On today's BradCast: We start with good news for Democrats and Joe Biden before moving to the bad for Nancy Pelosi and her puzzling pick for a key oversight panel and seemingly terrible negotiation skills on emergency relief bills. [Link to full audio of today's show is posted below.]
On Wednesday, moments after we got off air yesterday, Donald Trump tossed his sorry pal Brian Kemp, Georgia's dumb-as-dirt and illegitimate Governor, under the bus, by pretending that he "disagreed strongly" with and felt it was "too soon" for Kemp's scheme to re-open nail salons, barber shops, tattoo and massage parlors and more in the Peach State as of Friday. That, even though Trump had reportedly called Kemp the day before to congratulate him on the move. At the same time, he was condescendingly tweeting about how much he cares about the old people who will be killed when Republican Governors across the country begun re-opening their states against the advice of health experts.
Trump's latest reversal is likely for good reason. One, the top health officials on his coronavirus task force pretty much insisted that he condemn Kemp's deadly decision and two, older voters --- a key part of his base --- appear to be abandoning Trump in droves thanks to his terrible response to the virus. New polling from Trump's favorite source, Fox "News", now shows Joe Biden beating Trump by 8 points in both Michigan and Pennsylvania, two states that are crucial to Trump's hopes of being re-elected. The Democratic Governors of both states, according to Fox, are very popular while Trump is decidedly not. In both states, large majorities of voters strongly support current stay-at-home restrictions, even if it continues to damage the economy.
The information in those polls amounts to the good news today for Dems. Then we turn to the mess that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems to be creating in D.C., while members are back in their districts and she is left to negotiate new relief bills, largely by herself with Mitch McConnell in the Senate.
DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of the upcoming book, Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power, joins us again today to catch us up on just some of the very important scoops he has been churning out each day in his daily, must-read "Unsanitized" report at The Prospect.
He has been causing a lot of problems for Pelosi of late, after exposing her embarrassingly poor pick for the four-person Congressional oversight board created by the CARES Act to oversee trillions of dollars of corporate bailouts and giveaways in the bill. Each of the Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate get to pick one member each for the panel. Freshman oversight bulldog Rep. Katie Porter (CA) --- who would be perfect for the job --- had made clear she was hoping to get it. Nonetheless, Pelosi selected her friend, freshman Rep. Donna Shalala (FL), who has absolutely no experience in financial oversight. Worse, much worse, as Dayen first revealed last weekend, Shalala, who previously served as Bill Clinton's Health and Human Services Secretary and CEO of The Clinton Foundation, had mountains of conflicts due to stock investments in dozens of companies whose bailout funds she was being asked to oversee.
The story gets even worse, however, as Shalala first claimed she had sold most (if not all) of those stocks, before Dayen found that, if she had, she failed to publicly report those transactions as mandated by the federal STOCK Act, as her office had previously tried to claim she had. After another day or so of this fact-pummeling by Dayen at The Prospect --- eventually picked up by the corporate media --- Shalala was forced to admit that she, in fact, failed to file those mandatory disclosures. She apologized, claiming she had failed to understand the requirements of the Act, despite it being incredibly simple --- unlike the task of overseeing trillions of dollars in loans and grants by the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, as required by the oversight panel on which she is now seated.
"How is Donna Shalala going to be in a hearing with the Federal Reserve, asking them about the rules and procedures of the corporate bailout, when she couldn't follow the most simple, basic step required of her as a member of Congress?," Dayen wonders.
Not a promising sign, even as Dayen reports that Shalala continues to have large holdings in a health care company that would also be subject to oversight by her panel. "The one stock she did not sell was in United Health, the health insurance company that she was on the board of for several years. She still holds that now. So she is a walking conflict of interest even in her normal duties in Congress," he tells me.
Nonetheless, nearly a week into Dayen's coverage, after a belated apology from Shalala for her violations of federal law, Pelosi continues to stand by her poor selection. Why? Well, Dayen discusses that and much more on today's show (including the much better selection of former Elizabeth Warren protege, Bharat Ramamurti, by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for the same panel.)
We also discuss what is --- and, more disturbingly, is NOT! --- in the nearly $500 billion bailout bill passed by the House on Thursday, after largely being crafted by Mitch McConnell in the Senate as Dems continue to give away pretty much all of the leverage they may have had for a list of things Dayen argues they should have fought for, including: "State and local government funding...Payroll support along the lines of just having the government operate these payrolls rather than having people laid off...Money for the Postal Service, which is about to go under...Health insurance expansion for the duration of the crisis...Rent relief...foreclosure relief...Nor did they guarantee Vote-By-Mail for every American during the November election."
It's a very lively and troubling conversation, with lots of stuff --- maddening, amusing and informative --- including why Congress has failed to adopt some way of remote voting so that they can somehow continue to carry on the people's business, even during the need for physical distancing.
Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with some good news (believe or not) and bad in the age of the coronavirus...as well as some swingin' music to take us out for the day!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)