comma before getting drowned again in mass migration? The executive order should cover all foreign influxes and should be renewed for at least as long as the longest TPS extensions: 19 years.

We need Permanent Protected Status for American citizens. Full stop.

michelle malkin sm

Michelle Malkin's

America's domestic energy producers are under siege. The price of oil fell to below $5 a barrel on Monday, down from roughly $50 a barrel a year ago. This 90% drop in price is sending nearly the entire oil and gas industry into bankruptcy.

What is going on here?

Saudi Arabia and Russia have flooded the international market with cheap oil at the very time of a massive drop in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. This "perfect storm" for America's drillers sent prices into this unprecedented tailspin.

Low prices are good news for American motorists and manufacturers, for sure. Get ready for $1 a gallon gas prices in some places. But the market saturation in cheap oil is a scheme by the Saudis to regain the power they lost when innovative U.S. drillers cracked the code to unleash the most prolific and unexpected oil and gas boom in the history of North America.

Because of their grit and determination, and for leading us out of the 2008 to 2009 recession, I love this industry. I wrote a book about the frackers in 2015, and, for full disclosure, I get some limited funding from energy firms. Under President Donald Trump's policies, which were highly supportive of American energy independence, the U.S. became a net exporter of energy, and OPEC's energy dominance was over.

But now, Russia and Saudi Arabia want their price war to shut down American energy production while the world isn't looking. They are succeeding.

Many small- and medium-sized producers, from Texas to North Dakota and Pennsylvania, have been shutting down and are even fighting off bankruptcy. These companies are amazingly resilient and are experts at slashing production costs for the sake of survival. Almost no one (other than radical environmentalists) favors decapitating an industry that has made America an energy powerhouse, created as many as 5 million new jobs, and almost single-handedly pulled our nation out of the 2008 to 2009 recession.

Oil remains one of the necessary elements in society's ability to prosper and function. For example, the blue-collar jobs in oil production, transportation, refining, and petrochemical manufacturing were all deemed "essential workforce" (even in California!) during this period of national emergency. It would be dangerous and shortsighted to hand over energy production to foreign regimes that are less than friendly to the U.S. and have proven themselves to be less than dependable suppliers.

One smart retaliatory move would be to slash the taxes paid by our onshore drillers and royalties on drillers in the Gulf of Mexico and on federal lands. These royalties paid to Uncle Sam can range from a "tax" of between 12% and 18.5%. Ending the royalties through the end of the year would lift the after-tax price paid to drillers by as much as $5 a barrel. This would apply to about 4 million barrels of oil per day on federal properties.

The feds now collect about $6 billion a year in royalties. Canceling those payments would be a small price to pay to save an industry that employs several million workers. Under federal law, the president has the executive authority to take this action.

America has become the world's largest oil and gas producer -- and the Russians and the Saudis want to end that supremacy. Trump can and should make sure they don't succeed by slashing the taxes and royalties this critical industry pays until the coronavirus crisis is over.

Stephen Moore


digital version