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How the Richest 1 Percent Came Out Big Winners in the Covid Relief Bill

Republicans didn't blink twice when they handed out $6.3 billion in tax breaks to their wealthy corporate backers, but when it came to getting direct relief to struggling Americans $600 was the best they could do.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) walks to the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol on December 17, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) walks to the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol on December 17, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Hidden in the bill combining Covid relief and government spending is a cool $200 billion in tax breaks. An estimated $120 billion of those tax breaks will go to the richest 1 percent of Americans.

Those giveaways include:

—A $2.5 billion break for racecar tracks

—A $6.3 billion write-off for business meals, i.e. the “three-martini lunch” deduction

—A new provision under the Paycheck Protection Program that allows forgiven loans to also be tax deductible, giving businesses the ability to “double dip” into the program

The bill also creates an independent commission to oversee horse racing, at the behest of Mitch McConnell.

There’s no question about it: This pandemic has both revealed and exacerbated our already staggering economic inequality.

Republicans didn’t blink twice when they handed out $6.3 billion in tax breaks to their wealthy corporate backers, but when it came to getting direct relief to struggling Americans $600 was the best they could do. Their priorities couldn’t be clearer.

Robert Reich

Robert Reich

Robert Reich, is the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. His book include:  "Aftershock" (2011), "The Work of Nations" (1992), "Beyond Outrage" (2012) and, "Saving Capitalism" (2016). He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, former chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." Reich's newest book is "The Common Good" (2019). He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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