GOP: Lazy-Ass Poor People Are Ruining This Pandemic For Everyone
The CARES Act's $600 weekly unemployment benefit ended last week. Republicans have proposed the HEALS Act (no, really) that would reduce that benefit to $200 until October 5. For the rest of the year, federal assistance, combined with state unemployment benefits, would come out to 70 percent of your previous wages. These are a lot of numbers and percentages right up front. Let's just put it simply: Republicans are going to starve poor people to death and dance on their corpses.
Democrats and Republicans are currently deadlocked because Democrats don't want the country to go all Les Miserables and Republicans think the unemployed are deadbeats who are using the $600 benefits to buy souvenir yachts.
The media isn't helping, either, and is playing into the GOP's hands by depicting the loss of jobless benefits as a collective fail by Congress.
The Democratic-controlled House passed a stimulus package extending the $600 benefit in May. Republicans sat on their asses while still receiving taxpayer-funded salaries for whatever public service they think they're providing us. They aren't interested in passing a bill that would help the unemployed because they'd like them desperate enough to go work on the COVID-19 plantation, preferably with a song in their hearts.
It's unbelievable to hear my Senate Republican colleagues, most of whom are millionaires, complain that unemployed… https://t.co/VTVaszqd9Q— Sherrod Brown (@Sherrod Brown)1596583833.0
Last week, Senator Ted Cruz claimed that restaurant servers — big shots, all of them — weren't coming back to work because they were living too high on the stimmy.
[T]he problem is, for 68% of people receiving [the $600 benefit] right now, they are being paid more on unemployment than they made in their job. And I'll tell you, I've spoken to small business owners all over the state of Texas who are trying to reopen and they're calling their- their waiters and waitresses … they're calling their busboys, and they won't come back. 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.
These people aren't lazy, asshole. They just don't want to risk their lives to serve someone a country fried steak. Dine-in business is also slow across the country because of the pandemic. That's not a great economic indicator if more than half your income is tips.
Tommy Tuberville, Alabama's Republican Senate nominee, isn't even in Congress yet and he already wants to take food out of people's mouths. He said Tuesday on Alabama's "Morning News with JT" radio show that the the $600 benefit was "way too much." Tuberville earned $2 million a year as football coach at Auburn, and he somehow lost to Vanderbilt. That was “way too much."
TUBERVILLE: We're having people just sit out not working because they're making more sitting around. We've got to go back to work.
Almost 30 million Americans are unemployed because there's a goddamn pandemic. They aren't “sitting around" eating bon-bons all day. Tuberville is thinking of Peg Bundy from "Married ... with Children." US hiring slowed in July because coronavirus cases surged. The economics here are so simple even a soulless psychopath or, worse, a Republican should understand. Once the virus is contained, people can safely return to work in industries that are currently dormant, and employers can hire at pre-pandemic numbers. Until that happens, the $600 benefit is a critical lifeline for the unemployed.
During a CNN interview last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi assured these ghouls that the unemployed won't receive $600 every week for the end of time. She wants to tie the benefit to the existing unemployment rate. If the number of unemployed Americans decrease, the benefit can decrease. That's a humane response, whereas Republicans think cutting the benefit will get everyone back to work at the jobs that don't exist or are too dangerous.
PELOSI: A building is on fire, and [Republicans] are deciding how much water they want to have in the bucket. This is very important — millions of people could have fallen into poverty without this $600.
Economists — whose professional expertise is more than exploiting the labor of unpaid college athletes — agree with Pelosi that the $600 benefit kept families afloat and cushioned the economy from the full impact of the pandemic. This benefitted everyone, even those of us fortunate to still have jobs.
Not extending the $600 benefit will only succeed in stalling any true recovery. Republican cynicism and pettiness are hurting this country, but that's nothing new.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).