Headlines: August 4, 2020
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Members of Congress have made little progress on the Covid-19 economic relief bill that could ease the financial hardships of millions of Americans. Four days after the CARES Act unemployment benefits expired, House Democrats are standing firm on their demand to extend the $600-a-week in payouts while Republicans refuse to give in. According to AP, “Republicans have yet to offer any aid to states to prevent furloughs, layoffs and cuts to services.” After a 2-hour set of negotiations on Tuesday Democratic Representative Hakeem Jeffries said, “The $600 unemployment insurance benefit is essential because there are no jobs to go back to…We’ve got to help out everyday Americans. That’s a line in the sand.” But Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer was more optimistic saying, “We are really getting an understanding of each side’s position. And we’re making some progress on certain issues moving closer together.”
Axios National Political Correspondent Jonathan Swan interviewed President Donald Trump this week and challenged him on his consistently false claims that the US had handled its coronavirus crisis well. In an exchange about measuring deaths the President revealed he may not understand what “per capita” or proportionality means in an interview on Axios that many say was an embarrassment. When challenged with the documented death toll of 1,000 Americans losing the battle against coronavirus per day Trump said, “it is what it is.”
Covid-19 infections and deaths continue to surge around the country and the state of Mississippi now appears to be the worst hit in the nation, overtaking Florida for the highest number of infections per capita. In Texas the Covid-19 death of one man prompted an angry obituary written by his wife that has gone viral. Stacey Nagy wrote in a local paper about her late husband David’s death, “Family members believe David’s death was needless. They blame his death and the deaths of all the other innocent people, on Trump, Abbott and all the politicians who did not take this pandemic seriously and were more concerned with their popularity and votes than lives.” Ms. Nagy also blamed mask refusers as, “ignorant, self centered and selfish people” who ignore medical professionals and instead believe that “their ‘right’ not to wear a mask was more important than killing innocent people.” A new NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll found that 58% of Americans do not trust the President on the coronavirus and an NPR/Ipsos poll found that, “Two-thirds of respondents said they believe the U.S. is handling the pandemic worse than other countries.”
The President’s base has begun to erode as per UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies which conducted a survey. The findings show that in the state of California Joe Biden leads Trump by a whopping 39%. Trump’s base in the state has shrunk to 29% of voters and these grim numbers are reflected in many other states as well. Meanwhile Arizonans voted in their primary elections on Tuesday and at stake is control of the state Senate with Democrats potentially taking over from Republicans. Election authorities in Arizona are expecting record turnout with Democrats leading Republicans in returning ballots. On the general election front California Congresswoman Karen Bass, a progressive Democrat, has jumped into the top three choices of Biden’s running mates and has been noticed by media outlets. Biden is expected to announce his choice of Vice President this week.
Trump continued to attack mail-in voting for the November 3rd election saying in his Axios interview with Jonathan Swan that, “you could have a case where this election won’t be decided on the evening of Nov. 3. This election could be decided two months later.” He separately claimed that he has the authority to sign an executive order against mail-in voting – he doesn’t. Trump, whose Postmaster General has taken steps to undermine the postal service said that USPS was not prepared to handle nationwide vote-by-mail. The Postal Service shot back with a statement saying it has, “ample capacity to adjust our nationwide processing and delivery network to meet projected Election and Political Mail volume.” After the state of Nevada said it would mail all voters ballots, Trump promised to sue. Six other states are doing the same as Nevada. North Carolinians will be among the first in the nation to begin voting in the general election next month when their ballots begin arriving. But on Tuesday Trump reversed his position on mail-in voting–only for the state of Florida saying on Twitter, “Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True.” Giving the impression that mail-in voting was only good enough for Republicans, he added, “in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail! #MAGA.”
Several new reports reflect changing demographics in the US with the Brookings Institution finding that Americans under the age of 40 are now the majority of the population at 50.7%. The skewing of the population toward younger people goes hand-in-hand with greater diversity with nearly half of that under-40 population identifying as nonwhite. And the health policy journal Milbank Quarterly published a report on Tuesday showing that the states where people live the longest have the strictest environmental laws, stronger gun control and stronger protections for minorities. These are also states that tend to be run by Democrats. And the US Census, which is supposed to systematically track Americans, has now decided to end its population counting efforts a month early. Only about 63% of American households have been estimated to have responded to the Census questionnaire. The resulting numbers are likely to be major underestimates, complicating efforts of funding and proportional political representation.
Newly released footage of George Floyd being confronted in his car by Minneapolis police moments before he was killed adds to the overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing. Floyd, whose death sparked a massive national uprising, is seen begging police not to shoot him and apologizing throughout as the officers cursed at him using vulgar language. Amnesty International’s new report on American police conduct during the Black Lives Matter protests exposes what the organization called, “the shocking failure to limit the use of force by law enforcement to situations where it is necessary and proportionate to an actual threat.” The report also, “details how protesters, journalists, legal observers and street medics were met with police violence.”
And finally Trump denounced Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance’s investigation as yet another “witch hunt” against him. DA Vance has demanded 8 years of Trump’s tax returns because of, “public reports of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.”