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President Trump disbands his business councils with one tweet

(POLITICS) President Trump has disbanded the councils that he previously very adamantly supported, so what happened?

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We interrupt this regularly scheduled program

Huge news on the domestic policy front – per a Twitter announcement, President Trump’s two business advisory councils – the Strategic and Policy Forum and the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative – have been disbanded.

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The sequence of events has been fast and difficult to follow, but here’s how things went down.

See ya later

On Monday, Kenneth C. Frazier, the CEO of pharmaceutical giant Merck, resigned from the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative in protest at President Trump’s comments on the recent violence in Charlottesville. By the evening of the same day, Brian Krzanich of Intel and Kevin Planck of Under Armour had done the same. They were quickly followed by Thea Lee and Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO, Scott Paul of the Alliance of American Manufacturing, Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup and Inge Thulin of 3M.

This morning, in response to the sudden exodus, Stephen Schwartzman, chief executive of the Blackstone Group and longtime Trump business and political ally, led a conference call of the remaining council members this morning to debate how to proceed.

By the end, all members had resigned.

In short, President Trump is not disbanding his advisory councils in the sense of (no “The Apprentice” jokes, please) firing their members. The members already quit. The President’s Tweet simply announced that had taken place, and that, as it states he “disbanded” the now-vacant groups, there are presumably no plans in the near future to replace them.

Bold move

This is a surprising move from the President. Historically the role of business advisory councils has been to keep an open communication pipeline between the President and the American business community, something this president has consistently identified as a priority. President Trump has always positioned himself as passionately pro-business, particularly concerned with global competitiveness and the loss of jobs and revenue in American manufacturing.

The Strategic and Policy Forum and the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative were founded specifically to address those issues.

The business community in particular had expected the President to draw heavily on their advice.

On the other hand, that advice has repeatedly conflicted with the President’s other policies. Well before Charlottesville, the Strategic and Policy Forum had seen high-profile resignations: Bob Iger of Disney and Elon Musk of Tesla (who served on, and resigned from, both the SPF and the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative) resigned over the President’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, and ex-CEO of Uber Travis Kalanick departed over restrictions on immigration from the Middle East.

New directions

President Trump’s elimination of his business advisory councils clearly indicates a new direction in the relationship between the White House and the American business community.

What that direction will be, and what consequences it will have for the economy, remain to be seen.

#ByeByeBusiness

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

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Politics

The White House pushes for $450 per week return to work bonus

(POLITICS) The Trump administration wants people off the unemployment $600 per week, and they want people getting back to work with a $450 per week bonus.

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In an update to our previous story on the next piece of proposed stimulus legislation, the White House is looking at options for a return-to-work bonus, making clear their preference for incentivizing reopening the economy rather than extending unemployment benefits for the time being.

CNBC reports that the Trump administration has, according to Larry Kudlow, voiced their disapproval of the proposed extension of the extra $600 per week for families on unemployment, opting instead for a smaller temporary weekly sum for people returning to work.

To recap, the current bonus of $600 per week for those on unemployment is scheduled to expire after July 31st, but the HEROES Act from House Democrats proposed extending it through the end of the year; the notion attracted criticism for several reasons, the most notable of which included waning unemployment numbers and some viewing the idea as an incentive to continue collecting unemployment rather than actually stimulating the economy.

An ancillary proposition to decrease the amount of extra aid per week incrementally as unemployment numbers fall was mentioned, but the Trump administration appears to stand firm on their counterproposal involving the aforementioned return-to-work bonus.

It’s not unreasonable for this administration to want to incentivize those who are reluctant to return to work, especially when unemployment numbers in the last few months have been the highest since the Great Depression; in any event, it seems that, whether or not the HEROES Act passes, folks on unemployment will most likely stop receiving that extra $600 per week at the end of this July.

We recognize that a little over a month isn’t a supremely generous amount of time with which to prepare for a sharp cut in income, and there are only a few things you can actively do to ensure that you’re adequately prepared for the proposed incentive.

Firstly, if you’re furloughed for now, there isn’t much you can do other than wait for your place of occupation to open; however, if you were laid off, actively seeking a job opening in your field–or any field, at this point–will be enough for you to qualify for the bonus.

