Category Archives: Austerity

Critics Smell ‘Economic Sabotage’ as McConnell Unveils Covid Plan With $0 for Unemployment Boost, Direct Payments

“McConnell is making it pretty clear that if Dems don’t win the Georgia Senate races, he will cripple the American economy, hoping it will let the GOP win the midterm.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-2-2020

Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday began circulating a coronavirus relief proposal whose contents offer so little assistance to the tens of millions of jobless, hungry, and eviction-prone Americans that critics warned the Kentucky Republican is actively working to ensure the U.S. economy remains mired in deep recession as Biden administration takes charge next month.

Described as a “targeted” relief proposal, McConnell’s plan is heavily geared toward providing corporations with immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits; the offer includes a liability shield that Public Citizen’s Remington Gregg described as “breathtakingly broad.” The Kentucky Republican’s plan also contains a 100% tax deduction for business meals. Continue reading

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‘Catastrophic Failure to Tackle Inequality’ Left World Unprepared for Pandemic: Global Index

“Millions of people have been pushed into poverty and hunger and there have been countless unnecessary deaths.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-8-2020

Photo: Sarah Wy/flickr/CC

With the world’s death toll from Covid-19 above one million and confirmed cases surpassing 36 million, a pair of advocacy groups on Thursday released an analysis illustrating how governments’ failures to implement policies that reduce inequality left countries “woefully unprepared” for the coronavirus pandemic.

The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index, updated annually by Oxfam International and Development Finance International (DFI), ranks 158 governments based on three core pillars: spending on public services (meaning health, education, and social protection), progressive taxation policies, and workers’ rights. Continue reading

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Experts Warn Trump Executive Action on Unemployment Insurance Deliberately Leaves Out Poorest Americans

“Literally every new detail about these executive orders confirms that in addition to being wildly unconstitutional, they will do absolutely nothing to help anyone who’s suffering.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-10-2020

On top of serious questions about the directive’s legality and workability, experts are warning that President Donald Trump’s executive action to extend the federal unemployment insurance boost at $400 per week—using $44 billion in funds meant for disaster relief—leaves out the poorest Americans by design.

The language of Trump’s unemployment memorandum issued over the weekend defines “eligible claimants” as those receiving “at least $100 per week” in state unemployment benefits—meaning that laid-off workers currently receiving less than $100 per week in aid will not see a dollar in federal relief unless states agree to increase their benefits. Continue reading

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Warnings of ‘Unconstitutional’ Assault on Social Security as Trump Threatens Unilateral Suspension of Payroll Tax

“Donald Trump is so desperate to defund Social Security, he may rip the Constitution to shreds to make it happen.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-5-2020

Photo: White House/flickr

President Donald Trump confirmed Tuesday that he is considering circumventing Congress to unilaterally suspend collection of the payroll tax, a move advocacy groups and lawmakers said would be an “unconstitutional” abuse of power and a destructive attack on Social Security funding.

Trump said during a Covid-19 press briefing that his administration is examining a variety of potential executive orders should Congress fail to reach an agreement on the next stimulus package by the end of the week, a deadline Democratic leaders and the White House set on Tuesday. Continue reading

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Poverty is a political choice

A UN Rapporteur has just delivered a withering critique of the international system.

By Stephen McCloskey  Published 7-9-2020 by openDemocracy

Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, 22 June 2018. | Flickr/UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The United Nations Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, has just released his final report, a withering critique of international efforts to eliminate poverty which he describes as the result of “longstanding neglect” by “many governments, economists, and human rights advocates.”

Central to his report are the institutional failings of the World Bank in getting to grips with the scale of global poverty, which it persistently underplays using the flawed measurement tool of an international poverty line, or IPL. The IPL, argues Alston, sets the poverty benchmark at way too low a level to support a life of dignity consistent with basic human rights. Continue reading

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The right to refuse unsafe work is more important than ever — but expect a fight

Photo: USDA

By Kathy Wilkes. Published 6-7-2020 by Huck/Konopacki Cartoons

The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a heavy toll on workers. Reports of job hazards grow increasingly dire as several governors and President Trump push past CDC guidelines to “reopen” the economy while forecasts predict soaring infections and deaths.

Some states at the direction of the Labor Department threaten termination of unemployment benefits for workers fearing return to dangerous jobs. A disturbing June 5 New York Times’ report reveals how far those machinations have gone. The result: workers fired without pay or benefits or trapped in a deadly vice between poverty and disease. Continue reading

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‘Should Be Bigger News’: Analysis Finds Nearly One Third of Owed Unemployment Benefits Have Not Been Paid

Bloomberg found a $67 billion gap between the sum of benefits paid out by the Treasury Department and the amount that is owed to jobless Americans.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-3-2020

Volunteers at the North Texas Food Bank. Photo: North Texas Food Bank/Twitter

A Bloomberg analysis released Tuesday estimates that nearly a third of the unemployment benefits owed to jobless Americans have not yet been paid out, a finding critics described as a “scandal” deserving of more media attention as millions of people struggle to afford basic expenses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Treasury disbursed $146 billion in unemployment benefits in the three months through May,” Bloomberg reported. “But even that historic figure falls short of a total bill that should have reached about $214 billion for the period, according to Bloomberg calculations based on weekly unemployment filings and the average size of those claims.” Continue reading

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GOP ‘Plot to Gut Social Security Behind Closed Doors’ Gains Steam in Senate Covid-19 Talks

“With seniors most at risk from Covid-19, we need to be increasing Social Security’s modest benefits, not creating secret commissions to cut them.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-23-2020

Photo: Tony Alter/flickr/CC

A proposal by Sen. Mitt Romney to establish congressional committees with the specific goal of crafting legislative “solutions” for America’s federal trust fund programs has reportedly resurfaced in GOP talks over the next Covid-19 stimulus package, sparking alarm among progressive advocates who warn the Utah Republican’s bill is nothing but a stealth attack on Social Security and Medicare.

Politico‘s Burgess Everett reported Wednesday that Romney’s TRUST Act, first introduced last October with the backing of a bipartisan group of senators, “is getting a positive reception from Senate Republicans” in coronavirus relief discussions, which are still in their early stages. The legislation, Everett noted, “could become part of the mix” for the next Covid-19 stimulus as Republicans once again claim to be concerned about the growing budget deficit. Continue reading

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Senate Bill Would Guarantee Paychecks to Laid-Off Workers for Rest of 2020 ‘To Avoid Another Great Depression’

“We cannot continue to allow tens of millions of Americans to lose their jobs, income, and health insurance during this horrific pandemic,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the bill’s lead sponsors.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-21-2020

Unemployed men queued outside a depression soup kitchen opened in Chicago by Al Capone. Photo: Public domain

Sens. Bernie Sanders, Mark Warner, Doug Jones, and Richard Blumenthal on Thursday unveiled legislation aimed at stemming coronavirus-induced mass layoffs in the United States by guaranteeing paychecks and healthcare benefits to laid-off and furloughed workers for the rest of 2020.

The Paycheck Security Act—introduced with support from senators across the ideological spectrum of the Democratic caucus, and with the notable backing of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)—would massively expand the existing Employee Retention Tax Credit to cover wages, salaries, and benefits for laid-off or furloughed workers up to $90,000 per year. Continue reading

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What the Trump budget says about the administration’s health priorities

President Donald Trump’s budget request for fiscal year 2021. AP photo / J. Scott Applewhite

Simon F. Haeder, Pennsylvania State University

The Trump administration recently released its budget blueprint for the 2021 fiscal year, the first steps in the complex budgetary process.

The final budget will reflect the input of Congress, including the Democratic House of Representatives, and will look significantly different.

However, budget drafts by presidential administrations are not meaningless pages of paper. They are important policy documents highlighting goals, priorities and visions for the future of the country. Continue reading

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