This week’s COVID-19 news roundup sheds light on what’s going on with the stimulus package and how governments are using this moment to consolidate power. And we continue to have the same old fights around reproductive rights, immigration and health care.
The Fight Over the COVID-19 Economic Relief Package
Himani: I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that even in a crisis like no other, somehow the Republican party and the corporations who line their pockets are more concerned about ensuring their continued financial solvency at the expense of workers and taxpayers. It’s disgusting that big businesses in the airline industry — which have been turning a huge profit for years — want taxpayer money to get them out of the hole they squarely put themselves into. They decided to run tight margins and make risky financial decisions so investors and CEOs could make a massive haul at the expense of their workers. And now they want taxpayers to come in and save them? Not without some guarantees that the money’s going to go to workers and only to the workers.
Senate Republicans continue to play games. In at least one iteration of their alleged stimulus package, they put forward a plan for paying Americans, while excluding many, many people who needed that money the most. Over the last few days, they’ve continued to push proposals that offer bailouts to corporations with no oversight. Democrats aren’t having it and blocked two procedural votes.
Meanwhile, Trump is getting ready to end social distancing measures just so he can reopen his resorts and clubs, regardless of the human cost.
How COVID-19 Is Disrupting Democracy
Himani: Around the world, governments have started using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to delay the inconveniences of democratic rule (namely have to give up power when they are, in one way or another, voted out). Unfortunately, I think we’re just seeing the beginning of these types of authoritarian measures.
The challenging thing about a situation like this, though, is that I do believe we need governments to step in and tell people and corporations what they should and should not be doing to mitigate the spread of this pandemic. If we had clearer direction – based on facts and science (ie testing and contact tracing) – then we wouldn’t be morally shaming each other when we interpret poorly-defined “recommendations” about social distancing differently. And at the most basic level, I think that Trump and governments around the world should be requiring companies that have the capabilities to manufacture masks, ventilators and hand sanitizer. The problem is, how many governments can actually be trusted with this kind of power?
Himani: Instead of spending the time governing, here are some Senate Republicans that sold their stocks weeks ago after they learned how devastating the COVID-19 pandemic would be for the global economy. Yay, kleptocracy!
Sen. Kelly Loeffler Dumped Millions in Stock After Coronavirus Briefing