While Donald Trump is busy patting himself on the back for his “10 out of 10” response to the coronavirus pandemic that is ravaging its way across the country, one might wistfully wish that all of the sudden pandemic-inspired disruptions of what used to pass for everyday life was a big April Fool’s joke being played out on a massive scale.
The harsh reality of the effects of the still-spreading coronavirus on the lives of millions of Americans who have lost their jobs — in a society where they are normally living from paycheck to paycheck — is quite evident to those who are sheltering in place with no idea of how they will be able to pay for rent or mortgages, food, and other basic necessities of life.
As for Donald Trump, he reportedly only came to the realization of the seriousness of the pandemic’s impact when a personal friend of his — who happens to be another New York real estate mogul in his 70s — lapsed into a coma due to infection with COVID-19.
It took the president envisioning someone much like himself being intubated in a major New York City hospital to stop the talk of reopening the country for business by Easter and start treating the pandemic with the urgency that it deserved two to three months ago.
As a former bartender, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is likely much more in tune with her middle- and working-class constituents than with any wealthy real estate developers, so her own response to the economic catastrophe that has accompanied the medical toll of the coronavirus outbreak had her envisioning the plight of the recently jobless who are now struggling to survive with no safe way to earn a living as only businesses deemed essential remain open.
The progressive representative took note of today’s date when she tweeted out a demand to her fellow legislators to immediately start working on a relief plan that would bail out America’s citizens first, instead of focusing on the bailout of foreign-flagged cruise lines and other corporate interests — bailouts that primarily benefit the billionaire owners of the corporations with no guarantee that those benefits would trickle down to restore the livelihoods of laid-off workers.
The real April Fool’s joke is on everyone expecting the millions of people who just lost their incomes to pay full rent, mortgages,& major bills *TODAY* w/ few actual policies in place to help them do so.
“Wait and see” is not a plan. We need payment & housing relief policies.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 1, 2020
Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet hammered home her implicit criticism of the scant attention paid to the plight of the majority of Americans at the bottom of the pecking order by Trump and his Republican cronies.
These are the people who bristled at giving $1200 checks as a one-time payment to people who hadn’t worked for it, despite the fact that such a small sum — $17 per day for the 10 weeks that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin expects that sum to last — wouldn’t even cover a single months rent in many of the nation’s largest and most hard-hit cities, much less food and healthcare.
When Trump and the GOP say “Wait and see” what will happen before they even think about dreaming up solutions to the economic plight of millions of Americans, it essentially demonstrates their lack of understanding of — or lack of caring about— the urgency of the situations of those laid-off workers and their families.
Ocasio-Cortez’s demand that Congress immediately address these issues is spot on and requires the strong and fervent support of all of her Democratic colleagues in the House. Someone has to fight for the average American, and you can be sure that it won’t be the Republicans.
Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.