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Trump Labor Sec. Wants To Roll Back Unemployment Benefits, Paid Leave In Coronavirus Stimulus

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U.S. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia has sparked a widespread backlash over his efforts to roll back unemployment benefits and paid leave in the multi-trillion-dollar coronavirus stimulus package approved by Congress last month.

Scalia is being blasted by Democratic lawmakers and advocacy groups who accused the former corporate lawyer of favoring businesses over people in desperate need of assistance. This article first appeared on Common Dreams:

As noted by  Common Dreams: “Scalia, son of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, “has used his department’s authority over new laws enacted by Congress to limit who qualifies for joblessness assistance and to make it easier for small businesses not to pay family leave benefits,” the Washington Post reported Friday.

In a tweet late Friday, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) pointed to the unprecedented surge in jobless claims over the past month and ripped Scalia’s “despicable” management of the CARES Act, which temporarily expands relief for the unemployed.

“Because of COVID-19, more than 16 million Americans have submitted unemployment claims in the past three weeks, but Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia is using his authority to limit who qualifies for assistance,” Cohen wrote. “This is despicable. We are in the midst of a pandemic!”

While criticizing the stimulus package—which President Donald Trump signed into law late last month—as far too business-friendly overall, progressives have cautiously applauded the law’s across-the-board expansion of unemployment benefits by $600 for a period of four months.

But lawmakers have voiced alarm at the Labor Department’s lack of urgency in rolling out the benefits and, as the Post reported, Scalia issued guidance earlier this week that aims to “make it more difficult for gig workers such as Uber and Lyft drivers to get benefits.”

Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, ripped the department’s guidance in a series of tweets:

Earlier this month, as Common Dreams reported, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) slammed Scalia for quietly scaling back the already inadequate paid leave provisions in the CARES Act and creating “gratuitous loopholes” for companies to deny benefits to their employees.

“The Trump administration is twisting the law to allow employers to shirk their responsibility and is significantly narrowing which workers are eligible for paid leave,” Murray said in a statement. “This simply can’t stand. This guidance needs to be rewritten so workers get the leave they are guaranteed under the law.”

The Post reported that under the Labor Department’s newly issued rules, “businesses that deny workers paid leave don’t have to send the government any paperwork justifying why. The Labor Department’s guidance asks companies to ‘retain such records for its own files,’ a contrast with the heavy documentation required from gig workers who must prove they were affected by the coronavirus outbreak to get aid.”

Scalia has not been shy in offering his opinion on the stimulus law’s expansion of benefits.

“Unemployment is not the preferred outcome when government stay-at-home orders force temporary business shutdowns,” Scalia wrote earlier this week in a Fox Business op-ed with Jovita Carranza, the head of the Small Business Administration. “We want workers to have work, not to become dependent on the unemployment system.”

Heidi Shierholz, a labor economist with the Economic Policy Institute, called Scalia’s warning about unemployment dependency in the midst of a global pandemic “an absolute disgrace.”

As New York magazine’s Eric Levitz put it Friday, “Trump’s Labor Department has been working diligently to ensure that no U.S. worker has it too easy in the middle of a pandemic and burgeoning economic depression.”

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NEWS

‘I can’t In Good Countenance Continue To Show This’: Fox News Cut Away From Trump’s Press Sec. For Pushing Baseless Claims Of Election Fraud

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Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto on Monday cut away from a press briefing featuring Kayleigh McEnany, who is both the White House press secretary and a Trump campaign spokesperson, as she continued to push Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.

“She’s charging the other side as welcoming fraud and illegal voting. Unless she has more details to back that up, I can’t in good countenance continue to show you this,” Cavuto said as he cut off the press conference, pushing back on what he described as “explosive” charges from McEnany.

“Not so fast,” Cavuto added.

McEnany suggested, without evidence, that Democrats welcomed “fraud” and “illegal voting” in the 2020 election.

“We want every legal vote to be counted,” McEnany said, echoing President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that votes for President-elect Joe Biden were illegal.

Though multiple major news outlets, including Fox News, have declared Biden the projected winner of the 2020 election, Trump has refused to concede and is rejecting the results, claiming that he won the election.

Meanwhile, a number of world leaders have congratulated Biden on his victory, including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Even before the end of voting on November 3, the president repeatedly signaled he would claim the election was “rigged” against him if he lost, but there is no evidence to substantiate such claims.

Watch Nei Cavuto’s segment below:

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