The New Eviction Moratorium

Last month the CDC enacted an eviction moratorium on the grounds that removing a mass amount of people from their homes would worsen the pandemic. While this may seem like it should be a relief to renters the pandemic has put at risk of eviction, by some estimates up to 40 million people, it is, as Emily Benfer, visiting professor of law at Wake Forest University says, a “temporary and incomplete measure.”

The eviction moratorium does not forgive rent due or provide rental assistance and it continues to allow landlords to tack on late fees and other penalties for not paying rent. While better than nothing, it does little more than kick the ball down the road.  When it expires in December, America will still have to reckon with the greatest housing crisis in our nation’s history.

It is also not a blanket measure; renters seeking protection from eviction need to fill out an application (click here) and deliver it to their landlord. They are also required to prove that they are doing their best to make payments.

Tenants have to declare under threat of perjury that:

  • They cannot pay their full rent due to a “substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, lay-offs, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses.”
  • They  have used best efforts to obtain all available government  rent assistance.
  • They expect to earn no more than $99,000 this year or $198,000 if they file a joint income tax return.
  • They are “using best efforts” to make partial rent payments.
  • They would likely become homeless, move into a shelter or “into a new residence shared by other people who live in close quarters” if they were evicted.

And the eviction moratorium isn’t stopping evictions completely. In Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, 727 eviction actions were filed through Wednesday. Legal experts that many tenants don’t even know there is an eviction moratorium.

In addition to providing no rental assistance to tenants, it offers no aid to landlords who still have to pay mortgages. There are currently two large lawsuits including suits from The National Apartment Association and a group of landlords along with the New Civil Liberties Alliance against the CDC and Trump administration that seek to roll back the current moratorium.

These are extraordinary and desperate times and they deserve appropriately expansive legislation to address the scope of the issues. This moratorium is entirely inadequate. Congress needs to pass a comprehensive stimulus package that directly addresses these issues and provides rental assistance before the economy is dragged down any further.

Yours in Strength,

The Take Back Control Team

TBC Weekly Newsletter September 21, 2020

CDC Walks Back Updated Testing Guidelines 

The CDC has walked back controversial testing guidelines that were revealed to not have been written by the agency. 


The White House Blocked Initiative to Provide Americans With Masks 

The White House blocked the USPS from distributing 5 reusable face masks to every US household in April. The White House blocked the plan due to concern that it would cause a panic.


Caputo Takes A Leave of Absence

Michael Caputo has taken a medical leave of absence from his post as top HHS spokesperson after accusing CDC scientists of sedition and going on a rant on Facebook. Caputo garnered widespread attention due to his significant ties to the Kremlin and his pressure campaign against the CDC.


Bar Tells Prosecutors to Prosecute Protesters with Sedition

Attorney General William Bar told federal prosecutors to charge certain protestors aggressively, including going so far as to prosecute them for plotting to overthrow the US government.


Mass Hysterectomies At ICE Detention Center

A whistleblower has brought national attention to an ICE detention center in Georgia where immigrant women received questionable hysterectomies. 


North Carolina Voters Receive Ballot Request Forms with Trump’s Face

North Carolina voters received mail-in ballots request forms with Trump’s face and the words “ARE YOU GOING TO LET THE DEMOCRATS SILENCE YOU?”



With fall comes the start of a new semester for college students; football games, tailgates, lecture halls, and student housing. Any other year these places and events are met with anticipation, but this year they bring the possibility of infection.


Just weeks into the new semester colleges have produced 88K cases of Coronavirus. As cases skyrocket on college campuses, the surrounding towns and cities also feel the impact. Of the 25 emerging Coronavirus hotspots across the United States, 19 of them are occupied heavily by college students. 


