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May 6, 2020: Lobbyists Claim Lobbying is Essential


There’s been some progress in the Republican position on public health versus the right of business owners to make a profit. They’ve progressed from denying there would be a problem, to pretending to take it seriously -- and now, to acting like nothing needs to be done while admitting they know this means people will die.

Meanwhile, business interests from Bill Gates on down to the Wisconsin Restaurant Association are taking advantage of the pandemic to push their agendas. Some, it seems, are going so far as to say lobbying itself should be considered an essential service.

And lastly, California takes Uber and Lyft to court and asks them to pay up. A new lawsuit by the state says the companies exploited hundreds of thousands of workers.


What’s a scandal in the morning becomes conventional wisdom by afternoon. Yesterday, the scandal was leaked audio from a private call with Texas Governor Rick Abbott. On the call, Abbott makes he understands that lifting business restrictions too soon will cause more people to die from coronavirus. But he did it anyway. So you can see why it scandalized people. Then along came Trump to make it seem normal. In a series of interviews and events, Trump rolled out the new signature Republican policy: You are going back to work now, and we don’t care if it kills you. Asked if people should have access to COVID-19 tests before going back to work, Trump told a reporter they should have no problem. The word should is doing a lot of work there. Separately, Vice President Mike Pence said his coronavirus task would be winding down by the end of the month. That’s it, folks: Mission accomplished! Seventy thousand deaths as of yesterday, officially, in the US. Expect another two or three thousand today. And tomorrow and the day after.

The Republicans aren’t doing this to win a popularity contest. They’re doing it to please big business. A new poll commissioned by the Washington Post found sizable majorities of Americans against the reopening of business as usual at this point in the pandemic. Roughly eighty percent of people said they’d be uncomfortable eating at a restaurant, working out in a gym, or watching a movie in a theater. Crucially, the poll found that people’s discomfort did not significantly change in states with looser restrictions compared to more strict ones. Republicans were generally more supportive of reopening businesses, but even so, sixty percent of Republicans said restaurants should not be reopened yet.

We’re talking, this morning, about a small ruling elite that wants to feed everyone else into a meat grinder. Which, again, should be conventional wisdom by this afternoon.

Lobbyists claim lobbying essential

As the pandemic drags on, many in the political world are using the crisis to press their agendas. Trump once again explicitly said the emergency aid states receive is contingent on doing what he wants with tax cuts and immigration policy. Basically, he’s enacted sanctions on Democratic states, and is asking governors to bargain over people’s lives. And he may produce the most obscene examples of it, but Trump isn’t the only one using his leverage in this situation. The National Enquirer, for instance, is asking the government for an emergency small-business loan. How could Trump say no? This is the company that was the conduit for his hush money to Stormy Daniels. But Democrats are not above exploiting the pandemic. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a partnership with Bill Gates to QUOTE re- imagine ENDQUOTE the state’s education system. The Gates Foundation made itself an enemy of teacher’s unions around the country by meddling in schools, with programs that failed even by the Foundation’s own estimation. But Cuomo seems to think the pandemic gives him a mandate to turn over kids’ minds and futures to an oligarch? Why?

Here’s how out of hand America’s corruption problem has gotten: lobbyists in Washington, DC are asking lawmakers to bail out... the lobbying industry. They say it’s in the national interest that they continue to lavish members of Congress with corporate cash to advance a narrow set of interests, all of whom are incredibly selfish. Well, that’s not exactly how they put it. This was all reported by The Intercept. The American Society of Association Executives – that is, the lobbyists’ lobby – claimed in its gimme letter that Congress already relies on lobbyists to decide how to spend money during this pandemic. Therefore, when you think about it, lobbyists are basically first responders. And that is why they make the big bucks.

California sues Uber, Lyft

California’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, filed a lawsuit yesterday against Uber and Lyft. The AG claims the two companies have exploited hundreds of thousands of workers – and violated state law -- by claiming their workers were independent contractors. City attorneys from San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego joined the state’s lawsuit, so it’s basically a signal that some California Democrats are getting serious about pushing back on the tech industry’s abuses. While the stand for worker’s rights may be long overdue, the state’s lawsuit hinges on a new law known as A-B Five. The law seeks to force companies to afford proper benefits to freelancers and contractors when they are in fact more like employees. The state’s complaint says the time has come for Uber’s and Lyft’s massive, unlawful employee mis-classification scheme to end.

The sooner the better for California: it’s full of companies like Uber and Lyft that have not been paying what they owe in to the state unemployment fund. This kind of mis-classification rips off workers, sure. It also rips off everyone who needs help from the state when they lose their job. And that’s a lot more people that it was a few weeks ago. Which means you might see more cases like this in the future. Better late than never!


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was hospitalized yesterday. According to a statement by the court, Ginsburg had nonsurgical treatment for a benign gallbladder condition at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Reportedly, she had a gallstone that caused an infection. Ginsburg, eighty-seven, plans to participate in oral arguments via teleconference today.

Many still remember Elizabeth Warren’s big moment in the Democratic presidential primary debates, when she took Mike Bloomberg apart over misogyny in the workplace. So many took note this week when the Massachusetts Senator said she thought Joe Biden’s denial of sexual assault allegations was credible and convincing. When asked, Warren did not endorse an independent investigation into the claims made by former Biden aide Tara Reade.

Horrific video emerged from Georgia of two white men in a pickup truck shooting and killing a young black man who was simply out jogging. Twenty-five-year old Ahmaud Arbery lived in Glynn County, Georgia. He played football in high school and liked to run to stay in shape. He was shot running through a suburb on February 23. Three white men thought he looked like a criminal, drove him down, and shot him. Two prosecutors recused themselves before a third in another county brought charges.

Donald Trump said yesterday he had absolutely nothing to do with an apparent bungled operation by American mercenaries in Venezuela. More details about Silvercorp, the Florida outfit with members now in Venezuelan custody, including Tweets from the company to the president bragging about the operation. Vice reported that one of the mercenaries, Airan Berry, was really into Q-Anon. And that Silvercorp did security for Trump events. It’s a curious story, that keeps getting curioser.

That’s all for the AM Quickie. Join us this afternoon on the Majority Report.

HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

WRITER - Corey Pein

PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw