So, you’ve probably heard that the Senate is poised to pass a $2.2 trillion stimulus package, to offset the economic fuckery caused by covid-19 (and the United States’ garbage response). But what exactly is in the bill? Who sees the benefits and who gets fucked? Well, it’s... a mixed bag.
So first off, the good: Hospitals are getting a much needed financial boost to the tune of $150 billion to help fund facilities, hospital equipment, and protection for medical staff. The new bill also increases unemployment insurance by $600 per week for the next four months on top of the base unemployment salary allotted by the state. This is extended to gig workers, freelancers, and furloughed employees, which is a massive plus!
Cool. Great. Let’s take a look at the not so great shit.
First off, let’s just get this out of the way: That one time $1,200 check for every adult who earned no more than $75,000 is an absolute joke, especially for what is sure to be a multi-month long shitshow. It’s simply not sustainable. And for Americans who don’t have a bank account with direct deposit, they might not see that money for months.
From the New York Times:
The bill also includes a $1,200 payment for each adult — and $500 per child — in households that earn up to $75,000 per year for individuals or $150,000 for couples. The assistance phases out for people who earn more. Senate Democratic aides said on Wednesday that eligible Americans with direct-deposit bank account information on file with the Internal Revenue Service for tax refunds — about 70 million people — should see their payments arrive within a few weeks of the bill being signed into law. Eligible Americans who do not have such information on file, and thus will be waiting for a check in the mail from the I.R.S., will need to wait up to four months to receive one, the aides said.
Do senators know when the rent is due?
And then, there’s the $500 billion allotted for big businesses which caused strife among Democrats and Republicans. Democrats did not want, for example, the airline industry to get a $50 billion bailout. They’re getting one anyway! And Republicans ultimately got their way on most of these situations, with Democrats throwing some asterisks into the mix to reel in the corporations just a tad. But that might not be enough.
The Huffington Post’s rundown was grim:
The bill permits bailed out companies to lay off up to 10% of their workforce over the next six months, with no restrictions thereafter. Mnuchin would have authority to waive any upside for the public in its new investments, and the bill’s restrictions on stock buybacks at bailed-out firms are too temporary to be significant. Bailed out companies could even pay dividends to their shareholders.
Bailout money will flow to the shareholders of large corporations, otherwise known as rich people. The oversight terms that Democrats secured are purely cosmetic, replicating the toothless provisions of the 2008 bank bailout that enabled watchdogs to report abuse but not actually prevent or rectify it.
What could go wrong?
Meanwhile, billionaires are very eager to go back to work. Sorry, wait, let me rephrase that: Billionaires are very eager for you to go back to work. They’re not getting anywhere near the outside world if they can help it, but they’re ready for the plebs that make them money to buck up and just avoid covid-19 as best they can.
According to a particularly bleak piece published in Bloomberg, the billionaire-class shares President Trump’s opinion that the measures used to combat the spread of covid-19—like extreme social distancing, closure of non-vital businesses, etc—could be worse than the fatal pandemic itself. They literally don’t care if their employees die in the process as long as they can extract some labor out of them first.
From Bloomberg (bolding mine):
Dick Kovacevich, who ran Wells Fargo & Co. until 2007, wants to see healthy workers below about 55 or so to return to work late next month if the outbreak is under control. “We’ll gradually bring those people back and see what happens. Some of them will get sick, some may even die, I don’t know,” said Kovacevich, who was also the bank’s chairman until 2009. “Do you want to suffer more economically or take some risk that you’ll get flu-like symptoms and a flu-like experience? Do you want to take an economic risk or a health risk? You get to choose.”
Of course, covid-19 is much more serious than the flu, and a workforce and populace that is dropping like flies or is too sick to work is just asking for economic collapse regardless. But why worry oneself with something as pesky as facts?
- In case you’re thirsty for more Wow We Really Fucked Up On Our Covid-19 Response news, here’s this: Apparently the Department of Homeland Security stopped updating its pandemic models back in 2017 due to bureaucratic beef. [Politico]
- Say hello to Pete Buttigieg’s “I quit my presidential campaign” beard
“If he had the beard he would’ve WON,” someone noted. Hm, debatable, but people would have definitely been thirstier.
- Bernie Sanders has every intention of debating Joe Biden in April if the DNC schedules a debate. [New York Times]
- Meanwhile, Biden is like... “nah, lol.”
- Speaking of Biden, he’s hosting a happy hour to talk to The Youths™ about issues that The Youths™ care about most. Get your liquor ready.
- And speaking of youths, Sanders is having a hell of a time yelling at the youths covering his campaign to stand farther apart.
- Sometimes you have to laugh to stop yourself from crying
- The Detroit City Council President is challenging Rashida Tlaib for her congressional seat. [Detroit Metro Times]