The daily business briefing: August 24, 2020

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said on Sunday he believes everyone must pay “their fair share” of taxes, which is why if elected, he will “raise taxes for anybody making over $400,000.” During an interview with ABC News, Biden said there will be “no new taxes” for those earning under $400,000 or “90 percent of the businesses out there that are mom and pop businesses, that employ less than 50 people.” Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the government must assist those small businesses with “the ability to reopen,” he continued. “We have to provide more help for them, not less help.” When pressed by World News Tonight anchor David Muir about raising taxes on some people, Biden said it’s smart to “tax businesses that are in fact making excessive amounts of money and paying no taxes.” [ABC News]

President Trump and the Food and Drug Administration announced Sunday that the FDA has issued an emergency authorization for the use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19. Trump called the decision “truly historic,” saying that the treatment has been shown to reduce mortality by 35 percent. FDA documents did not immediately make it clear where he got that figure. The treatment, derived from recovered patients’ blood, already has been given to 70,000 patients. Many scientists and physicians say it could offer benefits but is no breakthrough, as the evidence available so far on its effectiveness has not been conclusive. An FDA staffer who reviewed the data on the treatment said it “may be effective” but “well-controlled randomized trials” have yet to prove it works. [The Washington Post, STAT News]

U.S. stock index futures rose early Monday, signaling possible further gains following last week’s record-setting rally. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by 1 percent several hours before the opening bell, as the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency authorization of a coronavirus treatment boosted investor sentiment. Those of the broader S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq, both of which reached record highs last week, gained 0.8 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively. Wall Street’s recent gains have been fueled by a Big Tech rally. Apple surged by more than 8 percent last week, lifting its gains this year to nearly 70 percent. The Dow remains roughly 5 percent below the February record high it set before the coronavirus crisis hit, sending stocks into a nosedive. [CNBC, Reuters]

The Trump administration granted more than 3,000 waivers to oil and gas operations, government facilities, and other sites allowing them to bypass health and environmental protection rules, including hazardous-emission monitoring requirements, due to the coronavirus crisis, The Associated Press reported Monday after a two-month investigation. The approvals allowed reduced environmental monitoring for everything from Texas oil refineries to an Army depot in Kentucky where warheads armed with nerve gas were being dismantled. The Trump administration set the stage for the monitoring cutbacks on March 26 after oil and gas industry officials argued that coronavirus lockdowns made complying with anti-pollution regulations difficult. The Environmental Protection Agency said waiver recipients still can’t exceed pollution limits. [The Associated Press]

Fortnite escalated its dispute with Apple over in-app purchasing on Sunday, calling gamers’ attention to the conflict by hosting a free online competition billed as the last chance for them to play together across all platforms. The #FreeFortnite Cup came two days after Apple asked a federal judge in California to reject Fortnite maker Epic Games’ bid to make the game available again in Apple’s App Store. Apple yanked Fortnite earlier this month after Epic Games engineered its app to bypass Apple’s system for in-app purchases to avoid paying Apple’s 30 percent cut. Apple said Epic “knew full well” that circumventing Apple’s payment system “was putting its entire relationship with Apple” at risk. [Fox Business]

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