The paltry Covid relief bill only happened because McConnell got worried about Georgia
A check of $600 per adult won't pay rent and food for most families for one month. Democrats must drive that point home while the GOP is on the run.
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Any help is welcome when people are terribly hurting, but saying that the $900 billion relief package Congress put together last night is “good enough,” as a New York Times editorial put it, is buying into GOP framing. This is not some government handout, as Republicans like to put it. It's taxpayer money going to people who are suffering during a calamity, people who’ve lost almost everything and who need much more if they’re to survive and we are to rebuild the economy.
The fact that this comparatively paltry bill took months to come to passage while people suffered is because of one man. Democrats can be faulted for miscalculation and errors, but make no mistake, this is all on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who wants to starve cities and states in blue America, and hand President-elect Joe Biden a further-decimated economy.
Every prominent economist had warned that a bill this small wouldn’t give Americans enough aid to help an economy as devastated as this one to recover. It’s far from the over $3 trillion Democrats passed in the Heroes Act many months ago (and which McConnell refused to take up), which would have helped millions sooner and for a longer period of time, and would have stimulated the economy proportionate to what’s necessary — and we’d still likely need more.
A group of multimillionaires in the Senate — the richest of which is Georgia’s Kelly Loeffler — decided that just $600 per person for those who earn under $75,000 was enough for families to feed themselves and pay rent while millions are out work for months. In the CARES Act passed in March, the $1200 checks weren’t nearly enough, but helped to stabilize the economy in the short term, when it was less devastated than it is now. Millions more are struggling now as the coronavirus pandemic is seeing its highest numbers each day and surging.
Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, on the list of richest members of the Senate — who was very much behind Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations — suddenly became concerned about deficits and “mortgaging our children’s futures” when $1200 payments were floated by a fellow Republican and even by Trump.
Children’s future? What about our children’s present, as millions go starving? Or did Johnson literally mean, in saying “our” children’s future, that he’s worried about his children’s future and their children’s future, making sure the children of the wealthy do just fine while others are thrown to the curb?
Food lines have been growing for months all over the country with an estimated 40% of those on line having never asked for food before. About 15 million children are going without enough food. People have been facing eviction by the day. Small businesses have shuttered their doors for good while more are going under.
While this bill offers eviction assistance by extending the deadline on evictions until the end of January and putting aside $25 million for those who can’t pay their rent — something Democrats demanded — that deadline will come very quickly and that money will run out fast. New funds for the payroll protection program will only make a dent in helping businesses that are hurting badly.
The same goes regarding the increase in unemployment by $300 in this bill when the economy is now far worse than in the early part of the pandemic, when the CARES Act gave a $600 increase.
There is no money for states and cities in this bill — blocked by McConnell — and money left over from the CARES Act will not be rolled into this, as Democrats had hoped, to help cities and states reeling under terrible conditions amid the financial burdens of the pandemic. Trump, however, was able to get tax cut for corporations put into the bill — dubbed the “three-martini” lunch deduction — which Democrats only accepted in return for child tax credits for low income families.
While funds in the CARES Act were able to keep the poverty level from rising in the early part of the epidemic, it has grown from 9.3% in June to 11.7% in November, the largest jump since 1960. What is in this bill won’t do much to stop it from continuing to grow for long, even if it helps slow that growth. A much bigger bill is going to be needed.
McConnell and most of the GOP are cruel and heartless. The only reason this bill even got to this point is because McConnell is worried about the fate of Georgia Republicans Loeffler and David Perdue, both locked in tight runoff races on January 5th.
On a call with Republicans earlier in the month, according to reports, McConnell said the two senators were “getting hammered” and that something had to be passed. Democrats have been aggressively campaigning for Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, going door to door and explaining to voters that they are need to get out to vote if they are hurting and want to get relief, and voters are energized.
If not for that, you can bet on it that McConnell wouldn’t even have done this meager bill — having stalled aide for months, wanting to set Biden up for failure. That’s why Democrats in Georgia have to keep it up — and why we all do — as Republicans are on the run. Democrats have to make the case that this is a pittance, that the only way we’ll get what’s needed is if Democrats take control of the Senate by winning those races.
And, no matter what happens in the January runoffs, since this economy isn’t going to recover any time soon — and despite life-saving vaccines, the pandemic won’t be behind us for well into next year — that is a message Democrats have to drive home for 2022, running in House and Senate races against Republicans who will have done whatever they could to hurt people in the middle of the worse pandemic in a century because they simply don’t care.