ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – For a two-bedroom apartment in Orange County, Florida, residents are looking at an average monthly rent of $1,190, which requires the average worker to make at least $22 per hour, or $47,600 in order to adequately afford their apartment. The median per capita income in Orange County was roughly $30,500 from 2015-2019 with a 12.6% poverty rate. Research conducted by the Federal Reserve suggests that 40% of Americans are unable to afford a $400 emergency and 22% were already expecting to default on their payments. Yes, this is all happening in the world’s wealthiest nation.
The figures discussed previously do not factor in the unprecedented increase in unemployment and the looming debt crisis hovering over America amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While some developed countries governments offered to pay at least 75% of their workers’ salaries to relieve both businesses and workers, Republican officials in the United States do not want to spend a single dime helping workers while they spend hundreds of millions of dollars attempting to overthrow 7 million votes in the most recent election.
In the middle of a segment in late October on CNBC, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said, “I think the price of not doing something is even higher. So as long as [the stimulus package is] limited in some way, as long as it’s not crazy, yes I’m willing to be flexible about it because I think it’s that important.” The irony is that Sen. Rubio has advocated for far “crazier” policies in the past than $2,000 payments to American workers during a financial crisis, including raising the nation’s deficit-filled defense budget to $1T.
During the beginning of the pandemic, leading senate Democrats, including Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and now Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris of California, cosigned the Economic Crisis Support Act, which would provide monthly checks of $2,000 to Americans amid the economic downturn. Since then, there have been multiple variations of the stimulus plan, including the Emergency Money for the People Act, which would add $2,000 monthly payments to the federal unemployment benefits covered under the CARES Act, which has expired since the end of July. Such a plan would only work to boost the economy by increasing government spending and increasing the amount of money families are spending, circulating money around the economy. Republicans rejected both proposals, plus many more.
While Republican politicians are off campaigning on their ability to capitalize on the irrational fears of socialism and the oxymoron “radical liberalism,” hundreds of thousands of Americans have died under their lack of leadership and millions of Americans have experienced the woes of a deadly virus. The President of the United States, Donald J. Trump downplayed such a virus and lied to the American people about how to prevent the rapid spread of the virus. After his continuous mishandling of the virus, Trump still does not have a plan. Instead, this president is using his fundraising ability to make hundreds of millions of dollars that are virtually unregulated. Right behind him are the same party leaders that could barely agree to pass a $600 check on Sunday.
One-time checks of $1,200 was already a major compromise for Democrats and now they have to agree to an almost pathetic $600. The reason why such a major compromise was made when it comes to providing relief to American families was because Republicans did not want to provide relief to families, they wanted to provide relief to corporations. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell alongside other rank and file Republicans have continuously called for five-year liability protection, meaning corporations that have mistreated workers or did not take the proper safety precautions during the pandemic cannot be sued by workers. Democrats categorically refused.
It is relatively easy to pass off aid to American families as “socialism” during a deadly pandemic when your whole career was built on corporate donations like Mitch McConnell’s. It is easy to tell American families that cutting red tape is good when you represent one of the nation’s most impoverished states; yet own a $600,000 pad in that state alongside an estimated $2.15 million townhouse in the nations’ capital, like Mitch McConnell. Republicans do not like socialism for the American people, they only like socialism for themselves and large corporations.
While this stimulus plan is disappointing, it is not all negative, especially since Republicans did not get their way on corporate immunity. Thanks to Democrats in the house and senate, this stimulus provides $600 to adults plus an extra $600 per child. The bill invests over $200 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program, small business loans and funds for loans written out by small and minority-owned lenders. The bill also extends some programs from the CARES Act and provides a supplemental $300 weekly to those who are unemployed.
It is time for Democrats, especially progressives, to turn out more than ever before to stop Republicans from obstructing anymore progress. This pandemic made it abundantly clear that Republicans are in it for themselves and S&P 500 CEOs. For now, state and local leaders must work together to take care and provide for their communities, especially in Florida, where corporate Republicans preside over every level of the government.
Supervisor Nathaniel Douglas made history during the 2020 election as the youngest person elected to the Orange Soil & Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors, winning Seat 1. He is a Florida National News contributor.