Since the start of the pandemic, Medicaid, the federal and state program to provide health insurance to low income Americans, has been far more generous than in the past. Enrollment is higher than ever, at 77.8 million. This isn’t because of some nationwide change of heart in state governments; it’s because states were paid to stop cutting people from their Medicaid rolls. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the first coronavirus relief bill passed in March 2020, states received a 6.2 percent boost in federal Medicaid funding in exchange for halting disenrollments. The usual process of conducting “redeterminations,” in which states redetermine whether a beneficiary’s income levels or other factors still qualify them for Medicaid, has been paused for almost two years.
Nearly 200 corporate landlords received $320 million in federal pandemic-related assistance only to turn around and file more than 5,380 evictions between mid-March and mid-October of last year, recklessly displacing thousands of impoverished Americans in the midst of a public health and economic emergency. That's according to Taxpayer Subsidized Evictions: Corporate Landlords Pocket Federal Sweetheart Deals, Subsidies, and Tax Breaks While Evicting Struggling Families, a newreport(pdf) published Tuesday by the Jobs With Justice Education Fund and the Private Equity Stakeholder Project.
A city pandemic loan program intended to help out small businesses in lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color has left out a swath of Manhattan's Chinatown. In late November, the city's Department of Small Business Services launched a $35 million low-to-moderate income storefront loan program. Small businesses in certain neighborhoods could receive up to $100,000 in a zero-interest loan. The funds would provide loans for at least 350 businesses across the city, depending on the size of loans allocated. To qualify, businesses need to have fewer than 100 employees and be located in a low- to moderate-income ZIP code. But not all of Chinatown—a "hard-hit" neighborhood that was reeling from economic impacts from COVID-19 even before the city became the epicenter of the pandemic—was included.
The first and worst failure to do a damn thing for the working class was the multi-trillion-dollar corporate bailout of the CARES Act. If you walk into the first bargaining session with the bosses and give them everything they want, throw a few scraps to the workers, and agree to come back to the table later — you have surrendered all leverage and sold out. Why would the billionaires and their faithful servants in government agree to anything more? Most government services are provided at the state and local levels. Once the CARES Act showered trillions on the corporations and starved the states and cities, it could only trigger a cascade of cutbacks and austerity measures.
The coronavirus pandemic has thrown millions of Americans out of work — and over the past nine months, up to 20 million have filed for unemployment. Supplemental federal unemployment benefits of $600 per week — a lifeline for many — expired in July and more are set to go away at the end of the year if Congress doesn't act. But beyond the economic consequences, not having that financial safety net can lead to serious health problems for those affected, according to new research. Dr. Seth Berkowitz, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine who co-authored some of that research, says that in extreme cases, it may even contribute to deaths that are not directly caused by the coronavirus itself.
Last week the US Treasury and the US Federal Reserve Bank engaged in a rare public disagreement. US Treasury Secretary, Mnuchin, in a letter to Jerome Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve, last week directed the Fed to return $455 billion that the Fed was holding in reserve should future lending to banks and non-bank businesses become necessary if the US economy and markets further deteriorate in 2021. Fed chair Powell initially balked at Mnuchin’s request, replying that the Fed needed the funds to ensure market stability since the US economy was entering a “difficult period” in late 2020 and early 2021.
Ahmad Ghabboun broke into a sweat. It was a late night in August and he had just discovered an unexpected $14,990 debt posted to the online portal he uses to access his account with Washington state’s unemployment agency. Since May, he had been receiving payments every week through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, newly established by Congress to support freelancers like him. The benefits replaced the paycheck he could no longer earn after the pandemic had grounded his work delivering packages for Amazon Flex and driving the occasional shift for Uber.
Last week, Thomas Root emailed his weekly legal newsletter from his office in Ohio to nearly 11,000 federal prisoners around the country — just as he’s done every Monday since 2015. That same day, attorney Brandon Sample in Vermont fired off his own weekly legal updates to more than 6,700 federal prisoners — as he’s done for three years. Within days, the men were flooded with rejection emails declaring that the Federal Bureau of Prisons had abruptly banned their newsletters, saying they were “detrimental to the security, good order, or discipline of the facility, or might facilitate criminal activity.”
For months incarcerated people and their families heard conflicting messages about whether they were eligible to receive the pandemic stimulus payments provided by Congress as the Trump administration attempted to block prisoners from receiving their checks. Last week a federal judge slammed the administration with an order to provide the stimulus relief, and now advocates across the country are working to ensure low-income people caged in state and federal prisons can apply for the much-needed federal aid as deadlines loom.
The first time she remembers protesting in the region, about 10 years ago, Tara Maxwell was outside the Virginia home of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. His wife Virginia, the target of Maxwell’s ire that day, is a prominent right-wing lobbyist and current adviser to President Donald Trump’s administration. “If I can protest at Clarence Thomas’ house, I can protest at anybody’s house,” Maxwell says dryly. “It doesn't bother me.” So when Maxwell, an independent contractor with experience in law enforcement and political consulting, moved into the Park 7 Apartments on Minnesota Avenue NE last August, she was not afraid to raise hell over problems with her living conditions.
Members of Congress obtained disaster loans for their businesses through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The program has been embroiled in controversy since it launched in March. Large corporations received multimillion-dollar loans. Minority-owned businesses were shut out of aid. Seventy-four members of Congress own businesses or have relatives or spouses who own businesses. Of this number, only 14 of them responded to repeated inquiries stating that they did not apply for federal loans, including those with considerable wealth. The CARES Act does contain a conflict of interest provision prohibiting members of Congress or their immediate families from receiving aid. However, as detailed in a House Ethics Committee memorandum released in April, this clause is only restricted to emergency relief funds. This subtle loophole has permitted lawmakers to circumvent potential conflicts of interest and access government relief.
The law, also known as the CARES Act, directs the Department of the Treasury to distribute the $8 billion to tribal governments "not later than 30 days" after its enactment. The deadline has come and gone even as outcry over the Trump administration's failure to release the funds grows in Indian Country." Indian Country is tired of waiting for the administration to follow the law by delivering pandemic aid to our communities and our people," President Bryan Newland of the Bay Mills Indian Community said on Monday, more than a week after the CARES Act deadline passed." Our lives and our livelihoods are at stake," said Newland, citing the growing number of COVID-19 cases in tribal communities, some of which have been disproportionately affected by the deadly disease."
Just think of when, in the debates with Bernie, Sanders during the spring, you had Biden, and Klobuchar keep saying, ‘What we’re paying for Medicare-for-All will be $1 trillion over 10 years.’ Well here the Fed can create $1.5 trillion in one week just to buy stocks. Why is it okay for the Fed to create $1.5 trillion to buy stocks to prevent rich people from losing on their stocks, when it’s not okay to print only $1 trillion to pay for free Medicare for the entire population? This is crazy! The idea that only the rich should be allowed to print money for themselves, but the government should not be allowed to print money for any public purpose, any social purpose — not for medicine, not for schools, not for personal budgets, not for full employment — but only to give to the 1 percent. People hesitate to think that.
Washington, DC — A coalition of 68 farmer, environmental, and antitrust groups across the country sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin today, urging the U.S. Department of the Treasury to ensure that pandemic relief funds do not lead to further consolidation of the food and agriculture industry. The letter urges Secretary Mnuchin to instead invest stimulus funds into farming systems that lift up farmers and rural communities while providing opportunities for diverse, sustainable agriculture systems to thrive. The letter argues that the current food system under the control of a few major corporate players is unsustainable — a reality that the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law late March, provides over $2 trillion in funds to help individuals and businesses weather the economic challenges stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.