Day: March 23, 2020

Background Briefing: March 23, 2020


Trump’s $500 Billion “Slush Fund” Slows Down Senate Stimulus Bill

We begin with the contentious battle in the U.S. Senate over passing a stimulus bill with the Democrats blocking passage because of a half a trillion ($500 billion) “slush fund” over which Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and President Trump have discretion as to how that money is spent. With Trump unwilling to say whether the money would help his businesses and Mnuchin in the thrall of his mentor the financial felon Michael Milken, there is good reason to be concerned that crony corporate favors will swamp any attempt to take care of workers and small businesses. Matt Stoller, the Director of Research at the American Economic Liberties Project who was previously a Senior Policy Advisor and Budget Analyst to the Senate Budget Committee whose latest book is Goliath: The Hundred Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy, joins us to discuss his article at The Guardian “The coronavirus relief bill could turn into a corporate coup if we’re not careful”. We assess whether the extra leverage Democrats have in the senate because some Republican senators are in isolation due to the virus will result in some of the money going to where it is needed most. For example hospitals at ground zero for the crisis make their money from elective surgeries and have to pay for the much-needed supplies to combat the virus, PPE, surgical masks and ventilators which Trump keeps promising but nurses and doctors have yet to see. But with Boeing asking for $60 billion, hotels wanting $150 billion, manufacturers $1.4 trillion, shopping centers up to $1 trillion, the beer industry $5 billion and the candy industry $500 million, it seems that workers and small businesses are at the back of the queue. Meanwhile as Democrats try to get money to people and small businesses who need it most, Senate Republican are warning them that they are playing with fire by slowing down the response to the crisis.


The Dire Plight of Small Businesses as Big Corporations Get Bailed Out

Then we examine the plight of small business in America which is a large part of our economy but is in free-fall as Main Streets closes down and workers are laid off. Stacy Mitchell, the co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and the author of Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America’s Independent Businesses joins us to discuss bills by Republican and Democratic senators designed to rescue this vital part of our economy which is being hit first and hard while the big corporations with the lobbying power are getting taken care of even though their need is not as dire.

Trump Uses the Bully Pulpit While the Democrats Go Silent

Then finally we speak with Dr. Allen Frances, Professor Emeritus and former Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University whose latest book is Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump. We try to understand why Trump’s erratic and fact-free daily press briefings are playing so well in Red State America where Trump is more popular than ever and why the Democrats are AWOL at this critical time without a plan, a message or an alternative narrative to the lies coming from the incompetent bungler who has endangered us all.