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A sign is seen on a vehicle in a caravan protest asking the state of Florida to fix its unemployment system on May 22, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Weeks After Voting for $740 Billion Pentagon Budget, Ted Cruz Says 'Magic Money Tree' Isn't Available to Struggling Families

"It's not a goddamn joke, Ted," Sen. Ed Markey said.

Julia Conley

Sen. Ed Markey led the charge on Monday against his colleague, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, after the GOP lawmaker mocked the notion of providing robust financial assistance to Americans during the coronavirus pandemic as the nation faces a Great Depression-level unemployment crisis. 

Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, has been vocal in recent months about the need for the federal government to provide monthly direct payments to every adult in the U.S. for the duration of the pandemic, similar to assistance provided in other wealthy countries. 

Markey joined Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) in May to introduce the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act, which would provide a $2,000 check to anyone struggling to make ends meet during the coronavirus crisis, which has now stretched on for five months as President Donald Trump and other Republican leaders have encouraged Americans to return to work and regular activities—rather than giving them the financial support needed to stay home temporarily—resulting in significant spikes in Covid-19 case numbers across the country and widespread economic hardship.

When Markey took to social media to again demand the assistance for working families on Monday, Cruz suggested struggling Americans would use any government assistance they receive to buy "three soy lattes a day and a foot massage" and sarcastically added, "We have a magic money tree."

"It's not a goddamn joke, Ted," Markey replied, explaining to his colleague that Americans across the country need a far-reaching federal investment to help them afford groceries, rent, healthcare payments, and other necessities in order to keep money flowing through the economy that Republicans claim to want to save. 

Cruz's mockery of the economic crisis and its impacts on families across the country came as his own constituents in Texas face an 8.6% unemployment rate. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued legal guidance on Friday saying local governments cannot legally delay evictions for people struggling to pay rent during the pandemic. A nationwide moratorium on evictions for more than 12 million people expired late last month.   

The level of food insecurity and hunger in the state Cruz represents has doubled since the pandemic began, according to the charity Feeding Texas, and food banks across the country have seen significant increases in demand.

While Cruz scoffed on Monday at the notion of alleviating this economic pain with an investment that would largely go right back into local economies as people buy groceries and other necessities, government watchdog Public Citizen pointed out that the senator had no problem authorizing a $740,000,000,000 military spending budget just weeks ago, and joined the rest of his party in rejecting an amendment that would slash the Pentagon's budget by 10% to save money for education, healthcare, and housing in poor communities.

"That's $2 billion a day, every day," Public Citizen said of the budget that was passed.

"Ted Cruz doesn't give a damn about ordinary people," added Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, who ran in the Democratic primary earlier this year for Sen. John Cornyn's (R-Texas) Senate seat, "but he sure is willing to put billions and billons into endless wars."

MSNBC's Ali Velshi conceded to Cruz that "there actually IS a money tree" in the United States. 

"It's just not for out-of-work Americans," the anchor tweeted. 

In addition to supporting massive spending by the Pentagon, critics wrote, Cruz has enthusiastically supported tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and corporations.

"Ted Cruz's magic money tree exists, but only for the billionaires who fund his re-election," tweeted Qasim Rashid, a Democratic nominee for Congress in Virginia.

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