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California Gov. Newsom sees coronavirus as an opportunity to usher in a new, 'progressive era'


Capitalizing on the crisis

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks in front of the hospital ship USNS Mercy that arrived Friday into the Port of Los Angeles. (Photo by Carolyn Cole-Pool/Getty Images)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) sees the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to push progressive policies, and his comments are the latest evidence that politicians are eager to use the crisis to advance their own agendas.

Newsom was asked during a news conference Tuesday whether he saw the potential for the coronavirus outbreak to be used for the advancement of more progressive policies on the national and state level — a chance for a new "progressive era."

The governor started his answer by detailing persistent issues of growing income inequality in California and elsewhere, before circling back to the question he was asked.

"Forgive me for being long-winded, but absolutely we see this as an opportunity to reshape the way we do business and how we govern," Newsom said. "And that shouldn't put shivers up the spines of you know one party or the other. I think it's an opportunity anew for both parties to come together and meet this moment and really start to think more systemically, not situationally, not just about getting out of this moment, but more sustainably and systemically to consider where we can go together in this historic moment if we meet it at a national level, in a state, and sub-national level. So, the answer is yes."

Newsom isn't the first Democrat to publicly state that coronavirus is a political opportunity. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said recently that the negotiations for the stimulus bill represented "a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision."

Democrats were advocating for environmental and labor reforms in the stimulus bill that did not directly relate to aiding Americans or struggling businesses. Something Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was highly upset by the attempt.

"Here are some of the items on the Democratic wish list, over which they choose to block this legislation last night," McConnell said on March 23. "Tax credits for solar energy and wind energy. Provisions to force employers to give special new treatment to big labor. And listen to this: New emissions standards for the airlines. Are you kidding me? ... Democrats won't let us fund hospitals or save small businesses unless they get to dust off the Green New Deal."

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