by Ian Stern
The bi-partisan agreement to move to a vote the $2 trillion bailout signals to the nation, loud and clear, that we have one corporate-capitalist party. According to Reuters, two waves of $1,200 checks will be sent to individuals earning up to $75,000/year, constituting $500 billion of the package. That is the same amount proposed to go to “distressed industries” for “liquidity assistance.” These distressed industries, such as the airline and fossil fuel industries, have plenty of assets against which they can borrow to stay financially solvent. As it is, they can receive rock-bottom interest rates from the Federal Reserve. But they are greedy; they want the money for free. More appallingly, they continue to lay off their employees and lobby against regulation and even have gone so far as to lobby the federal government to cut funding for the Black Lung Program.
The stimulus package that both Democrats and Republicans signed off on, includes only $130 billion for hospitals, roughly a quarter of what is being given to the distressed industries. Given the lack of available tests for COVID-19, available ventilators and insufficient hospital capacities, one might think that the medical industry is currently the most distressed.
Knowing on which side their bread is buttered (and it isn’t those who voted for them), the Democratic party has not pushed for any significant, progressive change in this stimulus package. If the tax-payers are to bailout the oil and air travel corporations, we ought to see them nationalized. While a step has been taken in the right direction to halt evictions and foreclosures, rent and mortgage payments should also be paused. The current plan of sending two waves of $1,200 checks is insufficient to help Americans who are out of work, paying a mortgage/rent, feeding their children, etc. Parents are already skipping meals in order to have enough food to make it through the month for their children.
Meanwhile, members of the Republican party are beginning to espouse the idea that the restarting the economy is more important than containing and overcoming the corona virus disease. On Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick suggested senior citizens ought to sacrifice themselves for the economy to maintain its ever-expanding growth, and that the recession caused by the novel corona virus could be a fate worse than death. This is the rhetoric of capitalism.
The ideology of the primacy of the market is oozing from this stimulus package and the rhetoric being used by Republicans. The proposed stimulus only proves Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words true, “We have socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the poor.”