COVID-19 Stimulus Bill is a Betrayal of the American People: An Op-Ed

Patrick Kissel, Reporter

COVID-19 has quickly turned life on its head all across the world, with schools being closed, stay at home orders being issued, record unemployment applications, large stock market drops, overflowing hospitals and a whole host of other consequences that have only appeared in the past few weeks.

In response to the economic collapse, hospital overflow and record unemployment, Congress passed the first COVID-19 stimulus package, but this stimulus package, which was supposed to help American workers survive through the economic depression the country has already entered, and the Great Depression like unemployment forecast in the near future, was instead designed as an even larger version of the bailout package from the Great Recession of 2008, and instead of preventing the economic collapse the bill will only increase America’s record income inequality and will only exacerbate the economic crisis as citizens get no relief as the economic situation deteriorates.

This disastrous bill was a betrayal of the American people by Congress. Every single senator voted for a bailout of corporations, giving bailouts to industries without leveraging anything from them to protect workers in the future. While individual Americans only get a single $1,200 dollar check, which they can only get after passing the means testing Congress put on the money, industries like cruise lines, airlines and massive corporations who clearly do not need a bailout were prioritized. 

The American people got crumbs while businesses get millions — looting the American treasury, filled by the American taxpayer, without giving an inch to the government. There is nothing like the General Motors bailout from under Obama where the government got a share of the stock. There are no restrictions to prevent stock buybacks like what corporations did with the funds they received from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. There is no new agreements to force companies to support their workers through the crisis by paying wages, except for the single line waiving any loans that companies take if they do not fire employees, but that restriction only applies for four months and is riddled with loopholes. In short, corporations get billions from the American worker’s pockets via the taxes Americans pay into the government’s treasury.

Other countries are paying most or all of the wages workers lose due to COVID-19, like the United Kingdom and Canada. While in America those who get COVID-19 have to pay for the treatment, most other countries in the world already have universal healthcare, removing the cost of COVID-19, or subsequent respiratory effects entirely as one of the worries of their citizens. Here, politicians are bragging they leveraged healthcare companies to pay for most COVID-19 tests, though even that promise has loopholes that are being exploited on American citizens’ dimes. 

This bill exposes the corruption of representatives if Congress, even progressive leaders like senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who all voted for the legislation instead of fighting to prevent the largest bailout of corporations since at least the Great Recession while average Americans continue to get nothing, like they didn’t in 2008, which will only exacerbate the economic collapse. This will mean that on the other side of this virus when the world reopens all of the problems that occurred after 2008, like massive evictions, and bankruptcies, will once again occur — except even worse.

This virus has exposed a whole host of failures in the political and bureaucratic systems of the United States, and this bill is the best example of that by showing how the Congress is no longer accountable to American voters, but instead accountable to corporations, and rich campaign donors. Congress must remedy this bill in order to save even a shred of their credibility, but this bill will forever be a stain on the record of those who voted for it, just as the bailout legislations of 2008 is a stain on many of their records today.