The increase in cases on college campuses has caused many universities to shut down in person instruction all together, transitioning to a remote learning model. When a college is shut down, those students are forced to go home, often to a house that has older people and who are more at risk for contracting the virus and getting seriously ill from it. Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci both insist that staying on campus and quarantining there is a better option than sending students home. Dr. Birx stated “It’s really important that these students are continuously tested, isolated and cared for and don’t return to their multi-generational households where they could dramatically increase spread,” 


But what happens when universities aren’t equipped to deal with quarantining and caring for hundreds, if not thousands of students? This exact situation is playing out all across the country from NYU to U Michigan. Students at NYU went viral on TikTok for exposing their NYU provided quarantine meals. A lot of students who requested vegetarian meals were receiving meals with meat and some students went 24 hours without receiving any food at all. Sam Burnstein turned toTikTok to explain his quarantine situation at the University of Michigan after testing positive for COVID-19 “We were given almost no supplies; no food, no masks, no gloves, no microwave, no bed sheets, no soap, no cleaning supplies–nothing”.


President Trump has encouraged schools to open across the country, including higher education. He even publicly denounced Harvard’s plan for remote learning saying “I think it’s ridiculous, I think it’s an easy way out and I think they ought to be ashamed of themselves.” With no set of guidelines put out by the Federal government on how to reopen safely, many universities have been unable to deal with consequences of in person classes during the pandemic.


Colleges have shown that they are not equipped to deal with this crisis. Is it responsible to hold in person classes with the potential of on and off campus events becoming super spreader events?


Yours in Strength,

The Take Back Control Team

TBC Weekly Newsletter September 14th, 2020

Devos Reroutes Funds to Private Schools

Amidst a global pandemic when public schools need the funding most, DeVos tried to reroute funds to private schools, but was ultimately shut down.


Permanent Job Loss Signals Slow Recovery

Despite declining unemployment rates, permanent job losses signal a slow economic recovery to come.


Congress Still In Stalemate

With congress still in a stalemate over a second stimulus, consumer confidence decreases amongst the lowest earners, which may have possible implications for the economy as a whole.


Colleges Send Home Students, Facilitating Spread of COVID-19

As colleges across the country close students are being sent back home, further facilitating the spread. 


Astrazeneca Resumes COVID-19 Vaccine Trial 

A vaccine trial resumes after a participant had a rare but serious spinal inflammatory disorder.


The Truth About The Unemployment Expansion

As record numbers of people filed for unemployment and the country began to slowly shut down, congress passed the CARES Act, a bipartisan bill to provide relief to the American people. Included in the bill was a $600 a week unemployment expansion that also allowed workers typically not eligible to collect unemployment to receive benefits.

Since the passing of the bill the unemployment expansion has become a point of contention between Democrats and Republicans, as well as frontline workers envious of their unemployed counterparts. Some people, including prominent politicians, claim that the additional $600 a week is too generous and it disincentives employees from going back to work. This claim has been proven to be false. A study from a group of Yale University economists showed that workers receiving the extended benefits have been returning to the workforce at the same rate as workers not receiving the additional $600 a week.

The fact of the matter is that people aren’t staying home because they’re lazy or don’t want to work, they’re staying home because they can’t find a job.  The employment opportunities aren’t even close to being back at pre-pandemic levels and much of the employment available is high risk. While the unemployment rate has dropped to 8.4% from its peak of 14.7% during April, we’ve still only recovered less than half of the jobs lost in March and April. Furthermore, the August jobs report shows that the number of permanent job losses increased by 534,000 in August, totaling 3.4 million since the start of the pandemic. The shift from temporary lay-offs to permanent job losses are leaving millions of Americans unemployed and likely unable to collect additional unemployment benefits due to Congress’ inaction.

The notion that the $600 a week is too generous exposes an even deeper problem; low wages that have become stagnant are now the norm. The national minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, making the monthly wage of a full time employee $1,160 a month, before taxes. The average rent cost in the United States is $1,012, meaning that a full-time employee making minimum wage cannot even afford their rent, let alone other expenses. According to the AFL-CIO, if the federal minimum wage had been adjusted for workers’ productivity since 1968, the inflation-adjusted minimum wage would be $18.67. Due to inflation the federal minimum wage is worth 31% less than it was worth in 1968.

Instead of insisting that $600 a week is too generous to give hard working Americans being impacted by a pandemic we need to ask ourselves, and our elected officials, why we think it’s acceptable to pay people a wage that doesn’t allow them to support themselves, let alone a family.

