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Trump’s lethal 4-part plan betrays the real reason he wants to open the economy: Robert Reich

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- Commentary

Donald Trump is getting nervous. Internal polls show him losing in November unless the economy comes roaring back.

So what is Trump’s reelection strategy? Ignore the warnings of public health experts and reopen the economy at all costs.

Here’s his lethal 4-part plan:

Step 1: Remove income support, so people have no choice but to return to work.    

Trump’s Labor Department has decided that furloughed employees “must accept” an employer’s offer to return to work and therefore forfeit unemployment benefits, regardless of the risk of returning to work before it’s safe.

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Forcing people to choose between contracting a potentially deadly virus or losing their livelihood is inhumane. It’s also nonsensical. Our collective  health in this pandemic depends on as many workers as possible staying home.

Step 2: Hide the facts.

No one knows how many Americans are infected because the Trump administration continues to drag its heels on testing. As of May 5th, only 7.5 million tests have been completed in a population of over 330 million Americans.

Is this what Jared Kushner meant by a “great success story?”

Florida, one of the last states to issue a shelter-in-place order and one of the first to reopen, has stopped releasing medical examiners’ statistics on numbers of coronavirus victims because the numbers are higher than the state’s official count.

But it’s impossible to fight the virus without adequate data. Anthony Fauci, the administration’s leading infectious disease expert, warns that reopening poses “a really significant risk” without a huge ramp up in testing.

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Not surprisingly, the White House has blocked Fauci from testifying before the House.

Trump fired Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi Grimm after she released a report detailing widespread shortages of testing and PPE at hospitals across the country. His handpicked replacement will now handle a whistleblower complaint filed by Dr. Rick Bright, the ousted director of the office involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine.

Dr. Bright’s complaint alleges the administration repeatedly ignored his warnings about critical supply shortages and removed him from his position because he refused to adopt scientifically unproven treatments for the virus.

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Step 3: Push a false narrative about “freedom” and “liberation.”

Weeks ago, Trump called on citizens to “LIBERATE” states like Michigan, whose Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, imposed strict stay-at-home rules.

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Michigan has the third-highest number of Covid-19 deaths in America, although tenth in population. When Whitmer extended the rules to May 28, gun-toting protesters rushed the state house chanting “Lock her up!”

Rather than condemn their behavior, Trump suggested Whitmer “make a deal” with them.

Meanwhile, Attorney General William Barr has directed the Justice Department to take legal action against any state or local authorities imposing lockdown measures that “could be violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens.”

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Making this about “freedom” is absurd.

Freedom does not mean you have the right to endanger the lives of others through your own irresponsibility and ignorance.

Freedom is not forcing people back to work in unsafe environments to boost billionaires’ stock portfolios.

Freedom is meaningless for people who have no choice but to accept a job that puts their life at risk.

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Step 4: Shield businesses against lawsuits for spreading the infection.


Trump is pushing to give businesses that reopen a “liability shield” against legal action by workers or customers who get infected by the virus.

He says he’ll use the Defense Production Act to force meat processing plants to remain open, despite high rates of Covid-19 infections and deaths among meatpackers. “That’ll solve any liability problems,” Trump said.

Mitch McConnell insists that the next stimulus bill include legal immunity for corporations that cause workers or consumers to become infected.

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“We have a red line on liability,” McConnell says. “It won’t pass the Senate without it.”

But how can the economy safely reopen if companies don’t have an incentive to keep people safe? It can’t, and it wont.

Which leads me to my final point:

Here’s the truth: The biggest obstacle to reopening the economy is the pandemic itself.

Any rush to reopen without adequate testing and tracing – a massive increase from what we’re doing now – will cause even more deaths and a longer economic crisis.

The first responsibility of a president is to keep the public safe. But Donald Trump couldn’t care less.

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He’s trying to force the economy to reopen to boost his electoral chances, and he’s selling out Americans’ health to seal the deal. No matter the cost, Donald Trump’s chief concern is and will always be himself.


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Melania Trump statue torched near her Slovenian hometown: report

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On Wednesday, The Daily Beast reported that a wooden statue of First Lady Melania Trump carved from a tree outside her hometown in Slovenia last year has been burned to the ground.

"The artist who had commissioned the sculpture, Brad Downey, had the statue removed on July 5," reported Madeline Charbonneau. "Downey, who is American but works out of Berlin, had hoped his statue of the first lady would create dialogue about American politics, given that Melania Trump is an immigrant married to a president who seeks to stem immigration. Though the investigation is still pending, Downey said he hopes to interview the perpetrators for an upcoming exhibition."

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FBI investigating Chinese businessman who bankrolled media company linked to Steve Bannon

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A Wall Street Journal expose revealed that a Chinese businessman is under investigation by the FBI after he used funds to bankroll a media company with ties to a former aide to President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon.

"Federal Bureau of Investigation national security agents in recent months have asked people who know both men for information on Mr. Guo’s activities, including the source of funds of a media company linked to him that hired Mr. Bannon in 2018 as a consultant, the people said," according to the Journal. "As recently as last week, the FBI met with one person familiar with the companies tied to Mr. Guo, the people said. The probe has been underway for more than six months, and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn have been involved.

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Lady Antebellum changed their name for racial sensitivity — now they’re suing the Black singer who already used the name

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In June, as the national conversation about racial justice in the wake of the George Floyd killing pushed many groups and organizations to examine the racial connotations of their brands, the country music group Lady Antebellum announced they were changing their name to "Lady A" to remove reference to the slavery period of Southern history.

There was just one problem: an African-American blues singer in Seattle, Anita White, already went by that name. Now, according to Pitchfork, the band is going to court for the right to use the trademark.

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