The bad news (question: is there any other kind anymore?) is that the most important part of Congress’s emergency coronavirus relief is set to expire tonight, and millions of Americans will experience financial hardship as a result. The good news (answer: yes!) is that help is on the way. Probably.
Thanks to Republican dithering, the $600 weekly expanded unemployment benefit Congress passed in March (and which House Democrats voted to extend way back in May) will almost certainly sunset at midnight, meaning every American who’s qualified for unemployment since our coronavirus crisis began will lose their $600 weekly bonus payments, causing incomes to plummet, at least temporarily, just as landlords come knocking for rent payments that have been frozen for months.
Republicans appear to have brought this economic pain upon Americans, and political harm upon themselves, on the theory that they could milk huge concessions from Democrats by bringing the country to the brink of crisis then forcing a last-minute negotiation. That strategy fell apart when it turns out—whoops!—Senate Republicans can’t agree on anything. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring the House-passed HEROES Act to a vote, and so over the cliff we go.
The irony is that Senate Republican disarray means they’ve effectively written themselves out of the process, leaving Democrats to negotiate directly with the Trump administration—and they appear to be driving a pretty hard bargain. They have reportedly rejected White House offers to extend the unemployment benefits on a short-term basis, and forced the White House to relent on a demand for a “liability shield” to protect negligent employers who expose their workers to coronavirus from lawsuits—a provision McConnell had previously insisted upon in any coronavirus response bill. Add it all up and Republicans have to choose whether to extend the unemployment payments into the new year, or plunge the country into mass homelessness and hunger right before the election. Fun choice!
While they have all this leverage, Democrats should use it to save the election from President Trump’s ongoing efforts to sabotage it.
Under intense pressure from Republican leaders and prominent conservatives, Trump has (mostly) abandoned his insane “suggestion” that the election be delayed indefinitely. He has instead replaced it with a new demand that the election be called on November 3, even if millions of ballots remain uncounted. “I’ve been watching elections. And they say the ‘projected winner’ or the ‘winner of the election’—I don’t want to see that take place in a week after November 3 or a month or, frankly, with litigation and everything else that can happen, years.”
With an unprecedented number of people voting absentee thanks to the raging plague Trump failed to contain, it’s likely we won’t know who won the election on election night, and Trump’s doing everything in his power to make that impossible. Postal workers now say the loyalist Trump placed in charge of the Postal Service, Louis DeJoy, has instituted policies that “could undermine their ability to deliver ballots on time for the November election.”
Trump can’t cancel the election, but his new play is obvious: Trap as many mail ballots into a backlogged postal system as he can, then claim efforts to count them after Election Day are illegitimate. We know prominent Republicans will play along with this scam, because they did the same thing after the 2018 midterms (see: Rubio, Marco). Democrats can’t stop Republicans from lying and trying to cheat. But they can insist that this relief bill include ample funds for both the Post Office and election administration—and they must.
On today's episode of Unholier Than Thou: In the years following the election of Donald Trump, antisemitism has been on the rise in America, marked by an increase in hate speech and violence against Jewish people.
This past month, some of that hate speech happened to come from the mouths of a select few notable Black people. Nonetheless, the conversation in the media was: Do Black people have an antisemitism problem?
To help expose the intrinsic racism of this question, host Phillip Picardi spoke to three individuals who have gone underrepresented in these conversations: Black Jewish folks. We hear from Rabbi Sandra Lawson, rabbinical student Kendell Pinckney, and organizer Shekhiynah about being caught in the middle of two crucial American conversations: the fight against racism and the fight against antisemitism. Listen & subscribe wherever you get your podcasts→
President Trump’s appointee to oversee Voice of America has launched an investigation into a deleted video that was deemed to be too pro-Biden. Last week, VOA’s Urdu service posted content about an online Biden campaign event reaching out to Muslim Americans. Top VOA officials found that the content violated the network’s editorial policies and reasonably ordered it taken down, then less reasonably considered immediately firing the four contractors involved in publishing it. Michael Pack, the new CEO of VOA’s parent company who fired the heads of multiple outlets as soon as he took office, has now gotten personally involved, in what appears to be his next step towards transforming VOA into a Trump propaganda machine.
The dozen largest coronavirus clusters in the country are all located within jails and prisons. More than 100,000 people have been infected in correctional facilities across the U.S., and at least 802 incarcerated people and correctional officers have died. It’s an extremely predictable outcome: Prisons are overcrowded with vulnerable populations that can’t social distance or follow recommended hygiene protocols. The country’s failure to protect those within the prison system means tens of thousands of people convicted of minor crimes now face a potential death sentence, and without further reducing prison populations, the crisis will only get worse.