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Aug 31, 2020: One Shot at Portland Protest
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Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

TODAY'S HEADLINES:

Protesters in Portland clashed with a pro-Trump truck caravan in a night of violence that left one right-wing militia member dead.

Meanwhile, The U.S. passes 6 million coronavirus cases, and California becomes the first U.S. State to hit 700,000. California’s infection rates are falling, though, but other states with smaller populations continue to spike.

And lastly, President Trump has made a big deal about his payroll tax deferrals, but new data shows that when the tax man does come knocking in 2021, workers are going to get slammed.

THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

One person was shot dead during a chaotic night of protests in Portland, Oregon on Saturday.

The circumstances around the shooting are still unclear -- it happened near a parking garage away from the main protests. The victim was wearing a hat with the logo of Patriot Prayer, a far-right militia that has squared off with Black Lives Matter protesters and other anti-fascists in Portland.

Portland Police say they’re trying to find out who was responsible for the shooting but released no information yet.

Earlier in the night, a huge convoy of Trump supporters drove into the city, largely in pickup trucks, streaming Trump 2020 and thin blue line flags. They then proceeded to antagonize Black Lives Matter protesters in the city, spraying mace and shooting them with paintballs. Far-right counter-protesters have attacked protesters in Portland repeatedly in the past weeks, brandishing or firing guns on multiple occasions.

Any of that nuance is sure to be stripped from the conversation, particularly after the politically-charged shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin last week.

President Trump has used the incident to double down on his fascist rhetoric and enable more far-right escalation, saying that quote “the people of Portland won’t put up with no safety any longer.” endquote, and criticizing Portland’s embattled mayor Ted Wheeler.

Some far-right groups have already jumped to conclusions over the shooting, saying the loss of one of their own means civil war with the left. It’s hard to say what the next week has in store, but more violence could well be on the way.

US Hits 6 Mil COVID Cases

The United States passed 6 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday, according to the New York Times.

California now rules the bleak coronavirus charts with 700,000 confirmed cases in the state. However, that number belies a slightly more positive story for the state: the infection rate is falling, and of course California’s massive population always means it’s going to have more cases than most.

Other states are still struggling, however. Louisiana has the highest number of cases per 100,000 people in the country, with over 3,100, according to the Times.

Outbreaks continue to spread, especially in schools and universities that have resumed in-person classes. But recent data shows that the rate of infections might be slowing slightly -- new daily cases have been going down since the end of July.

The next worry is how quickly -- and how safely -- we’ll be able to get a vaccine. The FDA commissioner recently said his agency might be willing to approve a vaccine before phase 3 human trials had been completed, which is obviously a risk. It’s one that could save lives if the vaccine works, but is also being pushed for heavily by the Trump administration, which is desperate to get some kind of solution on the table before the election. And as we know from Trump’s handling of the pandemic, human life matters far less than political capital.

Payroll Tax Payback Looks Grim

President Trump made a big deal about suspending payroll taxes during the height of the pandemic, meaning that workers got to skip at least one regular subtraction from their take-home wage. But instead of abolishing the tax, Trump just deferred it, and new data confirms that when we have to pay that tax back retroactively, things are going to be bleak.

The Treasury department on friday indicated that employers would be on the hook to pay back the postponed payroll taxes in 2021, meaning that they’d be taking even more out of workers’ paychecks then than they would have normally.

What Trump’s cuts are doing then is giving a short-term boost to paychecks, which will certainly be appreciated by some, at least until it’s all owed in a year. After the election, of course.

To make matters worse, guess what payroll taxes usually fund: Social Security and Medicare. So in one move, Trump is putting stress on the budgets of essential services for just a temporary relief to workers. If Trump eventually decides to cut the tax whatsoever, it will give most workers a bit of a bump in take-home pay -- but at the cost of those same essential services. Since Republicans have been looking to gut those programs for years, this seems like the perfect plan to add a whole lot more uncertainty to the mix.

AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

Rep. Steve Scalise sank to a new low on Sunday, publishing a doctored video that manipulated the words said by ALS-afflicted healthcare advocate Ady Barkhan. In the footage, Barkhan appears to ask Biden to redirect funding for police to healthcare. In reality, Barkhan, who uses a digital voicebox, didn’t say the words “for police” -- Scalise just added them in to fit his twisted narrative.

Arizona State University’s College Republicans have become one of the first formal political groups to throw their lot all-in behind Kenosha murderer Kyle Rittenhouse, holding a fundraiser for him and telling a newspaper journalist who called that they quote “do not speak to journalists with pronouns on their Twitter page,” endquote. Classy group of people, clearly.

A small number of U.S. troops doing... something??... in Syria this week were injured in a skirmish with Russian forces, allegedly after the two groups crashed their vehicles into one another. U.S. officials said there wasn’t any actual shooting, but still. Yikes.

And finally, the Director of National Intelligence’s office informed the Senate and House that it would no longer be doing in-person briefings relating to election security, limiting Congress’s ability to ask hard questions of the people running security for the November election and striking yet another blow to transparency overall. Not a great sign!

That’s all for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie today, stay tuned for the full show this afternoon.

Aug 31, 2020 - AM Quickie

HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

WRITER - Jack Crosbie

PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn