Donald Trump is forced to admit that the coronavirus death toll will be higher than he first predicted, while new reports show his administration was just waiting for a pandemic to enact fascist policies.
Meanwhile, after a horrific mass shooting, Canada acts swiftly to ban semi-automatic firearms and other assault weapons.
And lastly, the Senate will reconvene today, but will they get anything done? Here’s what to look for out of Congress this week.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Donald Trump predicted on Sunday night that the U.S. death toll of the novel coronavirus would reach 100,000, finally acknowledging that the pandemic is far more devastating than he thought.
While it’s nice that the President now appears to inhabit a similar reality to the country he leads Trump’s now-accurate predictions do absolutely zilch to help the millions of people affected by the virus thus far.
Trump changed his predictions during a Fox News town hall on Sunday night, while still claiming credit for responding to the diseases when he did. Meanwhile, a New York Times report shows that his Administration was just waiting for something like this to happen: not so they could respond swiftly, but so they could make things a little bit more fascist toward immigrants.
The Times reports that Stephen Miller, perhaps the most comically racist of Trump’s stacked lineup of racists, had been looking for a way to use public health powers to shut down immigration for years. Miller’s idea was essentially to find any way to seal the borders for public health reasons -- he tried it twice in 2019 but was talked down by other officials.
With the coronavirus, it seems like Miller’s wish came true.
Canada Bans Assault Weapons
Canada moved swiftly to ban assault weapons across the country this weekend, responding to the horrific Nova Scotia mass shooting with swift legislative action.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a blanket ban on the the sale, transport, and use of about 1,500 different kinds of “assault style” semi-automatic weapons, effective immediately. Canadians who already own such weapons have two years to dispose of them, and Trudeau said his government is working with the legislature to figure out a way to compensate them for the loss of property.
The Nova Scotia shooting on April 18 and 19 was one of the deadliest mass-murders in Canada’s history. The shooter, who was armed with multiple weapons he purchased in both the U.S. and Canada, shot and killed 13 people, and killed 9 more in fires he set as the rampage continued. He was not licensed to own a gun in Canada, yet still obtained many, at least one of which came from a U.S. source, according to Canadian authorities.
The ban isn’t perfect: trying to draw distinctions between what is and is not an assault weapon is often a nearly impossible task, and one that would surely meet widespread resistance in the U.S. But it also shows what’s possible with quick, unilateral executive action.
Senate Reconvenes, But Will They Help?
The Senate is going back to work today, largely because Mitch McConnell has an interest in making Trump look good by getting one House of Congress back to work. It remains to be seen if any of that work will help American people, but here’s what we’re looking for.
Progressives are currently calling for the next coronavirus relief bill to finally address the needs of working people, largely by stopping mass layoffs, direct financial relief and expansion of financial relief programs like food aid, health coverage for frontline workers, and national vote-by-mail for the November elections.
While those goals are a long shot with McConnell in charge, this is the best time for Democrats in both the Senate and House to start pushing back in a more meaningful way against whatever bogus bill the Republicans put forward next.
Things will move slowly, of course. Nancy Pelosi says the House won’t return to D.C. until May 11.
When it does, however, there’s some good bills: Rep. Pramila Jayapaul, for one, announced legislation that would expand Medicare and Medicaid to millions of Americans during the crisis and force private companies to pay for patients stricken with the disease.
It’s not quite full single-payer, but it’s a good start -- now we wait to see if the Democrats decide find the courage to support it.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
On top of everything else the U.S. is dealing with at the moment, we now have murder hornets, an invasive predator from Asia that wreaks havoc on already-fragile honeybee hives, by decapitating the little pollinators with their gigantic jaws. Did we mention they can grow up to two inches long and have a sting that kills up to 50 people a year in Japan?
Betsy DeVos, determined to make the most of her potential for evil as Secretary of Education, has decided to garnish the wages of nearly 300,000 people who have student loans, in the middle of the pandemic.
In other news that should surprise no one, the notoriously dumb anti-vaccine movement has started to glom on to the equally stupid anti-social-distancing protest movement. The New York Times reports that prominent anti-vaxx organizations have been spotted at protests in at least three states.
And finally, on Friday, Trump announced his intentions to replace HHS Inspector General Christi A. Grimm. This may sound like small-fry personnel changes inside the Administration, if Grimm weren’t the one who blew the whistle on the dire shortage of protective equipment and virus tests in U.S. hospitals just a month earlier. To use a golf metaphor Trump would surely understand: cheap retaliation is par for the course at this point.
That’s all for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie today. Check out the full show this afternoon, wherever you get your podcasts.
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn