On The Money: Protests highlight COVID-19's economic toll on African Americans | Senate confirms Trump watchdog for coronavirus funds | USTR launches probes into countries' digital taxes

On The Money: Protests highlight COVID-19's economic toll on African Americans | Senate confirms Trump watchdog for coronavirus funds | USTR launches probes into countries' digital taxes
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THE BIG DEAL—Protests highlight COVID-19's economic toll on African Americans: Protests around the country over the deaths of George Floyd and other black Americans at the hands of police come as communities of color suffer staggering losses to the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis it created.

  • Economists and public health experts have issued increasingly dire warnings about the unique toll the pandemic is taking on black Americans and other minority groups, who make up a disproportionate number of COVID-19 deaths and layoffs driven by the health crisis.
  • Despite more than $3 trillion in fiscal aid from Congress, months of lagging stimulus checks, backlogged unemployment benefits and mounting bills have plunged the most vulnerable Americans deeper into financial peril.
  • The weekend of protests laid bare the ways that rising economic inequality driven by the pandemic is coming amid outrage over the criminal justice inequality that sparked demonstrations across the U.S.

“It would be impossible to divorce the protests that are going on now from larger economic forces,” said Trevon Logan, an economics professor at Ohio State University, noting that African Americans are simultaneously fighting an epidemic of police-involved deaths and COVID-19 cases in cities across America. The Hill’s Niv Elis and I explain why here.

  • Black people make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, but nearly 24 percent of American COVID-19 deaths where the race is known, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
  • The higher COVID-19 case rate among black Americans poses its own inherent economic challenges. Black people make up a disproportionate number of U.S. workers who’ve been laid off, business owners who’ve been forced to shut down, and people in front-line jobs that cannot be done from home.

“It's not just about police violence. It's about a whole bunch of things that people just maybe don't pay attention to along the way and a lot of that is stemmed from the economic impact of discrimination affecting these communities over time,” said Mehrsa Baradaran, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine.

LEADING THE DAY

USTR launches investigations into countries' digital taxes: The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on Tuesday announced that it is opening investigations into digital services taxes that have been adopted or are under consideration in a host of trading partners to determine whether they are discriminatory and burden U.S. commerce.

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  • The investigations, which will take place under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, will examine taxes that have been adopted in Austria, India, Indonesia, Italy and Turkey and that are under consideration in Brazil, the Czech Republic, the European Union, Spain and the United Kingdom. 
  • Findings that the taxes are discriminatory and burdensome could result in the U.S. imposing tariffs. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWayfair refutes QAnon-like conspiracy theory that it's trafficking children Stone rails against US justice system in first TV interview since Trump commuted his sentence Federal appeals court rules Trump admin can't withhold federal grants from California sanctuary cities MORE is concerned that many of our trading partners are adopting tax schemes designed to unfairly target our companies,” USTR Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerGOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 Pelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House MORE said in a statement. “We are prepared to take all appropriate action to defend our businesses and workers against any such discrimination.”

The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda explains here.

Senate confirms Trump's watchdog for coronavirus funds: The Senate on Tuesday voted to confirm President Trump's watchdog for the federal government's response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Senators voted 51-40 on Brian Miller's nomination to be the inspector general for pandemic response. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who faces a difficult election in November, was the only Democrat to support his nomination. 

  • Miller will be in charge of overseeing a $500 billion Treasury Department fund created as part of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed in March. The funding is supposed to back up Federal Reserve lending facilities and go toward industries, such as airlines, that have been impacted by the virus.
  • Miller, a White House lawyer, has faced deep skepticism from Democrats on whether or not he would be willing to stand up to Trump, who has recently fired several inspectors general including those tied to the impeachment inquiry. 

The Hill’s Jordain Carney has more here.

GOOD TO KNOW