Congress Finally Settles On 'Stimulus' Deal That Won't Cover Most People's Rent
It's finally here. The deal it took Congress over five months to come up with — a deal meant to help Americans survive the winter in the middle of a pandemic that has killed 324,869 people and counting. Right now, just to be clear, COVID-19 is infecting and killing more people than it was back in April when Congress last offered Americans some relief. More places have to be shut down because the virus is spread more evenly throughout the country. More Americans are suffering, and because the eviction moratorium is over, many of those Americans may be evicted from their homes very soon, because they cannot afford rent. We are currently headed toward an eviction tsunami.
The median monthly rent in the United States right now, for a one bedroom apartment, is $1,487. Members of Congress make about $14,500 a month. In the last five months, we paid $38,787,500 for the 535 members of Congress to do their jobs. These are just some numbers to keep in mind when you read what we actually ended up getting in this "stimulus bill."
Via the New York Times:
Although text was not immediately available, the agreement was expected to provide $600 stimulus payments to millions of American adults earning up to $75,000. It would revive lapsed supplemental federal unemployment benefits at $300 a week for 11 weeks — setting both at half the amount provided by the original stimulus law.
It would also continue and expand benefits for gig workers and freelancers, and it would extend federal payments for people whose regular benefits have expired.
The measure would also provide more than $284 billion for businesses and revive the Paycheck Protection Program, a popular federal loan program for small businesses that lapsed over the summer. It would expand eligibility under the program for nonprofits, local newspapers and radio and TV broadcasters and allocate $15 billion for performance venues, independent movie theaters and other cultural institutions devastated by the restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Well, it's something. Can't say much more about it than that, but it is something — which, obviously, is better than nothing. It's half of what we got in the beginning of the pandemic, and it probably won't cover anyone's rent, but it's apparently the best we could do with people like Ron Johnson and Jim Jordan around, trying to Ayn Rand the whole thing. It sure would have been nice if people could have gotten $1,200 checks like we got in April, which some of our elected representatives were fighting for, but alas.
You would think all these people that have been screaming for the last 70 years about their breadline-related fears, re: communism, would take a look at all of the people out there waiting in line for things like bread and go "Oh no! Breadlines! We've got to do something about that, stat!" But apparently they're only scared of breadlines in communist societies and feel pretty okay about them in our own.
If you have a place that is soundproofed and you can scream very loudly without freaking out your neighbors and/or co-workers, you may want to head there (or grab a pillow) before reading what Mitch McConnell dared to say.
"We can finally report what our nation has needed to hear for a very long time," Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said Sunday night. "More help is on the way."
Oh is it, Mitch? Perhaps people would not have had to wait so long if you and your people had not been so cheap with the help, had not demanded it be under a trillion dollars of help or had not tried kept trying to put businesses over people.
While Republicans are being all "Welp! Guess we're done here now! Everyone is saved!" about things, Democratic leaders are positing this as simply a first step towards more help.
"We have now reached agreement on a bill that will crush the virus and put money in the pockets of working families who are struggling," Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote to Democrats on Sunday in a letter outlining some of the details of the measure. "This emergency relief bill is an important initial step." [...]
"Once this deal is signed into law, it cannot be the final word on congressional relief," said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, who referred to the agreement as a "down payment."
Well, let's hope so. Because these aren't so much "stimulus checks" as they are "survival checks" and a lot of people aren't gonna make it without some more.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse