This report was written by David Sirota, Walker Bragman and Andrew Perez
As the fight to provide one-time $2,000 survival checks crescendos in Washington, it can be difficult to grasp the size of the figures being thrown around. Can our country afford the proposal? Is the cost worth it?
Let’s look at the economic and social devastation unfolding throughout the country. Even before the pandemic, 40 percent of Americans were struggling to afford at least one basic necessity and a stunning 78 percent of full-time workers were living paycheck-to-paycheck according to figures from 2017. Half a million people were counted as homeless in 2018 alone.
The pandemic has made things worse: In the spring, 22 million jobs were lost which could take as long as four years to recover without significant relief. As of June, roughly 14 million workers and their dependents had lost employer-based health insurance. The number of Americans impacted by food insecurity is now projected to hit 54 million — up from 35 million pre-pandemic. More than 14 million American households are at risk of eviction and more than 336,000 Americans have died from the virus.
One in ten adults — and one in four young adults — have considered suicide in the last year, and violent crime has risen across the country. One recent study warned that the pandemic was creating fertile ground for terrorist recruitment by inspiring “angst” in millions of people and incapacitating “major functions and institutions of world’s societies.”
So, with all of this in mind, can the world’s richest nation afford one-time $2,000 survival checks? Should Congress filibuster the defense bill for as long as it takes to force Mitch McConnell to allow a vote on the aid? Is there a double standard at play when it comes to government largesse for rich people and support for everyone else? Are $2,000 checks good policy? Is Congress even listening to the public?
Read these ten stats and then you decide.
1. The total cost of $2,000 checks ($465 billion) is less than half the amount that American billionaires have made during the pandemic ($1 trillion). The total cost of the checks is less than the amount that just 16 American billionaires increased their net worth by during the pandemic ($471 billion).
2. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk gained more wealth during the pandemic ($158 billion) than Congress just authorized for additional unemployment benefits for millions of Americans ($120 billion).
3. Jeff Bezos’s personal wealth increased more every second of 2020 ($2,800) than Congress is considering giving Americans who are facing eviction, starvation and bankruptcy ($2,000).
4. Congressional lawmakers are being paid $3,300 of government money every week to come up with ways to block $2,000 checks to millions of Americans.
5. It took Congress less than a month to pass legislation giving a $700 billion bailout to bank executives during the financial crisis. It has taken Congress more than 8 months to even seriously consider a far less expensive bill to give $2,000 checks to millions of Americans during this economic crisis.
6. A $2,000 survival check would give the average soldier more money than the proposed 3 percent military pay increase that is included in defense legislation that Sens. Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey are filibustering in order to force a vote on the survival checks.
7. The richest 5 percent of Americans received more in Trump tax cuts in 2020 ($145 billion) than Congress is spending on increased unemployment benefits for millions of Americans during the economic crisis ($120 billion).
8. In 2016, “children, elderly, disabled people, and students made up around 70 percent of the poor,” according to the People’s Policy Project. Unlike unemployment benefits, $2,000 checks would help them.
9. About 60 percent of Georgia households make less than $75,000, meaning Georgia Republican senators allowing $2,000 checks to be blocked would deny aid to roughly 2 million of their state’s households as they run for reelection.
10. As Republicans try to block the $2,000 check legislation, a new national survey found that 78 percent of Americans support it, even as some pundits insist that the proposal is “divisive.”
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