The coronavirus crisis has prompted a “mask-off” moment for the President and his Republican cronies in both a literal and figurative sense. As thousands of Americans die and millions lose their jobs with every passing week, the White House and the Republican Senate majority have eagerly used every opportunity they have to funnel trillions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts to corporations and the billionaires that own them but had to be dragged kicking and screaming to cough up a lowly $1200 for the American taxpayer.
Now that big business has been satiated with a fresh glut of relief money, the Democrats are beginning negotiations on a fourth bailout package, this time for everyone else — but suddenly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) doesn’t yet feel “the urgency of acting immediately.”
Just asked McConnell about phase 4. “We’re basically assessing what we've done already. I'm in constant communication with the White House. If we decide to go forward, we will go forward together. In the meantime, I don't think we have yet felt the urgency of acting immediately.” https://t.co/3yy9wEmCtN
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 11, 2020
Last month saw the American economy shed a staggering 20.5 million jobs, sending the unemployment rate skyrocketing to 14.7% — the highest level in American history. “It’s literally off the charts,” says Bank of America’s head of economics, Michelle Meyer.
Not only are tens of millions of Americans now unable to pay their bills or put food on their tables, all fifty states are also facing serious budget deficits caused by the coronavirus crisis, totaling nearly half a trillion dollars across the board.
If the states are not bailed out, the shortfall is likely to trigger crushing austerity, massive job losses, and an abrupt end to critical public services that could push our economy into years of recession or even a great depression to rival the 1929 crash.
House Democrats are beginning to work on a Phase 4 bailout package for Main Street, debating ideas such as cash assistance for struggling families, expansion of vote-by-mail and absentee ballot measures, bailouts for the state governments, aid for rent and mortgage payments, and student loan relief.
But they are expected to encounter stiff opposition from Trump and the Republicans, who all of a sudden are simply beside themselves with fake concern for the national debt after exploding it by $3 trillion with their tax cuts for big business and the wealthy just two years ago.
While we have long come to expect this kind of rhetoric from the most unrepentantly evil man in American politics today, it is still stunning to see the shocking disregard that McConnell shows his own voters and to the millions of American families who are struggling to get by and keep a roof over their heads without any income.
40% of the American population couldn’t come up with $400 in an emergency before the coronavirus crisis hit; the crisis is sure to have destroyed savings and heaped unbearable stress and hardship on an American middle class already on shaky ground.
But none of that means anything to a millionaire like Mitch McConnell, who seems to have made it his life’s mission to inflict as much suffering on American voters making under $250,000 a year as he possibly can. It is more imperative than ever that we replace McConnell, Trump, and the rest of the plutocrat Republicans with people who actually give a damn about the people of this country.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.