This piece was originally published in the December 9, 2020 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.
“I [have] a responsibility to pull back the curtain for the American people and expose corruption in real time.”
— Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), explaining McConnell’s attempts to block pandemic relief
McConnell and his Senate allies are standing in the way of critical aid for their constituents while fighting to protect big corporations that endanger their workers.
Because of them, we’re running out of time to get help to people before the new year.
IN THE NEWS
- The fact that Americans haven’t received any kind of federal financial support for months despite the worsening pandemic represents a failure at the highest levels of government. But our country’s coronavirus response effort (or rather, lack thereof) is even more shameful when you think about it on a global scale. According to NBC News, the U.S. is the only wealthy country that isn’t providing financial support to its residents amid this growing surge of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
- Since the expiration of $600 weekly supplemental unemployment benefits and a one-time $1,200 check which barely covered a month’s worth of rent for many Americans, Trump and his friends in the Senate have just left us to fend for ourselves while trying to find our way out of this nightmare. And even though Trump indicated yesterday that he’d support another relief check as part of negotiations, his latest offer is wildly insufficient.
- Last night, Secretary Mnuchin told negotiators that Trump would support a one-time check of just $600 and zero supplemental unemployment benefits. While it’s encouraging that we’re talking about direct payments again, the recurring unemployment benefits that Trump wants to cut from the bill are a crucial provision if we’re actually trying to help people stay afloat.
- When these payments were still in effect, that extra $600 a week kept millions of unemployed Americans from falling behind on bills when they had nowhere to turn for income. Take it from the CEO of a major credit card company, who claims the extra unemployment funds allowed people to keep up with their credit card payments despite the otherwise horrific economic outlook. Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer appear to agree. They promptly rejected Mnuchin’s offer, calling it “unacceptable.”
- The latest proposal, released on Wednesday morning by a bipartisan group of senators, also appears to need more work. It still includes the liability waiver that would exempt corporations from being held accountable for COVID-related injury or death that happens on their watch. On top of that, advocates for paid leave are sounding the alarm on the proposal’s failure to extend the paid family and sick leave benefits that Congress passed back in March. Pelosi has said she would advocate for an extension of these provisions in a final bill.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- While the rest of us suffer through the winter, billionaires are still thriving. According to this tracker, America’s 651 billionaires are currently $1 trillion richer than they were at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing their total wealth to $4 trillion. What’s more, the richest ten on that list are now worth a total of $1 trillion.
- $1 trillion might not mean anything at first glance. After all, we’ve spent months steeped in a daily barrage of pandemic-related numbers and records. So let’s put this into perspective. If you stacked up $1 trillion in one dollar bills, it would wrap around the Earth almost three times. Another way to look at it? A trillion dollars is enough to send every person in America a check for $3,000.
- The pandemic is still getting worse across the U.S., despite what you might assume based on the federal government’s lack of action. Here’s the latest snapshot of new cases per day:
- [content warning: police violence] Another disturbing police shooting of a Black man has sparked national outrage, this time in Columbus, Ohio. 23-year-old Casey Goodson was outside his apartment when police shot and killed him last Friday. His family says the police’s version of what took place — that the victim was “waving a gun” and that they shot him following a “verbal argument” — is out of character for Goodson. Investigators have told the family that there were no body cameras, surveillance cameras, or nearby witnesses present, meaning their version of the story is the only account available. Goodson was reportedly not the suspect being pursued by the officers who killed him, and he was not the target of any investigation.
- Facebook is facing two massive antitrust suits which allege that the social media giant has become a monopoly. At a press conference this afternoon, authorities from the Federal Trade Commission said that they’re seeking to force Facebook to divest from Instagram and WhatsApp, which they acquired in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
- A separate group of 48 state attorneys general led by New York Attorney General Letitia James alleges that Facebook has “used its monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users.” It’s worth noting that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is currently the fifth richest person in the world.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- The Pandemic Exposes Failings of New York’s Parole System by Alice Speri (The Intercept)
- We Can’t Message Our Way Out of a Public Health Crisis by Abdullah Shihipar (The Nation)
- What you need to know about the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines by Carolyn Y. Johnson and Aaron Steckelberg (Washington Post)
- ‘A Tsunami of Change’: How Protests Fueled a New Crop of Prosecutors by Tim Arango (New York Times)