As if 2021 was not off to an odd enough start with a guy dressed up like he was going to the Buffalo Lodge with Fred Flintstone standing on the dais in the Capitol, now I have to report something that I never thought I would say: “AOC may be right.” In the past few days, the Twitter battle between President-Elect Joe Biden and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (which is one of the only battles we can watch on Twitter because their CEO is purging conservatives) exploded over the issue of back pay in unemployment.
The Elephant in the Room
Enhanced unemployment is a sticky issue around the country. Many are opposed to people getting extra money, especially people who did not pay into the system. On the other hand, Washington is starting to wake up to the idea that this is their mess, they created it. By shutting down businesses and the nation for a disease that was significantly less fatal than first thought (it still is a deadly disease; wash your hands and wear your mask), the government plunged many people – who were barely making ends meet because of extremely high rent rates and high taxes for the impoverished -deeper into debt as they lost their jobs.
The initial stimulus payment helped, but not much. For most people, it was three trips to the grocery or a month’s rent and many had to choose between the two. The enhanced unemployment helped, but with its end in July, many people across the country were left hanging.
Bread and Circuses
Liberal governors across the country tried to make things better by giving an extra $100 for as long as they could in addition to President Trump’s remedial $300 enhancement for three weeks. To their credit, both the state governments and the President did what they could. However, the politicking by Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Mitch McConnell allowed these payments to lapse from the federal side. From the state side, many of the states who most needed the aid were already close to bankruptcy, so the payments were short or never came at all.
In response, we got back the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, and a very short MLB season. As cities burned, we were expected to watch millionaires play with balls on a well-kept field where canned cheers, a pale shadow of the people who kept the sports alive for years, were piped into the stadiums as a reminder. Not so much a reminder that the game was happening, but as a reminder that we were good little minions and sitting at home, watching the games and commercials, so that the players could make millions of dollars.
Even my spell checker does not like me typing this but, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a point. Remedial unemployment enhancement and the
$2000, I mean $1400, checks will only put a dent in the credit card and rent bills people have built up. People, through no fault of their own were stripped from their jobs by their own governments. 14 days became a year, and now we have people who are suffering.
If Congress approves Joe Biden’s pork-filled bill, there needs to be a little bacon for the American people. Let the people have retroactive pay for the time they were off. Whether it is $400 or $600 (hopefully not the $1,000 some Congress members are calling for), it will give people the ability to pay back the rent that is owed. It will allow landlords and other companies to pay their workers. This alone could help reduce the debt bubble that is forming, not only with our international debt but with our domestic debt. While I support fiscal conservatism, I also support keeping people in their homes. AOC’s plan does this, and we need to pay attention to it.
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