Jan 4, 2021
Members of Congress took a lot of credit for passing the $908‑billion COVID‑19 relief package in late December, claiming it provides much needed income to those most in need.
But the payouts in the relief package to working people are extremely small. Both the 600 dollar stimulus check and the 11 weeks of enhanced unemployment benefits at 300 dollars a week are half the size of the CARES Act that Congress passed last March. So workers are getting much less and for a much shorter period of time (much later than they needed it).
Adding insult to injury, 14 million workers were forced to go without any benefits for a full week because Trump didn’t sign the bill until their unemployment benefits had already run out and Congress did nothing to make up the difference.
Neither does the COVID relief package stem the rising tide of layoffs and worsening unemployment, since it provides almost no funding to state and local governments that have already cut more than 1.3 million jobs since February, including teachers, public health employees, and firefighters. So, millions more of the very essential workers the entire society depends on continue to be in danger of losing their jobs.
It is no accident that Congress has done little or nothing to stop the worsening crisis to slowly squeeze the working class. Congress is merely aiding big business and the capitalist class to take advantage of the crisis facing the working class by lowering what businesses pay workers, and thus increase their profits and wealth at the expense of the entire working class. Government officials do this as well in order to cut what they pay their workforce in wages and benefits.
Contrary to what Congress and the news media advertise, most of the money contained in the COVID relief package doesn’t go to those hardest hit by the crisis ... but the capitalist class and big business. As the New York Times (December 22, 2020) exposed in an article entitled, “Buried in Pandemic Aid Bill: Billions to Soothe the Richest,” tucked away in the spending bill that Congress passed is a single tax break for big business and the wealthy worth 200 billion dollars in a single year. There are dozens of other tax breaks that are worth tens of billions of dollars more to different business sectors that Congress passed at the same time.
Besides that, there are 325 billion dollars in new loans that the Federal government plans on handing out to businesses, most of which big business will never have to pay back.
“High‑income business owners have had tax benefits and unprecedented government grants showered down upon them. And the scale is massive,” said Adam Looney, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former Treasury Department tax official in the Obama administration.
No, the only real “relief” in the COVID relief package is aimed at benefitting the capitalist class.
This is no different from the CARES Act that Congress hastily put together last spring after the pandemic first hit, just as employment and the entire economy spiraled into a stark and brutal free fall. Even though Congress and the news media advertised the CARES Act as much needed relief for the poor and working population, only one-fifth of the four trillion dollars that Congress budgeted constituted relief for workers and their families. Twice as much went to big companies and the very richest people in the country. “An avalanche of U.S. grants and loans helped the wealthy and companies that laid off workers,” wrote the Washington Post (October 5).
Is it any wonder that the richest people in the country have seen their fortunes increase by trillions of dollars, while big parts of the working population sink into worsening poverty and despair?