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White House pushes ‘pure giveaway’ to rich investors while urging cut to pandemic unemployment Aid

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Recipients of the enhanced unemployment benefit could see the aid slashed by more than 50% under a plan being discussed by the Trump administration and GOP

The Trump White House is publicly advocating a massive tax cut for wealthy U.S. investors while simultaneously urging Congress to pare back the expanded unemployment benefits currently serving as a financial lifeline for more than 30 million—and counting—jobless Americans.

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“Regarding the ‘capital gains holiday,’ remember this key stat: 82% of all capital gains tax is paid by the richest 1%. A capital gains tax holiday is a pure giveaway to the rich.”
—Michael Linden, Groundwork Collaborative

In an interview on Fox Business Monday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said President Donald Trump wants included in the next Covid-19 stimulus package “a payroll tax holiday”—which critics warn is a stealth attack on Social Security—and a reduction in the capital gains tax.

A levy on profits from the sale of assets, the capital gains tax disproportionately affects the wealthy and most of the benefits of any cut would largely be enjoyed by rich investors.

Slashing the capital gains tax is a longtime goal of congressional Republicans and Trump, who last year considered but ultimately abandoned a legally dubious plan to lower the tax with an executive order.

While stressing that formal talks with Congress on the next stimulus package have not yet begun, Kudlow said the administration is also pushing for “reforms” to the $600-per-week boost in unemployment insurance (UI) payments, which he characterized as excessively generous “disincentives” to work.

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The benefits are set to expire at the end of the month without action from Congress.

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“So the White House position is that we have to cut the incomes of 30 million people who lost their jobs or who lost hours, while also giving a giant tax cut to the biggest corporations and the richest people in the world,” tweeted Michael Linden, executive director of the Groundwork Collaborative, a progressive think tank.

“Regarding the ‘capital gains holiday,’ remember this key stat: 82% of all capital gains tax is paid by the richest 1%,” Linden added. “A capital gains tax holiday is a pure giveaway to the rich.”

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The Washington Post reported Tuesday that after previously urging complete expiration of the enhanced unemployment benefits, “Trump administration officials have begun opening the door to accepting a narrower version of what Congress previously approved.”

“One potential compromise discussed by Republican lawmakers would involve cutting the unemployment benefit from $600 per week to between $200 and $400 per week and making up at least part of the difference by sending another round of $1,200 stimulus payments,” the Post reported.

Trump spokesman Judd Deere told the Post that the White House is open to approving a reduction in the current weekly UI payments but remains opposed to extending the full $600-per-week.

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“UI reform is a priority for this White House in any phase four package and we are in ongoing discussions with the Hill,” said Deere.

Julia Wolfe, state economic analyst with the Economic Policy Institute, warned in a blog post last week that if Congress fails to extend the enhanced unemployment benefits through next year, “it could cost us more than five million jobs and $500 million in personal income.”

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“We should despair for the millions who have lost their jobs and for their families,” Wolfe wrote, “and our top priority as a country should be protecting the health and safety of workers and our broader communities by paying workers to stay home when possible, whether that means working from home some or all of the time, using paid leave, or claiming UI benefits.”


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US COVID death toll projected to hit almost 300,000 by December

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An influential novel coronavirus pandemic model now projects that deaths from the disease in the United States could hit almost 300,000 by the start of December.

NPR reports that researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation say that the United States is headed toward a grim fall in which COVID-19 deaths will nearly double from their current level of 160,000 in the next four months.

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The only Texas prison reporting zero coronavirus cases is where inmates make soap. But that’s not what’s credited with protecting it.

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Of more than 100 Texas prison units, the Roach Unit's apparent ability to avoid the virus has been attributed to a remote location and a warden who strictly enforces precautionary measures.

The only Texas prison that hasn’t had any staff or inmates test positive for the new coronavirus is the same one where inmates make soap and package hand sanitizer for the state’s lockups. Prisoners aren’t allowed to use the latter.

How this one unit seemingly remains untouched by a virus that has ravaged the state’s prison system, however, has been credited not to its soap factory, but to the prison’s location and the warden’s strict enforcement of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s coronavirus policy. Meanwhile, those inside prisons with hundreds of infected inmates have long reported dangerous practices. In lawsuits and letters, they have described officers without face masks, forced intermingling between infected and healthy prisoners, and limits to soap and cleaning supplies.

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Australia arrests two for planning anti-lockdown protest

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Australian police have arrested two men accused of planning an anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne, an unusual move to stop an event that authorities said would put "lives at risk".

Police said Friday that the two men in their 40s had been detained after mobile phones and a computer were seized and both would be formally charged with inciting a criminal offence.

The pair were arrested following an investigation into a protest of hundreds of people planned for Melbourne city centre on Sunday, police told AFP.

The gathering would breach Melbourne's wide-ranging lockdown -- which entered into force Thursday, banning large gatherings and preventing residents from going outside except to work, exercise or buy essentials.

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