Congress remains in a stalemate over the second stimulus. With many economists arguing that the economy needs it to survive, now is not the time to hold out on the American public. Many studies show that the 600/wk unemployment expansion boosted the economy, with spending increasing by $2 for every dollar given in unemployment aid. Months after $500 billion in corporate bailouts, why is the federal government so hesitant to help families in need but so quick to pull the trigger to keep billion-dollar businesses afloat?

Senator Lindsey Graham vehemently denied that the $600 a week would be included in a second stimulus bill, saying “I promise you over our dead bodies will this get reauthorized”. With Senator Graham making a comfortable $174K a year, it begs the question, whose dead bodies are we talking about? The 190K Americans who have already lost their lives to the virus, or the 13.9 million Americans who will stop receiving benefits in 2021 and possibly be forced into poverty?


Yours in Strength,

The Take Back Control Team

TBC Weekly Newsletter September 7, 2020

PPP Corruption 

A new report alleges more than $1 billion in Paycheck Protection Program fraud.


Long Term Effects for Children Affected by COVID-19

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), believed to be linked to COVID-19, damages the heart to such an extent that some children will need lifelong monitoring and interventions.


The Childcare Crisis

The Childcare industry is in crisis. An estimated 50% of daycares will go out of business without further financial help.


Rising Cases

Coronavirus is rising in 22 states, mostly in the Midwest and South.  Three weeks ago, only 3 states had rising case levels.


Unemployment Assistance No Longer Covers Cost of Living 

Half of unemployed Americans couldn’t cover basic expenses with their unemployment money in August. 


August Job Numbers Disappoint

The August July report falls short of expectations, signaling a slow recovery ahead.


TBC Weekly Newsletter August 31, 2020

*DISINFORMATION ALERT: Early yesterday morning, President Trump retweeted a post from a QAnon-related twitter account that took CDC data out of context to make a false claim regarding the COVID-19 death toll.


Here is what the data really means. As of August 22:

  • 9,210 Americans who had no exacerbating or underlying conditions died of COVID-19.
  • 152,182 people with underlying conditions died BECAUSE THEY CONTRACTED COVID-19. 

From the beginning of this pandemic it has been well understood that people with underlying conditions such as diabetes, heart problems, asthma, auto-immune diseases, and more are at greater risk of contracting and dying form COVID-19 than young, healthy people. When a person with one of these conditions contracts COVID-19 and dies from COVID-19 complications, claiming they did not die from COVID-19 is not only false and dangerous, it is disrespectful to the loved ones of those who have died.   



FDA Commissioner Willing to Prematurely Approve COVID-19 Vaccine

The FDA commissioner says he is willing to approve a vaccine before Phase Three clinical trials are complete.


A Double Dip Recession

Economists see at least 25% chance of double-dip recession and many don’t expect the GDP to rebound until at least 2022.


Consumer Confidence Increase Despite Stalemate Over Second Stimulus 

All though many jobs losses during the pandemic have become permanent and congress remains in a stalemate over a second stimulus, consumer confidence increases across the country.


Economic Recovery Hampered by Powerhouse States Struggling 

US economic recovery is hampered by powerhouse states struggling. States like New York have successfully flattened the curve but struggle with an above average unemployment rate. These 4 states account for 35% of the economic output in the country.


Hong Kong Reports First Official COVID-19 Reinfection

Hong Kong has confirmed the first case in which a man previously infected with COVID-19 recovered, then was re-infected a few months later.


Nevada Reports First Confirmed Case in the US of COVID-19 Reinfection

A Nevada man is the first person in the US confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 twice. He tested positive in mid April, tested negative in May, and then became sick and tested positive again at the beginning of June.


Midwestern States Set To Become New Hotspots

As national numbers decline, midwestern states have a record high number of cases, creating emerging hot spots. 


Surge of Infections in Reopened College Campuses

Colleges that have reopened campuses for in-person classes are experiencing a surge of infections. Iowa, Utah, North Carolina, and Alabama have all experienced major campus outbreaks and many college towns have either passed mask ordinances, shut down bars, or placed limits on crowd sizes at events.



Disinformation and Its Consequences

Information and facts are what help us make informed decisions during any crisis, including COVID19, but what happens when the facts are muddled by false information and conspiracy theories?


