Tag: eugene scalia

Background Briefing: April 12, 2020


With American Workers in Desperate Need, the Ideologue in Charge of the Labor Department Creates a Bottleneck for Benefits

We begin with the most important decision of Trump’s presidency which the president, in typical Reality TV style, announced on Friday he would be making over the weekend, wrestling over whether to open up the economy and risk fueling the coronavirus crisis. As we await the will-he-or-won’t-he decision expected on Monday, this manufactured drama is hardly a cliffhanger since it’s a phony choice because nobody in their right mind would risk worsening a pandemic just as it is about to reach its deadliest climax. But that does not mean Trump will not act with reckless ignorance bowing to pressure from the hysterical right and the loony libertarian fringe who are terrified that the government might have to step in and solve a problem the private sector cannot fix no matter how much public money is thrown at them. A prime example of the failure of right wing free enterprise dogma is what is happening at the Labor Department where Trump put the fox, Eugene Scalia, in charge of the hen house. With unemployment records already broken as the numbers only begin to skyrocket, the billions appropriated for unemployment insurance relief in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act are bottlenecked at the agency supposed to help the American worker, the head of which is implacably opposed to workers and unions and has spent his whole professional life finding ways to screw workers and undo their benefits. Steven Greenhouse, a veteran New York Times reporter who covered labor and the workplace for 19 years and is the author of the new book Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor joins us to discuss how the corporate ideologue Scalia, who recently said “We want workers to work, not to become dependent on the unemployment system”, is making it impossible for unemployment benefits to reach those in increasingly desperate need.  Scalia has chosen the narrowest possible definition of who qualifies while inside the Labor Department’s workplace health and safety division, OSHA, frustration builds at the lack of action to help frontline workers like nurses and doctors who desperately need help and protection. Meanwhile even a right wing senator such as Trump’s most ardent defender Senator Lindsey Graham is warning “You could have massive civil unrest if these systems cannot get checks out the door. We’re talking about 20% unemployment, maybe even more. The application process is a nightmare.”


 While Labor is Short-Changed, Wall Street is Rewarded

Then, as labor which is being hit the hardest is being short-changed, we get an analysis of how corporate America and Wall Street is being rewarded with stimulus money, some of which is going to the most undeserving private equity hedge fund managers who are rolling in dough. Aaron Glantz, a journalist and Senior Reporter at Reveal News whose new book is Homewreckers: How a Gang of Wall Street Kingpins, Hedge Fund Managers, Crooked Banks, and Vulture Capitalists Suckered Millions Out of Their Homes and Demolished the American Dream, joins us to discuss his latest article “‘I’ll be the oversight’, Trump says as his political appointees protect Wall Street and real estate”. We discuss the unprecedented giveaways to corporate America overseen by the poster boy for homewreckers, Steve Mnuchin, particularly to real estate investors like Trump and Jared Kushner.

Our Reality TV President Creates His Own Reality

Then finally we discuss how to find ways for the media to get around Trump’s daily White House briefings to air the substance coming from Dr. Fauci while avoiding the nonsense coming from our Reality TV President who on Friday, offered the most insane unscientific advice; “Staying at home leads to death also. And it’s very traumatic for this country. Staying at home, if you look at the numbers, that leads to a different kind of death, perhaps, but it leads to death also.” James Poniewozik, the chief television critic of the New York Times whose latest book is Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America, joins us to discuss his latest article “President Trump’s Prime-Time Pandemic: The coronavirus briefings have given Donald Trump a regularly scheduled reality show again – or, rather, a create-your-own-reality show”.