“The way I like it is the way it is,
I got mine, don’t worry ’bout his!”
— James Brown – “Sex Machine”
The Republican party may as well make this lyric from James Brown their official anthem as they fight to spend every last COVID-19 recovery dollar they can muster on businesses and corporations controlled by their biggest donors rather than ensuring that every American man, woman, and child has enough money for food, clothing, and shelter in this direst of emergencies.
The pervasive punitiveness of the GOP ethos as it applies to anyone but the most wealthy and powerful in our society demonstrates their utter lack of concern for the average working stiffs who have continually lost ground in the battle of income distribution in this country since the days of Ronald Reagan’s shifting of the tax burden from the wealthy to the middle class, thereby ensuring that this economic segment would rapidly disappear into relative poverty.
That ethos has been on full display this past week as Congress fights over the provisions of a new coronavirus relief bill to replace the expiring stimulus of its initial package that included a $1200 check for every America — a check that many are still waiting to receive — and a supplemental $600 per week added to their state’s unemployment benefit to help tide them through the exploding employment and the nation’s impending housing crisis as the ban on evictions for unpaid rents and mortgages expires as well.
With the pandemic forcing many businesses large and small to permanently shutter their doors and lifting unemployment to levels not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the need for a social safety net has never been greater, but, old habits die hard among the party of the compassionless.
No better example exists of this tendency towards heartlessness than Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
Senator Cruz demonstrated his inexplicable inability to put himself in the shoes of many of his own constituents during an interview this morning on CBS‘s Face The Nation.
Seeing the supplemental $600 weekly unemployment insurance payment as a barrier to the desperation that people will need to be willing to return to work in dangerous, virus-laden workplaces, Cruz declared his opposition to renewing the program that has kept many Americans fed and housed during the lockdown that has prevented many from returning to work if they still have jobs available or from seeking new employment in a tight job market.
Cruz specifically targeted some of the lowest-paid and hardest-hit by the pandemic workers in our economy, the service staff at restaurants who already are exempted from the already too-low minimum wage requirements under the assumption that their incomes are amply supplemented by tips from generous customers.
The Texas senator railed at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi whom he attacked for what he sees as her advocacy of “shoveling cash at the problem” of the pandemic.
Face The Nation host Margaret Brennan asked Cruz:
“Do you object to providing any kind or any amount of federal boost to unemployment?” Brennan queried the senator. “Because not everyone is choosing to be out of work.”
Cruz’s reply demonstrates how hard it will be for Republicans to retain control of the Senate as well as the White House in the November elections.
“The policy the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi are pushing adds an additional $600 a week,” Cruz complained as if the sum wasn’t a pittance compared to his state’s precious oil industry subsidies. “The problem is, for 68% of people receiving it right now, they are being paid more on unemployment than they made in their job.”
“I’ve spoken to small business owners all over the state of Texas who are trying to reopen,” he continued, “and they are calling their waiters and waitresses, they are calling their bus boys and they won’t come back.”
Cruz added: “And of course they won’t come back because the federal government is paying them in some instances twice as much money to stay home.”
Crus doesn’t even stop for a moment to contemplate the possibility that these low wage servers are underpaid to begin with and can’t survive on their existing wages or to ponder the idea that like schoolteachers, waiters, waitresses, and table-bussers have no burning desire to return to a workplace that could put them out of work permanently, particularly in the COVID-19-friendly environs of the small confined indoor space of a restaurant.
All the more reason to fight to remove the control of the Senate from its self-absorbed GOP overlords who answer only to their oligarchic masters.
They’ve got theirs and they’re not worrying about anyone else’s.
You can watch some of Ted Cruz’s despicable comments on CBS‘s Face The Nation in the video clip below.
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) July 26, 2020
The rest of the interview, including his comments on the renewal of the $600 weekly unemployment supplement can be found at this link.
Original reporting by Melissa Quinn at CBS News.
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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.