Let them eat a $ 600 cake!
There will finally be another COVID-19 relief package, which will distribute approximately $ 900 billion in aid to people across America. But it’s a bit confusing what we’re supposed to do with it, given that there is not that much: only a direct stimulus payment of $ 600 and a $ 300 per week increase in state unemployment insurance.
“As the American people continue to fight the coronavirus this holiday season, they will not be alone,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. tweeted last night. “Congress has just reached an agreement. We will pass another rescue package as soon as possible. More help is on the way.
But, who will this really help? And how will that help them? It’s certainly not enough money to substantially help with rent or mortgage payments, or even grocery bills for very long. So, is it only for people who are trying to buy the much sought after Playstation 5 when they are back in stock? Is this just another example of the disconnected rich who think that between the first check for $ 1,200 and this, everyone can now afford the cheaper Peloton model?
If you don’t really know the answers to these questions but are just feeling anger around, don’t worry, you are not alone. The mathematicians on Twitter have calculated exactly what $ 600 is: a slap in the face.
For those who have not been able to afford food or shelter for months now, how is the new stimulus plan close enough? The $ 600 is a one-time payment for individuals, and people will get $ 5 less for every $ 100 they earned over $ 75,000 in 2019. In fact, if you’re one of those unemployed Americans who were pushed to an income cliff when the $ 600 per week the unemployment increase expired at the end of July, you are in a particularly serious situation now, because the unemployment benefits of the new bill are only half of what they were the old ones. Although these people are waiting on a lifeline, our government is pretending not to see anyone drowning.
Unemployment of $ 600 / week was a controversial amount, with Tories claiming it would prevent people from returning to work (something that has been refuted). It was also a rare recognition of reality, of what it really takes to survive in America. roughly equivalent to being paid $ 15 / hour – which many believe the federal minimum wage needs to be raised – for a 40-hour work week. Combined with state unemployment benefits, which don’t even replace half of lost wages, the program aimed to hit the median U.S. wage of around $ 19 / hour. Data for progress, which conducts polls and analysis on progressive political causes, shared people’s experiences of losing money from unemployment via a Twitter account called @ExtendCaresUI. The stories are terrible and an indictment of how much the US government has betrayed its citizens.
These are just a few of the recent submissions:
Since the stimulus payment of $ 1,200 in the spring and the expiration of unemployment of $ 600 / week in July, people have fallen even further behind on bills and rent. It is estimated that more than 12 million people are more than $ 5,000 behind on their rent. Unfortunately, a one-time payment of $ 600 won’t help, as it’s lower than the median monthly rent in every American state. According to a Business Insider Analysis Based on median household spending in major US cities, $ 600 would only last a few days for most households.
Yet all Congress can pay is a single check for $ 600 and $ 300 / week for those entitled to unemployment – and that extra unemployment isn’t even retroactive. How is this stimulus package supposed to help people facing eviction when there was never a rent cancellation in the first place? After the $ 300 / week is up in just 11 weeks, can we be sure Congress will pass something else? Where is the money that people need to survive supposed to come from? GoFundMe? Kim kardashian?
The new contingency plan also does not contain additional funding for state and local governments. State governments are strapped for cash, with Pew reporting that at least 20 states have applied for federal government loans be able to continue paying unemployment insurance.
It didn’t have to be that way. Other nations have taken a different approach. Until October, Canadians who have lost their jobs to COVID could receive CA $ 2,000 (approximately US $ 1,500) per month up to four months. In Australia, people with low incomes received two direct payments of AUD $ 750 (approximately US $ 568) and those who had lost income due to COVID could receive AUD $ 1,500 (US $ 1,136) every two weeks , which was then reduced to AUD 1,200 every two weeks, as part of a wage subsidy program.
Many countries have implemented such wage subsidy programs in response to the pandemic, in which the government directly pays eligible employers to keep their employees on the payroll instead of putting them on leave or firing them. Subsidized denmark between 75 and 90 percent of workers’ paychecks. The UK, which is currently facing another lockdown, has chosen to extend a program that replaces 80 percent of workers’ wages.
Low-income workers in France receive around 70% of their wages subsidized by the government, and its Minister of Labor has suggested that wage subsidies may be needed for up to two years to ensure that everyone recovers from the economic disruption. German wage subsidy program has already been extended last until 2021. Spain has launched a basic income program in May for those not earning a decent income, which would work for about $ 500 per month for a single adult household and more if you have dependents. Although the program has been criticized for its haphazard roll-out and for not going far enough, it is at least an attempt to respond to high unemployment and poverty rates in Spain. Our government, on the other hand, seems to be content to ghost us.
And while looking at what other countries have done is instructive, the truth is that the United States should go above and beyond what anyone else has done – no country has been so badly affected. by this virus. If the CARES Act was meant to be a one-time deal no matter what, then perhaps the federal government should have taken a more serious stance to contain the spread in the months after the bill was passed. Instead, the national response has been an unreliable patchwork of state-led plans, and we’ve consistently set new records for daily case rates and deaths. While no country has been perfect in meeting the needs of its people during the pandemic, perhaps no country has been as cruelly neglectful as the United States.
While many Republicans grabbed pearls on a $ 900 billion stimulus package, that is a shadow of what could have been, as $ 900 billion is not much compared to the scale needs – people have been suffering from COVID for 9 months now. In fact, $ 900 billion is not a lot compared to what we justify spending on many other things, including our over a trillion annual defense budget. And, $ 900 billion is not much compared to the sequels proposed prior to the CARES Act. Passed by the House in May, Heroes Act wanted to give $ 3 trillion in aid, and he reportedly extended unemployment benefits by $ 600 / week until January.
Maybe the $ 600 stimulus check is just the last test of our collective understanding of reality. It is decorated to look like adequate aid for people trying to survive the pandemic, but like everything else this year, it turns out that it’s actually just cake.
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