Lowering the Barr

This piece was originally published in the September 17, 2020 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.

Source: Drew Angerer/Getty

If you take the blue states out…”

— Trump, explaining to reporters that when he chooses to ignore the deaths of thousands of Americans from COVID-19, the death count doesn’t seem quite as bad

So much for Trump’s promise to “bring down” drug prices. Turns out, drug price increases were three times higher than wage growth last year.

Share this graphic on Twitter and Facebook to get the facts out:

Drug price increases were three times higher than wage growth last year.


  • Attorney General Bill Barr went on a lengthy, televised rant last night in which he compared pandemic restrictions to slavery and mocked career employees in his own agency. Speaking to students at Hillsdale College, which is known for its conservative leanings, Barr said that lockdowns and stay-at-home orders were “like house arrest” and accused governors of trying to “treat free citizens as babies” in instituting these necessary public health measures. “Other than slavery,” he continued, “which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.” He also equated career DOJ employees to preschoolers for questioning his blatant politicization of the department.
  • For Barr to compare ANYTHING to the horrors of slavery is clearly both unacceptable and racist. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) responded to Barr’s comments today in an interview with CNN. “You know, I think that that statement by Mr. Barr was the most ridiculous, tone-deaf, God-awful thing I’ve ever heard,” Clyburn said, calling it “incredible” that the “chief law enforcement officer in this country would equate human bondage to expert advice to save lives.” As the pandemic continues to take a disproportionate toll on Black and Brown people, the Attorney General makes it clearer every day that he’s no ally to minority communities. (That’s not to say we’re surprised, though. He showed us his true colors long before now.)
  • And while we don’t yet know specifics, statewide lockdowns likely saved thousands of lives and were critical tools in limiting the spread of the coronavirus. Barr’s boss, on the other hand, has failed to take any serious action to promote proper safety and health measures.
  • Of course, slavery comparisons aren’t the only disturbing thing we learned about Barr this week. In a recent call, he reportedly told federal prosecutors to consider charging racial justice protesters with sedition, or insurrection against lawful authority. According to sources familiar with the discussions, Barr also recently inquired about criminally charging Seattle’s mayor for allowing a handful of city residents to establish a police-free protest zone over the summer.

How do you debunk right-wing lies without promoting them in the process? Don’t miss the latest edition of What’s Trending?, where we explain the “truth sandwich” method, localized disinformation, wildfire conspiracies, and more. Subscribe here to get it in your inbox next week.


  • With seemingly no end in sight in the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the United States is approaching yet another dark milestone: 200,000 deaths. To put this in context, more Americans are expected to have died from COVID-19 by the end of this week than the entire populations of each of 670 major American cities. This sad milestone comes just days after tapes surfaced of Trump admitting that he intentionally played down the threat of the pandemic. He concealed the truth, set an irresponsible example for Americans, and failed to enact necessary precautions that could have saved thousands of lives — and Americans are paying the deadly price.
  • A senior Trump administration official confirmed that the White House offered to provide COVID-19 tests to the Big Ten conference so that college football could resume — all while thousands of people were getting sick and dying from working essential jobs. The Big Ten reversed their decision to cancel the football season after securing tests through a private company instead, but this certainly shows us where Trump’s priorities lie. Trump has been insisting that sports resume for months, ignoring the reality that the virus is still running rampant throughout the country.
  • The White House rejected a plan for the USPS to send 5 masks to every household, reportedly to avoid “panic,” according to the release of nearly 10,000 pages of internal USPS documents. Trump also cited not wanting to cause panic as his excuse for concealing what he knew about the virus in January, again showing that keeping Americans safe during the pandemic is not anywhere near his top priority.
  • Remember when federal officers tear-gassed peaceful anti-racism protesters outside the White House so Trump could get to a photo op? New documents released last night revealed sworn testimony from officers on site alleging that the Trump administration wanted to go even further by using heat rays to suppress the Constitutionally-protected demonstration. According to sworn testimony from D.C. National Guard Maj. Adam D. DeMarco, defense officials were searching for “devices that could emit deafening sounds and make anyone within range feel like their skin is on fire,” technology which DeMarco noted is deemed too unpredictable to use in war zones.
  • A new report from 19th News found that women in Trump’s White House earn just 69 cents for every $1 paid to male staffers. This is even more striking than the (also very bad!) nationwide gender disparity of 82 cents per dollar, not to mention the much wider pay gaps that Black, Latinx, and Indigenous women consistently experience. For context, the disparity among staffers during the Obama administration was between 84 and 89 cents on the dollar, making it narrower than both Trump’s current gap and the national pay gap at that time.


Like the Progress Report? Our team relies on the support of grassroots progressives like you. Chip in $5 or whatever you can to power our work.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.