Democracy & Government

In Other News: Mnuchin Refuses To Say Where $500 Billion in Taxpayer Money Went 

In Other News: Mnuchin Refuses To Say Where $500 Billion in Taxpayer Money Went 

Treasury Secretary-designate Steve Mnuchin waits to begin a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, DC, on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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Coronavirus Below The Fold

The United States marked another grim milestone this week, more than 2 million cases of coronavirus have now been diagnosed in the United States and infection rates are rising in 21 states. However, states are continuing to re-open and governors on both sides of the aisle are rejecting plans to shut down again should infection rates spike. Those stay-at-home orders implemented in March prevented 60 million coronavirus infections across the county according to a new study from UC Berkeley.  Meanwhile Axios reports:

Some large health insurers are only willing to cover coronavirus testing under certain circumstances — potentially undermining a key part of the U.S.’ coronavirus response…They’re only extending that benefit to tests that are deemed ‘medically necessary’ and which have been ordered by a doctor, and in some cases they explicitly exclude the types of regular surveillance testing that experts say is so important.

While nationwide protests will almost certainly spread the virus, many public health experts support the protests. “Racism is a public health crisis,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, professor of medicine and an infectious diseases specialist at UC San Francisco told the LA Times. “We wanted to support people’s voices in this national time of sadness and tragedy.” 

Historic Change 

According to The New York Times,

in the last two weeks, American voters’ support for the Black Lives Matter movement increased almost as much as it had in the preceding two years…By a 28-point margin, Civiqs finds that a majority of American voters support the movement, up from a 17-point margin before the most recent wave of protests began.

That shift is best reflected in the number of marches held in small towns across America. 

Qualified Immunity

The Supreme Court may agree to hear cases examining qualified immunity “a modern-day legal doctrine created by judges that has shielded police and other government officials from lawsuits over their conduct.” NPR reports:

There are currently eight qualified immunity cases now pending before the Supreme Court. The facts of the cases are varied. They range from the shooting of a 10-year-old boy when police pursued an unarmed suspect into a yard where children were playing, to the apparently needless destruction of a house with tear gas grenades when police were given the house keys to look for a suspect after the homeowner had told police the suspect was not there, to other cases involving deaths and profound injuries stemming from police misconduct. 

Code Red 

Dozens of hospitals who received billions in federal bailout funds are laying off or cutting wages of thousands of health care workers while still managing to pay their CEOs millions:

The New York Times analyzed tax and securities filings by 60 of the country’s largest hospital chains, which have received a total of more than $15 billion in emergency funds through the economic stimulus package in the federal CARES Act…At least 36 of those hospital chains have laid off, furloughed or reduced the pay of employees as they try to save money during the pandemic…Many have continued to pay their top executives millions, although some executives have taken modest pay cuts.

Eye On The Bailout 

The Trump administration is signaling it will refuse to disclose the recipients of more than $500 billion in bailout funds sent to 4.5 million businesses as part of the Paycheck Protection Program passed by Congress in March. Politico reports Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin “says it’s ‘proprietary’ and ‘confidential’ information. The GAO told POLITICO that the Small Business Administration is also withholding PPP loan data the agency requested as part of its oversight efforts.” Meanwhile, The American Prospect points out there is still no chair for the Congressional Oversight Commission tasked with overseeing the funds allocated in the CARES Act. So far the commission has published one report and failed to hold a single hearing. 

War Games 

The Pentagon is prepared for a domestic rebellion led by Generation Z (people born after 1996.) Documents obtained by The Intercept show

a Pentagon war game, called the 2018 Joint Land, Air and Sea Strategic Special Program, or JLASS, offered a scenario in which members of Generation Z, driven by malaise and discontent, launch a ‘Zbellion’ in America in the mid-2020s…According to the scenario, many members of Gen Z — psychologically scarred in their youth by 9/11 and the Great Recession, crushed by college debt, and disenchanted with their employment options — have given up on their hopes for a good life and believe the system is rigged against them…While it is explicitly not a national intelligence estimate, the war game, which covers the future through early 2028, is “intended to reflect a plausible depiction of major trends and influences in the world regions,” according to the more than 200 pages of documents.

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