Late yesterday, the Trump administration filed a new legal brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The brief supports a group of GOP-led states’ challenge to the once-controversial healthcare law, which the Supreme Court previously announced it would take up in its next term beginning in October. The main legal argument centers around whether or not the law is still constitutional following Congress’ 2017 repeal of financial penalties for Americans who ignore the ACA’s individual mandate. Critics of the latest effort to dismantle Obamacare point to the 20+ million Americans who would lose health insurance coverage if the law were removed without a simultaneous replacement, an argument they feel is even more compelling in the midst of a global pandemic. Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reaction to the administration’s filing was unsurprisingand further highlights the political difficulties in trying to relitigate an issue that, though one of the most polarizing of the past decade, has gradually become more accepted as a part of life by many Americans.
Sounds like a broken record.
Mostly because it is. Today, Florida shattered its previous highest daily Covid-19 case count of 5,463 with a record high 8,942 positive tests. Partly to blame for this surge is the level at which the virus re-transmits in Florida, as it currently sits at an estimated 1.40 Rt; a relatively high number that means, at present, Florida is the 48th worst state in the nation for containing the virus. A rule of thumb for analyzing the Rt numbers, is anything over 1 will spread quickly, in contrast to being under 1 where the virus stops spreading. As a tacit acknowledgment of this rapid community spread, today DBPR Secretary Halsey Beshears, suspended consumption of alcohol at bars effective immediately with an emergency order.
Florida fell short of estimated revenues by about $780 million in May—approximately $100 million less than the prior month’s loss—but bringing the combined revenue loss of April and May to a whopping $1.6 billion. The major factor pushing the fall was sales tax collections. The monthly revenue report shows the Florida sales tax revenue at about $695 million, or 32% lower in May compared to last year. Because sales taxes are collected the month after the sale took place, the revenue reflects the economy during April when the Covid-19 shutdowns began. The shutdowns are causing an outsized drop in state revenues because Florida’s general revenue budget is so reliant on sales tax collections. Besides building-related industries, all sectors were affected. The tourism and hospitality industries took the biggest hit. Before the shutdowns in March, Florida was about $202 million above revenue estimates. As the next fiscal year starts on July 1, Gov. Ron DeSantis is preparing to make cuts to the state’s budget. The budget was passed in March, just as we started to see cases of Covid-19.