How Did We Go From Stimulus Checks to “Go to Work With COVID”?

In the early days, Democrats criticized Donald Trump for not doing enough in order to allow people to remain at home during the pandemic. “Flatten the curve” was the phrase of the month, and even centrist Democrats found their inner democratic socialist, at least temporarily. They argued for regular monthly payments to Americans at the time and other pro-labor, working-class programs. The Biden administration is still struggling to agreeInternally, they are deciding whether N95 masks of high quality should be sent to everyone. (To their limited credit) They ultimately decidedIt would be a great idea.

In May 2020 Sen. Kamala Harris will be vice president joinedSenators Bernie Sanders (Senator) and Ed Markey (Senator) called for $2,000 monthly payments to Americans with incomes below $120,000 per annum. Their plan also included additional money for parents. Senators Ron Wyden, and Michael Bennet were elected one year later. introducedA bold bill that would have modernized nationwide unemployment insurance assistance would be introduced. Their proposal would have extended benefits for a longer period of time, expanded the beneficiaries pool to include gig workers, and increased weekly payment.

Despite the fact that most indicators of public health are worse now than they were during the pandemic, this rhetoric is no longer in use. Some lawmakers have reportedlyWe have been discussing another round in stimulus spending for small business owners who own restaurants and gyms. These businesses are especially vulnerable to the COVID-induced slowdown. These talks appear to have stalled, however, and it’s worth underlining that the economic aid would go to business owners rather than workers.

According to limited reports, the Biden administration seems hostile to the idea to renew direct payments to Americans rather than routing any future aid through employers. “[T]he economy is booming, there are millions of open jobs, and we do not believe people should be sitting at home if they are vaccinated and boosted, as most adults are,” a senior Biden official told CNN earlier this month. “So we are not going to write checks to incentivize people to sit at home.” (A recent petitionMore than 3,000,000 people have signed a petition calling for recurring direct payment.

It’s true that in March 2021, President Joe Biden signedThe American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 Trillion spending bill, included $1,400 in one-time checks to most Americans. There were 10 Senate Democrats at the time. calledDirect payments should be made permanent by the Biden administration for the duration the pandemic. The plan also includedIncreasing allocations for food stamps, and rental assistance for families with low incomes. Most importantly, the act reconfiguredThe child tax credit was designed to allow parents to receive monthly checks of $250 per child or $300 per month, instead of waiting for their tax returns. The child tax credit is undoubtedly one of the most important anti poverty programs in our generation. expiredDecember. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin joined all Senate Republicans in opposing the program’s extension.

Federal unemployment assistance endedIn September 2021, conservatives from both parties claimed that the increased payments were encouraging workers to not seek employment. According to a study, states that ended federal assistance experienced roughly the same job growth than states that kept the program. Wall Street Journal analysis. “Economists who have conducted their own analyses of the government data say the rates of job growth in states that ended and states that maintained the benefits are, from a statistical perspective, about the same,” the WSJ reported.

As Biden enters the second year of his term, Democrats are clear that additional financial support will not be forthcoming despite the increase in COVID caseloads since December’s emergence Omicron variant. The United States brokeThis week, the nation’s pandemic hospitalization record was broken with more than 142,000 COVID-infected patients expected to be admitted. Experts are warningThat number could increase to more than twice, possibly reaching 300,000.

The lack of another round of survival checks or unemployment boosts means that people can’t afford to stay home, even though that would help slow the spread and ease the strain on hospitals and urgent care clinics. Though it’s difficult to get a full picture of how many employers are forcing COVID-positive workers back into the workplace, every day brings new mounting evidence that the practice is becoming increasingly normalized and widespread.

This trend is particularly alarming in hospitals, where at least some appear to be encouraging nurses and doctors to continue working regardless of their COVID status. A New Jersey nurse was recently told to come in “despite concerns that she had contracted Covid-19,” according to Politico. The same report also found that “[h]ealth care workers around the country have reported that they are being called in to work even if they suspect they are infectious.” New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelinesDecember issued permits health care providers to return work after five days rather than 10 days, even if they have not tested negative. Rhode Island has a hospitalFive COVID-positive, symptomatic staff members were asked to come to work. The facility reported that it had experienced an outbreak a few days later. However, a spokesperson stated that the increase in cases was not related.

Red Lobster workers have been forced into work when they’re sick. This is almost certain to be a microcosmof the private sector in general. accordingSubscribe to the newsletter Popular Information. One employee said he faced “threats” from management after asking to stay home when he developed COVID symptoms. Some teachersNew York City has seen a similar trend. Students have been forced into classrooms despite having tested positive for COVID. Restaurant workers have been forced into the classroom for years. expected to work while sick or injured, a trend that hasn’t abated during the pandemic.

For all the talk of “The Great Resignation” — that is, working people quitting their jobs for better-paying employment — the reality is that the working class in the U.S. is still struggling to make ends meet. COVID federal assistance programs were effective in reducing poverty in the U.S., and many families were able build savings for the very first time. That so-called “excess saving” had evaporatedMany families by the end 2021. One particularly grim recent example studySurvey respondents at Kroger, the supermarket giant, were found to have experienced homelessness in the last year.

The entire political establishment is now in agreement that there will be little or no additional assistance. New York State renters face an array of problems. expiringMooratorium on evictions Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, spoke out against the Chicago Teachers Union’s calls for a safer workplace. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky downplayed the risk Omicron poses, saying it was “encouraging news” that people who have died from the variant had at least four comorbidities.

The only urgency we’re seeing at the federal level is the urgency of continuing to sacrifice the working class on the altar of economic growth. For many policymakers, learning to live and deal with the virus means learning how to live with unnecessary death and suffering. Direct, predictable payments could solve that, but at this point, that’s as hard to imagine as the pandemic ever coming to an end under the prevailing political conditions.