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 evictions, student 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:
If Congress can afford to spend $740.5 billion on a Pentagon Authorization bill, we can afford stimulus checks for the American people.
Congress should focus on responding to the urgent needs of the American people—not passing a bill to appease defense contractors. pic.twitter.com/ib705TRddY
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) December 9, 2020
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) added:
I voted 'NO' on approving the Pentagon's $740 billion budget.
We should be cutting down the Pentagon's budget—not increasing it…again.
Let's put the priorities of the American people above the profits of defense contractors. pic.twitter.com/KekI7TI937
— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) December 8, 2020
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.”
BREAKING: U.S. billionaires have grown their collective wealth by $1 trillion since mid-March. That's more than it would cost to send a $3,000 stimulus check to every person in America.
More of our latest research here: https://t.co/wvfXxl92yK pic.twitter.com/sYgDKiuW70
— Americans For Tax Fairness (@4TaxFairness) December 9, 2020
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) tweeted:
I am being told that including another stimulus check is too expensive.
Fine. Tax the rich and pay for it. Billionaires added $931 billion to their net worth during the padmemic. They can afford it.
P.S. They got a $1.7 trillion tax cut. We can start there.
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) December 9, 2020
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants a relief package that contains legislation shielding corporations from liability.
When I came to Congress, I knew I had a responsibility to pull back the curtain for the American people and expose corruption in real time. So, I’m filling you in on Senator McConnell’s attempts over the last 8 days to tank a *bipartisan* COVID relief bill. (THREAD)
— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) December 9, 2020
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.
The American people need help and they need help now. That means any COVID-19 relief deal must include:
-$1,200 direct payments to the working class
-No get-out-of-jail free card to corporations that put the lives of their workers and customers at risk https://t.co/0hNeyXB7El
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 8, 2020
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.
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