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."
Why be so cheap? Give everyone $1 million a day, every day, forever. And three soy lattes a day. And a foot massage.
We have a magic money tree — we should use it! https://t.co/0ODgPBhc4O
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) August 10, 2020
"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.
It's not a goddamn joke Ted. Millions of families are facing hunger, the threat of eviction, and the loss of their health care during a pandemic that is worsening every day. Get real. https://t.co/z6ygY8lSxc
— Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) August 10, 2020
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 voted to pass a $740,000,000,000 military budget two weeks ago. That's $2 billion a day, every day. https://t.co/ZIT6Pt2unF
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) August 10, 2020
"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."
Truth- @tedcruz doesn't give a damn about ordinary people he doesn't want our government spending money on our healthcare, schools or jobs but he sure is willing to put billions and billons into endless wars https://t.co/msH93GRpkk
— Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez (@cristinafortx) August 10, 2020
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.
Sen @TedCruz & I don’t agree on much, but he IS right about this. There actually IS a money tree. It’s a magical money tree. And you can sit in its shade and eat it’s fruit. As long as you are wealthy, a stockholder, or a major company. It’s just not for out of work Americans. https://t.co/zk1gPcGYTS
— Ali Velshi (@AliVelshi) August 10, 2020
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 acted like we had a magic money tree when he voted for tax cuts for billionaires and corporations. But when it comes to keeping people from starving or becoming homeless during a pandemic he suddenly gets stingy. Ted works for his big-money donors, not his constituents. https://t.co/SOeLL4sHMi
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) August 10, 2020
The irony is the 2017 GOP $1.7T tax cut literally gave ~$1M a day, every day, forever—to America's 465 wealthiest billionaires.
Ted Cruz's magic money tree exists, but only for the billionaires who fund his re-election. https://t.co/2Kmouw4F4p
— Qasim Rashid for Congress (@QasimRashid) August 10, 2020
"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.