Sen. Bernie Sanders late Monday slammed the GOP's coronavirus stimulus package as an obscene giveaway to corporate executives that would do little to nothing for the millions of people across the U.S. struggling to afford food, healthcare, and other basic necessities.
"Pathetic would be too mild a word," the Vermont senator said of the newly released Republican plan in an interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes. "They are now giving a 100% deduction for rich people to go out and have three martini lunches. But you know what, millions of families in this country are facing hunger; there's not an additional nickel in their package for nutrition programs for children or for working people."
"In addition to the 100% deduction for lunches and entertainment, they also have some $30 billion into the Pentagon on top of the $740 billion bill that was passed last week."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
Sanders was referring to a proposal led by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) that would provide a 100% tax deduction for business meals through the end of the year, a plan Republicans presented as an effort to encourage people to support struggling restaurants.
Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, wrote late Monday that "under the Senate Republican plan, meals for corporate executives would be more heavily subsidized, but a strengthening of SNAP benefits for people facing hunger and food insecurity didn't make the cut."
According to a new analysis of census data by the nonpartisan Council on Contemporary Families, more than 13.5 million households with children reported in the first week of July that they didn't have enough to eat.
Sanders went on to note that the GOP's $1 trillion package includes "not a nickel" in funding for election assistance or the U.S. Postal Service, which could completely run out of cash be September without emergency relief from Congress.
"What you are seeing is I think their priorities are coming out pretty clearly," Sanders said of Senate Republicans. "In addition to the 100% deduction for lunches and entertainment, they also have some $30 billion into the Pentagon on top of the $740 billion bill that was passed last week."
"Bottom line here is obviously Democrats in the Senate have got to remain strong, we've got to make absolutely clear that workers in this country continue to receive that $600 [weekly boost in unemployment benefits]," Sanders continued. "In my view, $1,200 per person is not enough; we should go up to $2,000. And, by the way, we should guarantee healthcare for all people during this terrible crisis, when so many people are worried about the pandemic."