Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Zach Gibson/Stringer, The Washington Post/Getty Contributor

Bernie Sanders is poised to become an economic scapegoat for both the White House and Corporate America, assuming that Sanders comes through Super Tuesday unscathed.

The big picture: If the U.S. economy remains strong, President Trump and CEOs will claim credit (as they've been doing for three years). If it turns sour, they'll blame Bernie (even though it's a largely baseless charge).

  • We got a sneak preview yesterday, when a Fox Business Network anchor pinned the Dow drop on Nevada caucus results, rather than on rising coronavirus infections outside of China.

Presidents receive too much credit and criticism for the economy, a popular maxim that we've seen manifested in past reelection results.

The state of play: The core validity of American capitalism wasn't at issue in those prior tilts. Bernie Sanders opens that door by virtue of his self-described democratic socialism, giving Trump a rhetorical shield unavailable to past incumbents. And the same goes for CEOs and boards, who normally bear the brunt of poor performance.

  • This isn't to say that such arguments would necessarily work, particularly given that GDP growth and corporate earnings both softened before Sanders surged.
  • Nor that they should work, as only one president at a time sets policy.
  • It's just that they may work, particularly when the only alternative for Trump and CEOs would be accepting blame.

The bottom line: Sanders, just by virtue of his ascendant existence, gives today's political and business leaders a "heads I win, tails you lose" response to whatever the economy throws at us heading into November.

Go deeper: Reality check on Bernie Sanders' biggest ideas

Go deeper

Coronavirus cases rise in 25 states

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Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

New coronavirus infections rose over the past week in half the country.

Why it matters: The U.S. remains largely unable or unwilling to control the spread of the virus.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 33,976,447 — Total deaths: 1,014,266 — Total recoveries: 23,644,023Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 7,233,945 — Total deaths: 206,959 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Education: School-aged children now make up 10% of all U.S COVID-19 cases.
  4. Health: Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine won't be ready until 2021
  5. Travel: CDC: 3,689 COVID-19 or coronavirus-like cases found on cruise ships in U.S. waters — Airlines begin mass layoffs while clinging to hope for federal aid
  6. Business: Real-time data show economy's rebound slowing but still going.
  7. Sports: Steelers-Titans NFL game delayed after coronavirus outbreak.
Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump signs stopgap bill to prevent government shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel and President Trump arrives at the U.S. Capitol in March. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Trump signed a bill to extend current levels of government funding after funding expired briefly, White House spokesperson Judd Deere confirmed early Thursday.

Why it matters: The move averts a government shutdown before the Nov. 3 election. The Senate on Wednesday passed the legislation to fund the federal government through Dec. 11, by a vote of 84-10.