The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Nightmare Before Christmas: 803K More Pink Slips a Reality Check for McConnell That More Pandemic Aid Needed

McConnell Can Start by Supporting the U.S. House’s $2,000 Stimulus Check Booster Bill 


803,000 more workers filed for unemployment going into a holiday week, joining tens of millions of Americans who remain without work in the Trump recession. It's the latest economic fallout of the pandemic the Trump administration gave up on -- a health crisis mismanaged from the start that has cost the lives of over 300,000 in the U.S. and claims thousands more each day. Badly squeezed families, small businesses and local governments have waited for months for adequate assistance from Washington. What they got instead this week was 'stimulus light' which -- at the insistence of the McConnell-led Senate -- offered insufficient relief for hurting workers while it porked up handouts for rich special interests. This week, Senate Leader McConnell will have a golden opportunity to get his priorities straight by supporting congressional Democrats' amendment to boost stimulus checks to $2,000, a critical down payment on additional help families will need to get by during the historic health and economic crisis.

"Mitch McConnell and his fellow Senate obstructionists found plenty of money for tax goodies for corporations and the richest among us in the latest stimulus bill," said Jeremy Funk, spokesman for Accountable.US. "The McConnell Senate now has no excuse for refusing $2,000 checks to workers making incredible sacrifices during the holiday season amid a pandemic that President Trump and his allies bungled from the beginning. The rich and powerful are already poised to have a very merry holiday season thanks to McConnell's stimulus handouts. The least he can do is support a less-than-insulting bit of additional help for the tens of millions out of work in the Trump recession. They're the ones who really need a Christmas bonus."

Last May, the U.S. House passed a serious pandemic relief bill that was more than twice the size of the compromise bill agreed upon this week and included $1,200 stimulus checks for hurting families. In the Senate that same month, Mitch McConnell smirked and said he wanted to hit the "pause" button on any further stimulus indefinitely, while Vice President-elect Kamala Harris introduced a bill to provide $2,000 a month for struggling families during the pandemic. After dragging his feet for eight months, McConnell finally agreed to more pandemic relief, but only if he could cut stimulus checks in half to $600. Now that even President Trump is on board for additional stimulus money for Americans, Senator McConnell and fellow scrooges are the only ones standing in the way of $2,000 checks for millions of Americans making tough choices between food, bills, and rent.

COMPROMISE STIMULUS AT BEST A DOWN-PAYMENT: Much more work remains to be done even if Congress passes $2,000 stimulus checks. The compromise stimulus passed this week slashed the value of direct unemployment insurance in half from what the CARES Act provided -- leaving many families out in the cold without the means to pay for essentials like rent, food, and medicine. The bill also denies much-needed aid to states and local communities that are essential for implementing public safety measures otherwise maintaining basic support for their populations amid the pandemic. The bill inexplicably does not extend the pause the CARES Act placed on student loan payments. The bill's housing aid does not meet the estimated $70 billion in back rent coming due and only delays the looming eviction crisis by a month. Meanwhile, at the insistence of Trump's allies in Congress, the bill included big new tax breaks for big business -- including a special interest provision that aims to further benefit the richest and most powerful beneficiaries of the Trump Small Business Administration's flawed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). It also includes a provision allowing for a corporate tax deduction for three martini lunches, a long-held priority for President Trump.

"We don't need to 'wait and see' whether McConnell's latest tax breaks for millionaires will stop hundreds of thousands of Americans from losing their job every week and small businesses from going under left and right. They won't. They never do," added Funk.

Accountable.US is a nonpartisan watchdog that exposes corruption in public life and holds government officials and corporate special interests accountable by bringing their influence and misconduct to light. In doing so, we make way for policies that advance the interests of all Americans, not just the rich and powerful.