As another week of obstinance on the Hill draws to a close, senators and congresspeople alike are making plans to skip town for vacation — leaving struggling Americans to fend for themselves amidst the rubble of stalemate and uncertainty – they are left wondering when, if at all, they will receive the further unemployment benefits, stimulus payments, childcare, and other crucial assistance they need to survive the ongoing public health and economic crises.
Here’s a look back at a shaky week in congressional talks and what it means for everyday Americans trying to stay above water:
Trump’s Failure to Face Reality of Admin’s Failed COVID-19 Response The Unique U.S. Failure to Control the Virus. “Slowing the coronavirus has been especially difficult for the United States because of its tradition of prioritizing individualism and missteps by the Trump administration.” [NYTimes, 8/7]
Trump: Coronavirus is “under control.” “’They are dying, that’s true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague,’ he told Axios’ Jonathan Swan.” [AXIOS, 8/4]
Severe Unemployment and Looming Evictions with No Benefits in Sight
The future is grim for millions of Americans who face further layoffs, terminations, and evictions without legislative aid.
Laid-off workers endure loss of $600 aid calling it a ‘nightmare.’ “Around the country, across industries and occupations, millions of Americans thrown out of work because of the coronavirus are straining to afford the basics now that an extra $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits has expired.” [PBS, 8/7]
Nearly one third of people that have gone back to work after being laid off during the coronavirus pandemic have lost their jobs again, study finds. “Thus, nearly 3 out of 5 re-payrolled workers are either again out of work or fear being so” [Business Insider, 8/6]
Wave of evictions expected as moratoriums end in many states. “Experts predict the problem will only get worse in the coming weeks, with 30 million unemployed and uncertainty whether Congress will extend the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits that expired Friday. The federal eviction moratorium that protects more than 12 million renters living in federally subsidized apartments or units with federally backed mortgages expired July 25. If it’s not extended, landlords can initiate eviction proceedings in 30 days.” [AP, 8/4]
Small Businesses Continue to Suffer
Small businesses, especially those in majority-Black congressional districts, continue to struggle as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) expires without a deal in sight to secure additional relief.
Black-owned companies are shutting down twice as fast as other businesses. “A new Fed report estimates that 41% of Black-owned businesses across the country shut down between February and April, echoing the findings of a similar University of California, Santa Cruz study released in June. About 32% of Latino businesses and 26% of Asian businesses shut down over the same time span. Only about 17% of white businesses shut down during the same period, the study authors found.” [CNN, 8/4]
Failure to pass new small-business aid will fuel ‘a wave of permanent closures. “Small businesses need more aid from Congress to avoid permanent closures and severe labor market pain, a group of more than 100 CEOs wrote in a Monday letter to lawmakers.” [Business Insider, 8/3]
With Three Days Left Until PPP Expires, Still No Relief for Black-owned Businesses. “With only three days left before Trump’s Paycheck Protection Program is set to expire, Congress has yet to put forth a relief bill that includes enhanced transparency measures to combat the abuse, fraud, and failures of the program’s first iteration.” [Accountable.US, 8/5]
All of this is happening alongside the Trump administration bailing out a charter jet firm that helps deport migrants:
“According to data released by the Treasury Department last month, Classic Air received a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program worth between $150,000 and $350,000. The loan helped the company retain 18 jobs, according to Treasury records. Omni Air also got a PPP loan worth between $350,000 and $1 million.” [Daily Beast, 8/4]
Back to School Season Intensifies Fears
Schools is in session — and with it comes new fears of mass infections.
This Year’s Must-Have Back-to-School Item: Masks for Children. “But this year, amid a pandemic that has school officials agonizing over how and whether to safely reopen, masks are appearing among the glue sticks and glitter as essential back-to-school items.” [NYTimes, 8/6]
Some Iowa teachers wrote their own obituaries because they’re scared of their governor’s school reopening plan. “On Tuesday, Gov. Reynolds said that school districts that hold online-only instruction without authorization would be defying state law and that those days would not be counted as instructional days.” [CNN, 8/6]
Trump advocates for school reopenings: ‘This thing is going away.’ “’My view is the schools should open. This thing is going away,’ Trump said on “Fox & Friends” in a phone interview Wednesday morning, referring to the coronavirus. ‘It will go away like things go away and my view is that schools should be open.’” [The Hill, 8/5]
An All-Too-Familiar Headline: Federal Aid Benefits the Already-Rich
The Trump administration and White House continue their drumbeat of benefiting lobbyists, donors, and the ultra-wealthy while leaving behind Americans that need aid the most.
How the PPP Loans Favored the Historically Advantaged. “This systemic corruption fuels ineffectiveness in government and inequity in society. It makes government prone to fraud, waste, cronyism, discrimination, misinformation, secrecy, and the silencing of dissent.” [Project on Government Oversight, 8/7]
How billionaires got $637 billion richer during the coronavirus pandemic. “40 million Americans filed for unemployment during the pandemic, but billionaires saw their net worth increase by half a trillion dollars… This isn’t the first time billionaires have seen gains while others dealt with loss, and it tends to tie back to two things. First, the government disproportionately gives more aid to larger companies… Then, when the stock market bounces back, the unequal bailouts mean that the wealthy still have money on hand to invest and thus profit, while the middle and lower classes do not… Wealth-friendly tax laws and loopholes then keep those billionaires at the top. Knowing all of this, some are advocating for policies to help level the playing field and create change.” [Business Insider, 8/4]