There are consequences – life or death consequences. A new study by The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene found that from January until March an estimated 800 deaths and 5,800 hospitalizations are a direct result of disinformation about COVID-19.


The rumors, disinformation, and conspiracy theories that caused these deaths and injuries include information regarding possible cures, transmission, morality, origin of the virus and many other unfounded “facts”.


One of the rumors discussed in the study was drinking bleach or alcohol to gain immunity from COVID-19. This rumor was perpetuated by the current administration, proving that disinformation isn’t just spreading from private citizens on Facebook, it’s coming from the people who hold positions of authority–further confusing the public. During a press briefing on April 24th at the White House, it was implied that disinfectants could be used internally as a treatment for COVID-19. Although they referred to these comments as “sarcastic” their words carry weight among a significant segment of the population. In the days following, many states saw a spike in poison control calls related to ingesting bleach and other disinfectants.


The internet, and specifically social media, is the prime breeding ground for COVID-19 disinformation. With millions of users and not enough moderator’s, “fake news” spreads like wildfire. From April through June Facebook removed 7 million posts that included fake information related to COVID-19. They also added warning notices to 98 million COVID-19 posts that were deemed “misleading but not harmful enough to remove”.


Even the sitting President isn’t exempt from Facebook’s removal of false information. Facebook recently removed a video posted by the current administration’s campaign where they claimed children are “almost immune” to COVID-19. This false claim comes only a few weeks after 97,000 children tested positive for COVID19 during the last two weeks of July.  More recently a study found that asymptomatic children may carry more virus particles in their airways than adults in ICUs.


Unfortunately, simply removing the misleading content won’t do much. A study published in Springer Link shows that redactions are rarely as effective as the initial spread of disinformation. Even scarier, disinformation is spreading faster than reliable information. According to a report by Avaaz “Content from the top 10 websites spreading health misinformation had almost four times as many estimated views on Facebook as equivalent content from the websites of 10 leading health institutions, including the WHO and the CDC.”


And it’s not just dangerous disinformation about COVID-19. False information is dangerous because it can shape national discourse and sway public opinion. David Lazer, author of the paper Combating Fake News: An Agenda for Research and Action says, ”such situations can enable discriminatory and inflammatory ideas to enter public discourse and be treated as fact. Once embedded, such ideas can in turn be used to create scapegoats, to normalize prejudices, to harden us-versus-them mentalities and even, in extreme cases, to catalyze and justify violence.”


It is up to us to use common sense and a healthy dose of skepticism when confronted with propaganda and disinformation.  We need to verify the sources of what we accept as facts. We need to ask if we believe something because we want it to be true.  We need to diversify our sources and the views they promote.  Our tech companies and social media conglomerates need to have a stronger stance on disinformation on their platforms and the bots that help to perpetuate it.  We need greater literacy education and funding in our schools so we can teach our kids how to verify the messaging fed to them on the internet and to distinguish fact from fiction.  We need to reduce the financial incentives for viral fake news and find a way to directly address it without legitimizing it.  It will take a multipronged and coordinated approach both as individuals and from our institutions to combat disinformation but it is vital in order to protect our democracy.


For more information on concrete steps that can be taken to combat disinformation, click here.

Yours in Strength,

The Take Back Control Team

States Need Funding

States have been begging the federal government for additional funding to combat COVID-19 and support critical infrastructure during this unprecedented recession. Although the HEROES Act included funding for the beleaguered states, the HEALS Act has no such mandate and Republicans have continuously voiced their opposition to additional aid for states. Mitch McConnell went so far as to suggest states should go bankrupt. Apart from the fact states cannot legally declare bankruptcy, there are two main reasons that this suggestion is nonsensical:  


  1. It would signal to the rest of the world that the US is in dire straits and truly spiraling in a way that would never have previously been thought possible.  Our standing on the world stage, already in tatters, would be completely diminished. 


  1. It would make it that much more difficult for the country as a whole to rebound from the recession. 


As the US sinks deeper and deeper into what promises to be a long and bleak economic downturn, states have been left on their own to try to fight and contain COVID-19 with limited resources and success. Borders are not physical. A virus overwhelming one state will spread to others.


