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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/22/20

As the oligarchs make trillions, Congress offers a pittance for the jobless

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Message Patrick Martin

From WSWS

Food Line for jobless, homeless
Food Line for jobless, homeless
(Image by 316th ESC from flickr)
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The most important fact about the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill that was adopted by the US Congress Monday night is that it is grossly inadequate to meet the vast social needs exposed by the pandemic. Once again, the corporate-controlled two-party political system has revealed its indifference to mass suffering.

Millions of workers thrown out of their jobs by the coronavirus pandemic last spring were cut off federal supplemental unemployment benefits of $600 a week on July 31, under provisions of the CARES Act adopted near-unanimously by Democrats and Republicans in Congress. This cutoff was carried out to enforce the back-to-work drive by big business, which demanded that workers return to their jobs producing profits for the capitalists, regardless of the COVID-19 threat to their health and lives.

While workers were forced back to factories and workplaces, there are 10 million fewer jobs today than at the start of the year. Now, after nearly five months of no benefits, which have wiped out their savings, driven them into poverty and put many in danger of homelessness, long-term unemployed workers will receive $300 a week, limited to 11 weeks, expiring by the middle of March. This pitiful sum will barely keep food on the table, let alone pay the bills that have accumulated since the summer.

Added to that is the $600-per-person one-time check to be sent out to most working people, as well as their children -- half the $1,200 checks that were issued by the Treasury last spring and less than the average rent in most American cities. The sum total of these checks, $166 billion, is less than the $190 billion that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk have gained between them since March.

Two billionaires have added more to their personal wealth than the US government sees fit to pay out to all working people in the country, combined, in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. What a demonstration of the fact that America is a dictatorship of, by and for the billionaires! And to this class reality must be added the fact that Bezos and Musk have enriched themselves from a social catastrophe, a pandemic that has killed 320,000 Americans and 1.7 million people around the world.

 

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Patrick Martin writes for the World Socialist Website (wsws.org), a forum for socialist ideas & analysis & published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI).
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