The Issue Is: Reopening America and returning to normal

The federal guidelines for reopening America have been unveiled, but returning to normal could be a long way off.

This, as the number of Americans testing positive for coronavirus has passed 700,000, the number of deaths has hit 37,000, and the number of those filing for unemployment as a result of the virus has ballooned to 22,000,000 in just four weeks.

This week, Elex and "The Issue Is" continue exploring all things coronavirus, talking policy, politics, sports, and more.


Just two months ago, Congressman Adam Schiff was the Democratic face of impeachment. Now, like some 9 in 10 Americans, the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee is working remotely, isolated at home with his family.

The conversation kicks off with Schiff's reaction to the guidelines President Trump laid out regarding reopening America in the face of coronavirus, a phased approach that hands the green light to state governors.

"Governors want to make sure that they are ready before they talk about reopening," Schiff cautioned, saying states need to make sure they have the testing, swabs and testing kits necessary before moving forward.

"This push to prematurely open," Schiff continued, "doesn't make sense until we're ready, and could lead to more misery for people."

Part of that misery could involve the dire economic situation many currently face, especially as some 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment in just the last month alone. Even more, the $350 Billion set aside by Congress in the CARES Act to be used for small business loans has already run out.

So what next in terms of Congressional relief?

Schiff said his constituents want to see the small business loan program continue, but there have been a number of problems identified, including big banks allegedly favoring their best customers while leaving other small businesses behind.

"Our states, our cities, and our hospitals are in crisis right now, and they need resources too, so we're hoping we can get bipartisan agreement to do all that right now, and then move to bigger relief items on the agenda down the road," Schiff said regarding the next wave of Congressional relief.

In the meantime, Schiff has signed on to a House bill by Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) that would go beyond the one-time $1,200 direct payment of the CARES Act, and would instead provide federally funded guaranteed paychecks for Americans throughout the crisis.

"Have the federal government guarantee a large percent of payroll, 80, or 90, or even 100% of payroll," Schiff said. "Workers don't get laid off, they don't have to go on unemployment, when the economy comes back they don't have to start looking all over again for a job, businesses don't have to close."

Beyond Jayapal's proposal, which would guarantee 100% of payroll, a separate proposal in the Senate from Josh Hawley (R-MO) would guarantee 80% of pay.

Before wrapping up, Schiff revealed a little about his quarantine life.

The Burbank Congressman has yet to jump on the "Tiger King" trend, instead opting for classic films like "Diner."


Next, Elex is joined by Carla Marinucci, senior writer of POLITICO's California Playbook.

An expert on California politics, Marinucci starts by breaking down CA Governor Newsom's rising profile as a result of his response to coronavirus.

"Newsom is a star in national politics," Marinucci said. "His poll numbers are through the roof, he's number one among all of the Governors in terms of job approval rating right now, 83%."

Marinucci credits Newsom's success both to his ability to navigate the crisis, getting Californians masks and equipment they need and working with other West Coast Governors on a coordinated response, as well as his burgeoning relationship with President Trump.

"He and Donald Trump are now BFFs, they are getting along, Trump is praising him everyday, and that has worked in Newsom's favor," Marinucci said.

Newsom has thus far acted so successfully throughout the pandemic, that some, including friend-of-the-show Jessica Levinson have suggested the possibility of replacing Joe Biden atop the Democratic ticket with the California Governor.

"People have always looked at him with regard to being a future White House potential, and now moreso" Marinucci said. "The fact is, when it comes to Joe Biden, he's still not there yet."

Still, while some voters may be questioning the name at the top of the ticket, party leaders aren't, as this week, in the shadow of coronavirus, Biden secured the formal endorsements of former rivals Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren, as well as former boss, President Barack Obama.

"All of those folks that were on the debate stage with Joe Biden, all of those Democratic candidates, are now behind him and with him, and that is a very big deal for the Democrats," said Marinucci.


We wrap things up with Ryan Braun, left fielder for the Milwaukee Brewers.

In the aftermath of 2018's Woolsey Fire, Braun, along with players Christian Yelich and Mike Moustakas, Brewers Co-Owner Mike Attanasio, and Rams' QB Jared Goff, formed California Strong, aimed at raising funds to support Californians in the face of future disasters and tragedies.

With coronavirus making its way through the state, that "future disaster" has arrived.

But before discussing his charitable efforts, Braun talks about the future of baseball. This, as LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said this week that concerts, sporting events, and other large gatherings may be off the calendar until 2021.

"I'm optimistic that there will be some semblance of a baseball season," Braun responded. "I think it will in all likelihood look drastically different that any baseball season we've played before, or that anybody else has had the opportunity to watch before."

Braun also addressed reports that the season may return, albeit without fans, by moving all 30 MLB teams to Arizona, or splitting teams between Spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida.

"Unfortunately, it may be our only option at this point," Braun said. "If the option is either no sports whatsoever, or we can play our sport in a drastically different setting, I think we all are remaining hopeful and optimistic that at some point we're able to play even if it's drastically different than what we've experienced in the past."

In the interim, Braun and Yelich have been opening their own pockets, helping to pay the lost wages of the employees at Miller Park, where the Brewers play.

Those personal gestures are in addition to the work of California Strong, which has thus far contributed $120K in direct financial aid to Californians impacted by COVID-19, $130K to researchers at UCLA, UCSF, and Cedars Sinai, as well as some 100K meals to Feeding America.

"We're proud of being able to give back, we're incredibly grateful for the overwhelming amount of support we've received from the community," Braun said. "But more than anything, in a moment like this, there are so many people that are doing so much good, there are so many people trying to help, and I think it sends a message of unity."

On what he's learned from his charitable efforts, Braun continued: "There's no more meaningful thing you can do on this planet than positively impact other people's lives. For all of us as athletes, we've tried to use the position that we're in to help other people, there's no greater feeling for us."


The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For airtimes and more information, go to