But since federal help is not forthcoming, states are instead forced to slash their budgets and make cuts to essential programs and employees.


What’s on the chopping block?  Education, public employees like teachers and firefighters, important infrastructure maintenance. All highly important sectors that are also important job providers. 


Most states have money saved for tough times, but again, this is not just a tough time–it is a worldwide pandemic, a historic and life altering event that demands a coordinated and comprehensive response that is currently lacking.


States rely on income taxes and sales taxes, both of which have been devastated by the pandemic and resulting unemployment.  Nevada and Hawaii have had their tourism industries wiped out. “Responding to this crisis has created a multiyear budget crisis unlike anything the state has ever faced before, more than three times worse than the Great Recession,” says Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.  Maryland has had to cut $190 million from higher education so far.  States are reporting that they expect their tax revenues to decline up to 35% over the next year. This is much worse than the recession of 2008 which saw an average decline of 12.5% across state budgets.


The United States needs explicit and comprehensive guidance from the federal government during a time of national crisis–and this is an unprecedented, and literally viral, national crisis. At the very least, the federal government should be doing its best to provide states with adequate supplies and funding in an effort to help the overall economy. “We know that helping state and local governments is one of the most efficacious ways to support the economy in a downturn. For each dollar spent by state and local governments, the economy sees an estimated benefit of $1.34. In other words, the economy sees an immediate 34% return on the dollar, and this bang for the buck is among the highest of any policy step lawmakers can take,” says Mark Zandy, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. It seems that as long as the stock market is doing well, Republicans are unconcerned with the well being of the rest of the country.


Yours in Strength,

The Take Back Control Team


The Tale of Two Economies

While the stock market has bounced back, economists are increasingly concerned about shifting unemployment trends. As evictions continue and there is still no consensus on a second stimulus package, unemployment is solidifying–indicating change from mostly temporary layoffs to permanent termination which then means a much longer road to recovery.  


It’s almost like the US is living in two different economies.  One is for the stock market and the wealthy.  The other is for the millions at risk of eviction with no job and no relief that is being ground to dust under the success of the first one. Patrick Leary, the chief market strategist at Incaptial uneasily notes this discrepancy, “The S&P 500 has been impressive and has created a lot of wealth, but I am not sure that reflects the overall health of the economy.” That’s because the S&P 500 is weighted by big Tech firms like Apple, Amazon and Facebook that continue to do well.  Billionaires have increased their wealth by $637 billion since the start of the pandemic.  But that does nothing for the majority of Americans who are trying to put food on the table and take care of their families. 


The most vulnerable among us and those who cannot afford to stay home are more likely to contract COVID and then once recovered, receive a hefty medical bill.  Insurance companies have doubled their profits while patients are being sued by hospitals to cover their treatment. 


For those who make over $20 an hour, the disastrous effects of the recession have been mostly avoided while employees who make less continue to be impacted, like the 60% of NY restaurant workers that are unemployed and are being forced into poverty.  Even testing is biased.  Frontline and essential workers are waiting weeks to receive test results while partiers in the Hamptons can receive an instant test so they can enjoy a night out.


The Paycheck Protection Program is another example of how big business was able to come out on top of small businesses and the working class.  What was supposed to be a program specifically for businesses with under 500 employees, ended up being a boon to publicly traded companies when the language changed to 500 employees per location.  In addition, data shows that “larger companies with connections to major national or regional banks got priority treatment in the program’s initial phase.” Many prerequisites disqualified small businesses from receiving aid, including requiring a checking account, credit card and a previous loan to be considered for the loan in the first place.


Far from being a great equalizer, COVID-19 has laid bare the vast chasm between classes, exacerbating pre existing inequalities.  While politicians cry victory over stock market gains, the American people are suffering.  A rising S&P 500 during a time with record unemployment and 80,000 small businesses permanently closing their doors is a symptom of a malfunctioning system, not a rebounding economy. Gary Cohn, a former White House economic advisor tweeted, “the stock market continues to reflect big businesses increasing their market share during #COVID19. If a small business closes, a larger business fills the void. We need to contemplate what this means for Main Street USA going forward. Is this really the future we want?”


No, it is not.


Yours in Strength, 

The Take Back Control Team