👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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1/ A record 4 million people in the U.S. received a coronavirus vaccine on Saturday. Over the past seven days, an average of 3.1 million shots have been administered each day and about 1 in 4 adults are now fully vaccinated, Andy Slavitt said, the White House’s senior adviser for Covid-19 response. While the daily coronavirus death toll in the U.S. is at its lowest level in months, the seven-day average of new daily cases rose 7% to 64,000, according to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. In Michigan, daily new cases are up 39% compared with a week ago. Experts, however, disagree on whether the U.S. is on the cusp of a “fourth wave” or seeing the last gasps of the 14-month pandemic. Michael Osterholm, an adviser to Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, predicted that the next two weeks would bring “the highest number of cases reported globally since the beginning of the pandemic.” Osterholm called Michigan’s 8,400 new cases a “wake-up call to everyone.” Meanwhile, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the FDA under Trump, said he did not foresee a fourth wave, saying “I think with the rate of vaccination that we’re having right now […] I think that there’s enough immunity in the population that you’re not going to see a true fourth wave of infection.” (Washington Post / CNBC / New York Times / CNN / Axios)
😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~131,594,000; deaths: ~2,857,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,756,000; deaths: ~556,000; fully vaccinated: ~18.8%; partially vaccinated: ~32.4%
2/ Nearly 200 companies signed a joint statement against proposals that threaten to restrict voting access in dozens of states. “We call on elected leaders in every state capitol and in Congress to work across the aisle and ensure that every eligible American has the freedom to easily cast their ballot and participate fully in our democracy,” the statement said. In Texas, there are currently 49 restrictive bills that have been introduced in the state legislature. Senate Bill 7 would ban overnight early voting and drive-through early voting. The state House is also considering its own voting bill, House Bill 6, which would prohibit election officials from sending absentee ballot applications to voters without their requests. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, warned corporations of “serious consequences” if they use their economic power to act like “a woke parallel government.” McConnell called corporate opposition to restrictive new voting laws the “Outrage-Industrial Complex.” Since 2015, corporations have donated more than $50 million to state lawmakers to state legislators supporting voter suppression bills, including $22 million during the 2020 election. (Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg / Associated Press)
- Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp complained about Major League Baseball’s decision to pull the All-Star Game out of the state over new voting restrictions Georgia’s Legislature recently approved. Kemp argued that the move would economically hurt the state. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, meanwhile, turned down an invitation to throw the first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opener, citing MLB’s decision to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta. (New York Times / Politico)
3/ Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called for a global minimum corporate tax rate, saying she wants to halt an international “race to the bottom” by countries competing to lure corporations with lower taxes. As part of the Biden administration’s $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs proposal, the U.S. would raise the domestic corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%, raise the international minimum rate for foreign income from U.S. companies to 21% from 10.5%, and make it harder for foreign-owned companies with U.S. operations to benefit from shifting profits to low-tax countries. Trump lowered the U.S. tax rate from 35% to 21%, arguing that U.S. companies were incentivized to relocate offshore. Yellen criticized Trump’s unilateralist strategy, saying the U.S. “isolated ourselves and retreated from the international order that we created.” (Axios / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNN)
4/ The Trump campaign refunded 10.7% of the money it raised online in 2020 – $122 million. Donors complained of fraud to banks and credit card companies after the Trump operation had used multiple prechecked boxes to enroll them into recurring contributions. In total, the Trump and party operation raised $1.2 billion. (New York Times)
5/ The Supreme Court vacated an appeals court ruling that Trump could not block critics from his Twitter feed. In 2019, a lower court ruled that Trump’s account was a public forum because he had used it to regularly communicate with the public and that he could not exclude people based on their viewpoints. Both sides in the suit agreed that the case is moot since Trump is no longer president and has been banned from Twitter. In a 12-page concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the court will need to examine the power of tech companies, calling it is “unprecedented” to have “control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties.” (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / USA Today / CBS News)
6/ Arkansas’ Republican governor vetoed an anti-transgender health care bill that would make it illegal for transgender minors to receive gender-affirming “procedures.” Gov. Asa Hutchinson called the legislation “a product of the cultural war in America,” even though he believed the bill was “well-intended.” The Arkansas State Legislature could still override Hutchinson’s veto of the bill. (New York Times / CNN)
poll/ 40% of Americans disapprove of the Biden administration’s handling of the unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, while 24% approve, and 35% have no opinion. (Associated Press)
poll/ 55% of Republicans believe the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was led by left-wing activists “trying to make Trump look bad.” 51% of Republicans also believe that the riot was “mostly peaceful, law-abiding Americans.” And, 55% of Republicans believe Trump’s 2020 election loss was the result of illegal voting or election rigging. (Reuters)
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