As you’ve probably heard by now, there’s a very scary, very contagious disease ravaging the U.S. called COVID-19, which has not only killed more than 287,000 people but millions of jobs and thousands of businesses as well. Not having a job, you see, is bad for people who can’t just drop $30 million on a Miami island and actually have to think about where they’re going to get money to pay for things like shelter and buy stuff like food. It’s extra bad if they happen to live in a country where the government does comparatively little to help people who’ve fallen on hard times and exceedingly bad if that country is the United States, where the president is a cartoonishly evil moron named Donald Trump, who apparently thinks everyone can just get by on possible tax fraud and other financial schemes.
On Tuesday, that outlook translated to the Trump administration proposing an economic relief package that would not only offer much fewer federal unemployment benefits than what has been proposed by lawmakers, but would reduce those $1,200 checks people got in the spring by half. Per The Washington Post:
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has proposed that lawmakers approve another stimulus check worth $600 per [adult] and $600 per child, the people familiar with the plan said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to share details of private deliberations. The new White House proposal was a nonstarter for Democrats and a sharp rejection of the bipartisan efforts that have brought the two parties closer to a compromise on a legislative package amid signs that the U.S. economy is deteriorating under the increasing strain of the coronavirus.
Under the bipartisan framework released last week by a group of moderate lawmakers, Congress would approve about $180 billion in new federal unemployment benefits for tens of millions of jobless Americans. That would be enough to fund federal supplementary unemployment benefits at $300 per week while extending various unemployment programs that are set to expire at the end of the year. The framework did not include another round of stimulus payments. By contrast, Mnuchin has submitted a plan to provide about $40 billion in new funding for federal unemployment benefits. Mnuchin’s plan would extend expiring benefits but does not include any supplementary federal benefit, meaning millions of jobless workers would receive no additional federal help, one person familiar with the plan said.
While economists have not universally endorsed stimulus checks, with some arguing that millions went out to families whose breadwinners have not lost their jobs or been forced to take pay cuts, others have noted, per the Post, that “the checks helped stabilize a turbulent economy and reached many people struggling economically who were denied unemployment benefits or other forms of social insurance.” An analysis by the Urban Institute in August found that another round of checks would prevent 6.3 million people from falling into poverty.
In response to the plan submitted by Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement saying, “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.”
In other congressional news, on Tuesday, Representative Katie Porter skewered Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for blocking the bipartisan relief package unveiled earlier this month because it doesn’t protect employers for being sued for negligence. “Everyone at the negotiating table—including Senate Rs—has agreed to a compromise. Except one,” Porter tweeted. “Mitch McConnell is refusing to bring it to the floor unless it wipes away all COVID-related lawsuits filed that ‘allege injury or death’ due to corporate negligence. These lawsuits represent the worst of the worst examples of disregard for human life—cases filed on behalf of nursing home patients and grocery store workers who died because the company in charge of keeping them safe prioritized cutting costs over protecting them.“ She added: “The same McConnell who said that President Trump is ‘100% within his rights’ to pursue baseless lawsuits alleging election fraud is now refusing to pass urgently-needed relief unless it strips those same rights from the most vulnerable among us. This must be exposed.”
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