Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders send a bold letter to the White House on Sunday urging a major expansion to the country’s Medicare system as part of the President’s investment and tax reform plan. But will Joe Biden listen?
Meanwhile, India’s COVID outbreak is spiraling out of control, but its hard-right government is more concerned with bullying big tech into taking down criticism on social media than actually helping.
And lastly, a new report shows that CEO’s paychecks are skyrocketing, even as their companies suffer from the pandemic’s economic downturn.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and a cadre of 14 other Democratic Senators sent a letter on Sunday urging Joe Biden to sign off on a massive expansion of Medicare benefits.
The letter asks for several specific things, including lowering the eligibility age for Medicare, expanding benefits to include vision, dental, and hearing, a cap on out-of-pocket expenses, and lower drug prices. The senators want these chances included in Biden’s American Families Plan, an estimated $1.8 trillion tax and spending package that Biden is expected to showcase during his first address to Congress on Wednesday.
There’s just one problem: Biden hasn’t committed to any of those things yet. Instead, the Washington Post reported that Biden wants to add a $200 billion expansion to the Affordable Care Act’s subsidy program, which helps people pay for private health insurance, but will not touch Medicare.
When it comes down to it, both a limited expansion to Medicare and more ACA subsidies are woefully inadequate, with the latter plan particularly weak.
It also appears like Biden is fully backing away from any kind of true public option for health insurance, instead offering up crumbs and stopgap measures. We’ll see what he has to say on Wednesday, but we’re not hoping for much.
India Censors Covid Critics
The coronavirus epidemic has spiraled to devastating heights in India. Oxygen supplies are dwindling across the country, and on Sunday alone, it recorded almost 350,000 new infections.
And experts think even those staggering numbers are underselling things. Hospitals in New Delhi are out of oxygen and beds and mass cremations are occurring across the country.
Part of the recent surge is due to India’s hard-right government, which under Narendra Modi loosened and sometimes flat out disregarded social distancing restrictions, especially at the President's large, Trump-like rallies across the country.
Modi is now trying to get the outbreak under control and promising to, “give priority to experts and scientific advice.” But he’s also cracking down on any dissent and criticism as much as possible.
According to the New York Times, Modhi has successfully petitioned several American social media platforms to delete or take down post critical of him or blaming him for the disastrous spike in cases. Modhi has often threatened to arrest local employees of tech giants like Twitter and Facebook if they refuse to take down the offending posts, which has worked on several occasions.
But all of this reflects a disturbing brand of authoritarianism from India’s government. As one professor at the University of Delhi put it:
“It’s easier to take down tweets than it is to ensure oxygen supplies.”
CEOs Reap Pandemic Payouts
To close us out today we’ve got a very simple story of American capitalism. As the pandemic ravaged businesses large and small alike, the biggest companies managed to keep one thing intact: absurdly large salaries for CEOs.
Let’s just run some quick figures by you as reported in the New York Times. You won’t need a calculator or anything, these are pretty clear. Boeing: 30,000 workers laid off, $12 billion in losses. It’s CEO David Calhoun? 21.1 million in compensation.
Let’s do Hilton. Nearly a quarter of its corporate employees laid off, $720 million in losses. CEO Chris Nassetta made $55.9 million in compensation.
There are dozens more companies like this, where CEOs reaped the benefits of laying off their own employees directly. Others, like former T Mobile CEO John Legere [LEGER] raked in over millions after swallowing competitors whole or presiding over monopolistic mergers. And this
doesn’t even touch on the tech billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk who rode the waves of fluctuating stock prices to add hundreds of billions to their net worth.
It all adds up to the same thing: the rich are getting richer right in front of our eyes. And they’ve gotten so bloated and arrogant now that they don’t care who sees it.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
Joe Biden broke decades of official silence on Sunday and officially recognized the Armenian Genocide, a brutal campaign of repression during the first world war that killed an estimated 1.5 million Armenians, but has gone overlooked by many world governments for political reasons, namely the vocal opposition of NATO ally Turkey.
The Democratic establishment pulled off another victory in Louisiana over the weekend, as centrist-favored, pro-oil candidate Troy Carter beat Green New Deal supporter Karen Peterson, partially by riding a wave of Republican money, to secure a vacant Democratic house seat.
The top American commander in Afghanistan said on Sunday that the U.S. has officially begun its withdrawal from the country, transitioning bases and resources to the Afghan military. This won’t stop the U.S. from bombing whoever it wants, whenever it wants, of course, but it’s a nominal step toward the end of one chapter of the forever war.
The European Union announced that it will let U.S. tourists who are vaccinated visit this summer, after more than a year of widespread travel restrictions, but did not give a definite timeline as to what documentation would be required or when specifically the restrictions would lift.
APRIL 26, 2021 - AM QUICKIE
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn