For months, Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. fought over a new Covid 19 aid package. The agreement came at the last minute. The result: completely inadequate.
It is one of the sad continuities of U.S. politics that the social interests of the U.S. population often take only a secondary role in Washington politics. Despite the 10.7 million unemployed, the nearly ten million people who have lost their health insurance because of a job loss, and the up to 14 million tenants threatened with eviction in the midst of the Covid crisis, Congress and the White House were unable to agree on another aid package for months.
The country is suffering. Donald Trump is barely performing his duties and Joe Biden seems to be busy putting together his cabinet. Meanwhile, citizens could watch Democrats and Republicans in Congress blame each other for the continued lack of much-needed aid for the population. A large part of the people, whose trust in the country’s political institutions has already been destroyed, are likely to see their disgust with the skirmish in Washington confirmed.
The fact that an agreement on a new Covid aid package was finally reached on Sunday should not diminish this feeling. Because this agreement is a joke. Congress wants to make just under $900 billion available – among other things, for cash-strapped citizens, small businesses and key industries.
Among the few laudable components of the new aid package is an extension of the eviction freeze for indebted tenants. But other aid is inadequate. Instead of $1,200 in emergency aid, as was available in the last aid package in March, there are only $600 checks for U.S. citizens.
Savings have also been made in federal unemployment benefits. Instead of $600 as in the spring, there will be only $300 in additional unemployment benefits per week. What sounds like a lot of money is a ridiculously small amount in view of the high cost of living in the USA. In the industrial city of Cleveland, for example, the average cost of living for a family of four is more than $1,500 a week, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute.
Moreover, according to information from the New York Times, the additional aid will only last for eleven weeks. An inoculation of the U.S. society and the associated return to any kind of normality as well as recovery of the labor market is almost impossible in this short period of time. In March, many people are therefore likely to be threatened again by the loss of state benefits and financial bottlenecks. Mass poverty could once again occur. When the short-term increased unemployment benefits of the first aid package expired in the summer, almost eight million people fell below the poverty line within five months.
by Jeremy Abbott – American Correspondent