More importantly, however, is that you start looking at how the lack of funding will impact you in the short-term. Remember, 63 percent of Americans on unemployment were actually making more money with the bonus $600 per week than they were while working, so while the impact of losing that bonus come August won’t be negligible, hopefully unemployment is enough to cover the necessities.

Unfortunately, aside from “go back to work”, there isn’t a whole lot to do besides hurry up and wait. We’ll know more about this round of proposed stimulus activity in the coming weeks.

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Politics

Why DID Gorsuch uphold Title VII for the LGBTQ+ community?

(POLITICS) Conservative SCOTUS justices rely on textualism to hand down landmark ruling in favor of LGBTQ rights in Bostock v. Clayton County

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I have to admit that my liberal proclivities were offended when Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the Supreme Court. But the notoriously conservative Justice has followed his professional training to hand down a clear, concise, and logical landmark decision this week in Bostock v. Clayton County. The 6-3 ruling is a major win for the LGBTQIA++ community. Gorsuch is an unexpected champion of the landmark case as the author or the majority opinion.

The case concerned instances of employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and sex identity. In Bostock v. Clayton County, Gerald Bostock asserted he was fired for expressing interest in a gay softball league. The case called into question whether sexual orientation was a protected classification under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Eleventh Circuit – which hears cases for districts in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida – had relied on a precedent that sexual orientation is not protected by Title VII. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee, “because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

Gorsuch’s opinion relies on “textualism,” which is the interpretation of the law based strictly on the written language of a law. This approach to the justice system does not consider the original intentions of the law’s authors, therefore rendering irrelevant whether or not the authors intended to exclude sexual orientation from the list of protected traits. Based on the language of Title VII, the opinion is clear:

“In Title VII, Congress outlawed discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”

Gorsuch also provides examples to illustrate how discrimination against sexual orientation falls under discrimination based on sex:

“Consider, for example, an employer with two employees, both of whom are attracted to men. The two individuals are, to the employer’s mind, materially identical in all respects, except that one is a man and the other a woman. If the employer fires the male employee for no reason other than the fact he is attracted to men, the employer discriminates against him for traits or actions it tolerates in his female colleague.”

A clear example of discrimination on the basis of sex. RBG must be proud.

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Politics

HEROES Act could increase unemployment stimulus benefits, add return to work bonus

(POLITICS) Because of the pandemic many peoples lives took a step back, by loosing their job. New unemployment benefits encourage you back to work.

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If you’re a citizen who has been laid off due to Coronavirus and filed for unemployment in the meantime, you may find yourself receiving a “back-to-work” incentive once you return.

According to the HEROES Act, workers who received unemployment benefits would receive $450 per week upon returning to work–this, of course, in addition to their take-home pay–rather than receiving the $600 per week that complements whatever their unemployment benefits amount to.

While the HEROES Act also proposes extending the current bonus of $600 per week for those receiving unemployment into 2021, some argue that this would incentivize remaining on unemployment checks rather than stimulating the economy–hence the $450 weekly bonus for returning to work when possible.

These fears aren’t without support. As Newsweek points out, the American Action Forum shows that “about 63 percent of Americans who are out of work as a result of the pandemic earn more with the enhanced unemployment benefits than they do from their normal wages”–a somewhat comforting statistic that still evokes relative unease when one considers the ramifications of attempting to reopen a reluctant country.

While it is unreasonable to assume that all 63 percent of those people would elect to remain on unemployment benefits rather than going back to work, the $450 bonus may ensure that all of these workers do, in fact, return in a timely manner.

Some may argue that Americans don’t (or shouldn’t) need an incentive to return to work and begin cranking the cogs of the economy once we’re in the clear, but such opinions are fairly short-sighted and largely dismissive of the economic strife many Americans face, especially in poorer regions.

Additionally, many workers will be required to take pay cuts upon rejoining the workforce, which makes the additional $450 per week much more attractive without eliciting criticism of American motivations and values.

As of this writing, Newsweek reports that the White House is “very carefully” considering the HEROES Act–a process that, given the proposed bill of $3 trillion, will take some time. It’s a colossal proposition that covers everything from the aforementioned weekly bonuses to a second round of stimulus checks, and even a form of student loan forgiveness, so keep your eye on this one.

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