The feds have brought an antitrust case against Google. It’s one thing Democrats and Republicans can agree is long overdue.
Meanwhile, health insurance scammers have blitzed the internet with ads for bogus Trumpcare plans. Google – surprise, surprise – is among those profiting.
And lastly, Donald Trump’s campaign has wasted a boatload of money, according to a review of expenditures. But at least they got Don Junior’s stupid book onto the bestseller list.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Antitrust: Feds sue Google
The Justice Department sued Google yesterday, saying the company has an illegal and abusive monopoly over internet search technology. It is the first antitrust case against Google to result from yearslong investigations into the company’s conduct by the DOJ, Congress, and the states. Eleven state attorneys general, all Republicans, joined the suit. Attorney General Bill Barr reportedly wanted to bring the case before the November election to please Donald Trump, who has vowed to take on Big Tech.
According to the New York Times, the government says Google is illegally protecting its dominant position in the market for search with the deals it has struck with companies like Apple. For example, Google pays Apple billions of dollars a year to have its search engine set as the default option on iPhones. To prevail, the Justice Department has to show two things: that Google is dominant in search, and that its deals with Apple and other companies hobble competition. Although those seem like easy things to prove, the case is likely to take years.
Democrats have also sought to counter Google’s monopoly market power. Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline, the chairman of the top competition-focused panel in the House of Representatives, told the Washington Post QUOTE antitrust enforcement against Google is long overdue ENDQUOTE. The Post reports that a handful of states including Colorado,
Iowa, Nebraska and New York issued a joint public statement yesterday indicating they are still scrutinizing a wide array of Google’s business practices and may opt to join any federal case later. The more the merrier!
Trumpcare scammers fleece consumers
There’s no such thing as Trumpcare. But an investigation by ProPublica reveals that thousands of Americans are getting scammed by online marketers selling junk health insurance plans using that name.
Facebook and Google have run tens of thousands of ads in the past year containing false claims about health insurance reform and plans. The ads have been viewed some twenty two million times in that time, mostly in battleground states like Texas, Florida, and Ohio. Google even gave the misinformation prime real estate, with the ads as the top-listed results when people search for affordable health insurance.
When people respond to the ads, they become sales leads. Then they get deluged with phone calls from brokers. The Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, requires most health insurance plans to provide minimal essential coverage, which includes preventive care, mental health care, maternity and more. The unconventional plans sold as Trumpcare are exempted from those requirements, but their weaknesses aren’t made clear to consumers. Far from it. Agents on commission often lie, saying Trumpcare is the new Obamacare.
State regulators who spoke to ProPublica say catching scam brokers is like playing whack-a- mole, as those caught using abusive marketing tactics can simply incorporate under a new name and start all over again. Frank Pyle, director of market conduct enforcement for the Delaware Department of Insurance, told ProPublica that harsher penalties might put an end to the scams. Pyle said QUOTE You can fine these companies and they consider it the cost of doing business. But if you lock up their CEO in federal prison, they’ll think twice about harming our consumers. ENDQUOTE. A single-payer system would also solve the problem.
Trump campaign bleeding cash
A new review of Donald Trump’s election expenditures shows that by overspending in the early stages of the race, the campaign has weakened its position in the final stretch. The campaign has raised well over $1 billion since Trump took the White House in 2017 — and, as the Associated Press put it, set a lot of that money on fire.
Among the examples of Trumpian profligacy flagged by the news agency: Trump bought a $10 million Super Bowl ad when he didn’t yet have a challenger. He tapped his political organization to cover exorbitant legal fees related to his impeachment. Aides made flashy displays of their newfound wealth — including a fleet of luxury vehicles purchased by Brad Parscale, his former campaign manager.
Mike Murphy, a veteran Republican consultant, said the campaign spent its money on lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous activity by the campaign staff, and vanity ads that ran way too early. He added QUOTE You could literally have ten monkeys with flamethrowers go after the money, and they wouldn’t have burned through it as stupidly ENDQUOTE.
Other moronic expenditures by Trump and the RNC include:
— Nearly $100,000 spent on copies of Donald Trump Junior’s book “Triggered.”
— Over $7.4 million spent at Trump-branded properties.
— At least $35.2 million spent on Trump merchandise.
— At least $14.1 million spent on the Republican National Convention, which was mostly online.
— $1.6 million on TV ads in the Washington, DC, media market, an overwhelmingly Democratic area that Trump can’t win. But, of course, it’s where Trump himself watches the tube. Hey, whatever keeps the boss happy...
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
Politico reports that Joe Biden’s transition team is vetting a handful of Republicans for potential Cabinet positions. The names being floated include former Ohio Governor John Kasich, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, and Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay and now CEO of Quibi. It’s not great news for progressives, but maybe the vetting process will sort out once and for all the question: What on earth is Quibi?
A Miami police officer was photographed at a voting site wearing a “Trump 2020” mask yesterday. Steve Simeonidis, the chairman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, took the photo of Miami police department officer Daniel Ubeda and posted it online, calling it QUOTE city funded voter intimidation ENDQUOTE. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that Ubeda’s superiors were quick to call the political display unacceptable and a violation of department policy. Of course, they declined to say exactly how he’d be disciplined.
Death from drug overdoses are up and may reach an all-time high this year, the AP reports. Addiction experts blame the pandemic, which has left people stressed and isolated, disrupted treatment and recovery programs, and contributed to an increasingly dangerous illicit drug supply. Please remember, friends, we’re all in this together.
Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, is under a twenty four-hour curfew after large crowds attacked two prisons and freed some two thousand inmates. Protests began two weeks ago after a video circulated showing a man being beaten by police. The AP reports that protesters are demanding an end to abuses and respect for human rights in all parts of the police force. Is it really too much to ask? Apparently so.
OCT 21, 2020 - AM QUICKIE
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Corey Pein
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn