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‘Speaking of looting…’: Trump admin. refuses to disclose corporate recipients of $500 billion in coronavirus bailout funds

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“This is outrageous AND exactly what was obviously going to happen AND exactly why many of us opposed CARES as written.”

Progressive critics and advocacy groups are responding with alarm and anger to the Trump administration’s refusal to disclose the names of more than 4.5 million companies that have collectively received over $500 billion in corporate bailout money through a federal program created to provide businesses with relief from the coronavirus pandemic.

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The over $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed by President Donald Trump in March established the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) with $349 billion in funding for forgivable loans. After the initial capital ran out in just 13 days, lawmakers approved $310 billion more—though over $130 billion of that amount was still left as of Tuesday.

Although, as the Washington Post reported, the Small Business Administration (SBA) “typically discloses names of borrowers from the loan program” on which the PPP is based, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testified to the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship that he won’t be following that model for the Covid-19 program, despite concerns about which companies are benefiting from it.

As Mnuchin told the Senate committee Wednesday: “We believe that that’s proprietary information, and in many cases for sole proprietors and small businesses, it is confidential information.” The secretary’s comments provoked a barrage of condemnation, particularly among individuals and groups that had previously expressed concern about the PPP.

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“Making sure trillions in aid goes to workers, not profiteers, begins with knowing where the aid goes,” Bartlett Naylor, Public Citizen’s financial policy advocate, told Common Dreams of the federal government’s Covid-19 bailout efforts. “Zero transparency is red carpet for hucksters, schemers, and battlefield scavengers.”

Public Citizen tweeted Thursday about Mnuchin’s remarks, blasting his refusal to disclose businesses getting PPP funds as “unconscionable, jaw-dropping corruption.”

Progressives swiftly echoed the group’s critique in their own tweets—including Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout, who wrote: “This is outrageous AND exactly what was obviously going to happen AND exactly why many of us opposed CARES as written.”

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Jeet Heer, national affairs correspondent at The Nationhighlighted Public Citizen’s response with the introduction: “Speaking of looting….”

Several other critics made similar nods to current events, tweeting: “This is the looting we should be furious about” and “Oh shit. Looting has broken out in Washington.

“This is absolutely unreal,” declared author and activist Naomi Klein. “Looting with masks on.”

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Broader charges of corporate looting in relation to the CARES Act have circulated since before it was signed into law. However, in the over two weeks of protests since Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, “looting” has become “the word of the day, on the lips of every newscaster, the president, and elected officials across the country,” as progressive radio host Thom Hartmann wrote for Common Dreams on June 1.

Hartmann and others have made that case that, indeed, “looting is a major problem in America”—just not in the way that the issue has been presented by Trump and the corporate media, who have spotlighted the property destruction and the stealing of goods that has occurred alongside the demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism over past few weeks.

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“Americans know who the real looters are,” progressive radio host Benjamin Dixon told Common Dreams in late May. Referencing a recent analysis from Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies, he added: “It’s the billionaires who plundered America for $434 billion during the pandemic while the essential workers keeping our country afloat make barely over minimum wage.”


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Stephen Colbert hilariously mocks Oklahoma governor ‘Stitt for brains’ for catching COVID-19 after ignoring masks

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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) revealed Wednesday that he is positive for the coronavirus. It could have been the exposure he incurred at the Trump rally. Or it could have been all of those times he went out without a mask saying he was "social distancing." Either way, it was something "A Late Show" host Stephen Colbert found to be a hilarious example of schadenfreude.

"All the people in charge who told us the pandemic wasn't a big deal are looking big dumb right now like Oklahoma governor and chunky Dracula Kevin Stitt, cuz remember Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma full of unmasked open mouth screamers," said Colbert. "Lots of people called it a terrible idea, said it should be canceled. Not Governor Stitt."

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The problem isn’t the campaign manager — it’s Trump: Republican analyst

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Switching up the campaign manager four months before the election when the latest poll shows you 12 points down has nothing to do with the campaign's leadership, Republican analyst Amanda Carpenter explained on CNN Wednesday.

"The problem isn't that Donald Trump has a bad campaigner," said Carpenter in an interview with CNN's Don Lemon. "They're raising tons of money. They have a boatload of surrogates. The problem is that he has a bad presidency. And no one -- no one, no spin master, not Kellyanne Conway, not Brad Parscale can spin the most important number of this election, and that's -- at present, 137,000 dead and rising. And so what we need to see if Donald Trump wants to turn this around is to turn around his white house. And I have four words of advice: More Fauci, less Kayleigh."

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Here’s what you need to know about Bill Stepien — the man who just took over Trump’s fledgling campaign

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President Donald Trump announced that his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, is being shoved out of his role given the failures the campaign has suffered over the past seven months.

In his place, for now, at least, will be Bill Stepien.

If that name sounds familiar, it may be because Stepien was part of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's Bridgegate scandal, where, as punishment to Mayor Mark Sokolich, two of three toll lanes were closed during a Monday morning rush hour and weren't reopened until Friday.

The court case quoted Bill Stepien's name over 700 times, including an email in which he claimed, "It will be a tough November for this little Serbian." The mayor was born in Fort Lee, and his lineage isn't Serbian, it's actually Croatian.

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