Americans are united against corporate greed — Biden should join the cause
The tea leaves aren’t hard to read. If Biden looks closely and thinks critically, the real division in America isn’t between American voters; it’s between Americans across the political spectrum and the corporate executives who have worked against them for decades.
A recent Quinnipiac poll found that nearly seven out of 10 Americans favor Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion relief bill and 78 percent of Americans are in favor of $1,400 relief checks.
Yahoo/YouGov polling revealed similar public support, with 74 percent of Americans backing $2,000 relief checks. The same poll found that 58 percent of Americans support increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
CBS News also discovered through their poll that a large bipartisan majority favor passing still more rounds of coronavirus relief. In fact, a large percentage of respondents — 40 percent — do not believe that Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief proposal goes far enough in responding to the financial ruin tens of millions of Americans have experienced during the crisis.
For a president who campaigned on the importance of uniting the country, Biden should feel sufficiently emboldened to aggressively push his proposal through as Americans anxiously await financial assistance. With Democrats holding slim majorities in the House and Senate, there are no acceptable excuses.
But unfortunately, while congressional lawmakers and the media were focused on former president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, Biden hosted corporate executives at the White House to discuss the upcoming relief package.
The gathering included a who’s who of America’s austerity fan club: JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon, Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison and U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue.
The alleged purpose of the meeting was to “build support” for Biden’s proposal. Even if one were to take the stated objective at face value, it’s a fool’s errand to think that the business community would ever point Biden in the right direction.
For example, one week before Biden met with Ellison, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to congressional lawmakers and the White House urging them to implement stricter means testing, which severely limits the number of Americans who would qualify for the one-time $1,400 relief check.
“Congress should consider targeting any additional stimulus checks based on income, loss of employment, or similar criteria,” the Chamber argued.
Taking this advice would be a massive mistake. The “targeting” would rely on income data disclosed in 2019 tax filings, which was before the pandemic even hit. Most Americans haven’t filed their 2020 taxes yet. Also, Census Bureau data found that 45 percent of households earning between $50,000 and $150,000 have lost employment income since March 2020. 48 percent of households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 reported similar hardships.
If Biden succumbs to the wishes of the corporate elite and Senate Republicans by applying more means testing, nearly 40 million Americans who received the $600 relief checks under Trump could be denied checks or only see partial payments, according to economist Claudia Sahm. In other words, Biden and the Democratic party would be committing political suicide.
The Chamber’s letter also expressed displeasure about Biden’s proposal to extend $400 per week unemployment benefits through September. If you thought means testing one-time relief checks was ridiculous, get a load of what the business community wants to do with unemployment:
“Congress should also replace the $300 flat weekly supplement with an individually calculated supplement of up to $300 that ensures that no individual receives more on unemployment than they were paid while working,” they wrote. “Increasing the flat weekly benefit to $400 results in approximately 40 percent of unemployed individuals receiving more in benefits than they earned working. This distorts the labor market and deters individuals from returning to work.”
Stop and think about how pathetic this argument is. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce shamelessly and transparently admits that they’re unwilling to compete with the scraps thrown to the American people by the federal government and refuse to increase the starvation wages they pay their workers — 25 percent of whom earn less than $1,200 a month based on the Chamber’s own analysis.
Biden entertaining the thoughts of fabulously wealthy chief executives, which only delays the passing of relief that tens of millions of Americans need right now, is egregious and unacceptable. The Democratic party can’t expect to win future elections by simply engaging in the culture war.
If Biden fails to appropriately respond to this moment of economic crisis, he will pave the way for another Trump-like demagogue who will direct Americans’ rage toward immigrants and minorities.
Ana Kasparian is a host and executive producer of The Young Turks on TYT.