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Updated: Aug 21, 2020

May 14, 2020

I finally got my $1,200 government check.

Like a lot of people, I’m having a hard time understanding why it has taken so long for some of us to get our money. The CARES Act passed way back in late March, when we were just starting to see crocus shoots pushing up out of the snow. Now we’re seeing marigolds.

For most people, $1,200 isn’t even a rent or mortgage payment — or if it is, there’s nothing left over for food, medicine and utilities. Forget payments on cars, student loans or credit cards.

I bet most of our members of Congress have monthly expenses higher than $1,200. Mitch McConnell does, I bet.

And that $1,200 we got isn’t even income, it’s just a one-time check. Or handout, as Mitch and the Republicans seem to think. In fact, it’s our own taxpayer money.

But hang on, weren’t corporations the big beneficiaries, anyway? Didn’t they get $500 billion? And didn’t Trump and GOP Congresspeople balk at answering to anyone about how it was distributed, to whom, or for what reason?

If you go online and try to figure out exactly where that huge sum of money went, as I’ve done a few times, you will feel like the girl in the fairy tale, walking through a foggy forest at night, wondering how to get home.

That’s because the government deliberately left it up to the corporate recipients to disclose whether they got money, how much they got, or what they did with it. The New York Times revealed yesterday that after COVID-19 came, “dozens” of companies with pre-existing financial or legal problems were rescued, courtesy of the government.

Yet Mitch McConnell recently touched on that very issue when he said of states seeking aid, “We’re not interested in rescuing them from bad decisions they’ve made in the past.” In other words, exactly what he and the other Republicans did for private companies.

McConnell earned himself the nickname “Marie Antoinette” in late March after also saying government wasn’t interested in giving “blue-state bailouts” — a comment that triggered New York Governor Cuomo to fire back, “[New York State] puts $116 billion more into the federal pot than we take out…But we don't deserve help now because the 15,000 people who died here were predominantly Democrats?"

He also mentioned that Kentucky, McConnell’s home state, is the third-lowest contributor of federal funding in the nation. Meaning, New York and other big contributors carry them. But I think regular people, including me, were so stunned by McConnell’s blue-state remark that we barely heard the rest.

Under Mitch’s watch, We the People have not been relieved of even our current financial woes, much less previously existing ones. Nor the financial or legal ones, like corporations got. Not even the medical ones.

A bizarre thing about the current “bailout” program is that coronavirus care is not provided. I wonder how the GOP Senate thinks people will pay for their medical care if they get this terrible illness, which can involve long stays in the ICU or on ventilators, and other expensive stuff. Even those with health insurance may not be able to pay, considering the Trump administration is fighting to draw back the reach of Obamacare, if not dismantle it entirely, in the court system. Yes, that's what they're doing right now, in a pandemic.

Democrats in Congress have also had to fight for hospitals and PPE to get aid, which so far has been insufficient. It remains to be seen whether the next wave of disaster relief, assuming there is a next one, will include those crucial line items.

It infuriates me that Republicans continue to pamper corporations, big Pharma, insurance companies, and banks, even though Trump era policies had already made cherished children of them. While regular people have had to work 2 and 3 jobs to make ends meet during this administration (Stephanie and I have long ridden that train — shoveling coal into the boiler, so to speak), the Trump tax cuts ensured that the richest Americans would just keep getting richer.

And when I say “rich Americans,” I include the Trump family. Three and half years into his term, President Trump still hasn’t divested himself fully of his business interests. In fact, he seems to profit from the office every chance he gets, being the only President in the history of the United States to face three separate lawsuits based on violations of the emoluments clause in the Constitution. The family also collects salaries for positions held in the White House staff, whether or not they actually work and whether or not they hold professional qualifications for those positions.

In mid-March, the Trump family had the gall to plead for leniency in its lease agreement on the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Second son Eric Trump asked that the family be let in on the government aid feast too — not that he was demanding special favors. “Just treat us the same,” he said.

But they’re not the same, are they?

Donald Trump is the only President in our history to be legislatively restricted from dipping his hand into government aid intended for disaster victims. In fact, the CARES Act provision also explicitly extends to his “just treat us the same” family.

The level of tone-deafness in this White House defies belief. I think that if people weren’t so stunned right now, there would be the kind outcry that this mean-spirited administration deserves.

But so many of us are stunned right now. And desperate, heartsick, bewildered, grieving, distracted, and scared. We’re tough, but just now we aren’t capable of much resistance.

And of course they know that.

Like cruel kings, Donald, Mitch and the Trump kids watch us scrambling for our $1,200 crumbs. Wondering if more will come, and when. Wondering if the landlord will wait, if the credit card company (probably a stimulus recipient) will let us skip a payment.

They act like we’re reaching into their pockets for their money when in fact, we’re the ones who put it in. We paid for their children’s orthodontia and their ex-wives’ alimony, their town cars and golf clubs, their tuxedos and evening gowns … and above all their peace of mind. Because if a member of Congress catches COVID-19, they may suffer, they may even die, just like any of the rest of us. But they won’t leave destitute spouses and children behind. Their houses and cars won’t be foreclosed on, and they won’t be forced to choose between food and medicine.

Traumatized as we are right now, we have to look at what this government is doing to us, or for us — or isn’t doing, but should. If it really wanted to help us, wouldn’t it simply do so? In Canada, every citizen got $2,000 a month — no waiting! — so they would have the peace of mind to stay home till it was safe to go out again.

If we weren’t so broke, would we be heading out again now? Knowing some of us are sure get sick, and that some of us will die?

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