Economic Relief Package Stalls For Corporate Immunity and the Pentagon (Video)

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, threatening workers with evictionsstudent loan bills, and other expenses as the pandemic ramps up again.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday decided to make their pain even worse.

Amid fervent congressional negotiations, Mnuchin proposed $916 billion that would eliminate weekly federal unemployment benefits in exchange for a one-time $600 stimulus check per adult and child.

In a joint statement House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stated:

“The president’s proposal starts by cutting the unemployment insurance proposal being discussed by bipartisan members of the House and Senate from $180 billion to $40 billion. That is unacceptable.”

Contrast this with the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in March that gave to most households $1,200 per adult and $500 per child in addition to a $600-per-week unemployment stipend from which 40 million–one in four–workers benefitted, lifting over 18 million Americans out of poverty just in the month of April.

The problem is not–nor has it ever been–the ability to afford it.

On Tuesday, the House approved a $740.5 billion Pentagon budget for 2021.

Minn. Rep. Ilhan Omar slammed the measure:

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) added:

According to Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) research, the country’s 651 billionaires have amassed enough wealth during the pandemic to grant every individual one-time $3,000 stimulus checks.

ATF executive director Frank Clemente said in a statement:

“As tens of millions of Americans suffer from the health and economic ravages of this pandemic, a few hundred billionaires add to their massive fortunes. Their pandemic profits are so immense that America’s billionaires could pay for a major Covid relief bill and still not lose a dime of their pre-virus riches.”

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) tweeted:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants a relief package that contains legislation shielding corporations from liability.

Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey, Kirsten Gillibrand, Ron Wyden, and Jeff Merkley signed a letter urging fellow lawmakers to join in demanding direct stimulus payments and rejecting the sop to corporations.

But it looks like, once again, Mitch McConnell is turning his back on lower- and middle-class Americans who did nothing to deserve the economic plight through which they are suffering.

McConnell’s staff informed congressional leadership Thursday the Senate is unwilling to support the $908 billion bipartisan proposal.

These are our tax dollars at work.

Or not.

Image credit: pumabydesign001

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.