12 million workers are set to lose federal unemployment benefits the day after Christmas if Republican lawmakers continue withholding funding for federal COVID-19 relief programs, according to a new Century Foundation report.
The study’s authors, Andrew Stettner and Elizabeth Pancotti, explain that 40 million–one in four–workers benefitted from one of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act’s programs for jobless citizens this year.
Just last April alone, the CARES Act helped lift over 18 million Americans out of poverty.
Stettner and Pancotti warn:
“Unless these programs are extended, only 18 states will provide any type of additional benefits to millions of the long-term unemployed. Without unemployment benefits and with savings badly depleted, families will be at high risk for food insecurity and loss of their homes, and many may be unable to pay for healthcare during some of the darkest days of the pandemic. The nation’s entire economy will suffer.”
The blame lies solely rest with Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund President, Sherrilyn Ifill, called Sen. McConnell’s pronouncement to “bring the Senate together every day to push through more judges” while more Americans are left to rely on food banks “an outrage beyond words.”
In the six months since the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, McConnell’s priority has been confirming more federal judges to lifetime appointments.
Today marks 6 months since the House passed the HEROES Act, but guess what McConnell is focused on this week: judges. He’s lined up votes on SIX Trump judicial nominees (for lifetime seats) instead of passing meaningful COVID relief. That’s his priority as the pandemic rages on.
— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) November 15, 2020
NY Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez assailed McConnell’s partisan cruelty:
“Just a day or two ago, the Senate majority leader, Senator McConnell, decide to break the Senate. And he broke the Senate as there are thousands of people in Texas lined up for food lines. He broke the Senate while hospitals no longer have beds to house the sick. He broke the Senate, and dismissed the Senate, while 30 million Americans are on the brink of eviction. He dismissed the Senate when every single day, when we go back to our communities, people are asking us, ‘Where is there going to be help? Is there going to be a second stimulus check? Are we going to get the resources that we need? The Senate prides itself as one of the most deliberative bodies. They abandoned them.”
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said:
“Cases and hospitalizations are skyrocketing, which will cause the economy to further decline over the next few months. In the face of mass death and economic devastation, Mitch McConnell is doing nothing to provide relief to American families.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday demanded McConnell act in the American people’s interest:
“For the sake of the country, we ask that you come to the table and work with us to produce an agreement that meets America’s needs in this critical time.”
While America’s richest have enjoyed seeing their wealth grow by a trillion dollars since the pandemic hit in March, many economists urge Congress to “use debt, go big, and stay big” with a $three trillion debt-financed stimulus package to increase unemployment benefits and boost fiscal aid to state and local governments, nutrition assistance, and other safety net expansions, lest we descend into financial ruin.
— John Schmitt (@jschmittwdc) November 24, 2020
Perhaps, though, financial ruin is precisely what Mitch McConnell and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin want.
In what appears to be little more than post-election vindictiveness, Mnuchin is cutting off Treasury and Federal Reserve emergency lending programs, scaling back uncommitted monies he intends to relegate to the General Fund so future Biden-appointed Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen must obtain congressional approval to access it.
As Joan McCarter reports for The Daily Kos:
“This will hamstring both Yellen and the Fed in the future. That’s in part because it’s running out of tools to juice the economy. It can’t do anything with interest rates since they’re already at zero. It can’t give to the people to boost consumer spending. Top economists are pleading with Congress to do just that. More than 125 economists organized by the Economic Security Project have written an open letter to Congress calling for more direct payments to families. Now.”
So when the house of cards comes crashing down, as McConnell, Mnuchin, Trump, et. al are engineering it to, it will be at President Joe Biden most Americans will point fingers.
The level of sociopathy is just too incredible to be true.
Yet it is.
Image credit: kaosenlared.net