Category Archives: Austerity

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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‘We’re Just Getting Started,’ Says Union Leader, as Worker Strike Activity Hits 35-Year High Under Trump

“Trump’s economy is not a workers’ economy, and workers know solidarity is the best way to fight back.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-11-2020

Thousands of members and allies of the Chicago Teachers Union demonstrated in the city’s Union Park during a strike in October 2019. (Photo: CTU/Twitter)

In yet another rebuke to President Donald Trump’s claims that the U.S. economy is “roaring” and his “relentlessly pro-worker” agenda is serving the American public, a report published Tuesday by a progressive think tank revealed that the “number of striking workers surged in 2018 and 2019” after decades of decline.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report, entitled Continued Surge in Strike Activity Signals Worker Dissatisfaction With Wage Growth, noted that the spike marked “a 35-year high for the number of workers involved in a major work stoppage over a two-year period.” Continue reading

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Amid Years of Funding Cuts to Public Health, First US Case of China’s Coronavirus Detected

Public health advocates say state, local, and federal agencies are underprepared to cope with the spread of a new infectious disease.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-21-2020

Coronavirus. Photo: CDC

Officials in Washington State reported Tuesday that a resident was diagnosed with the coronavirus which was first detected in Wuhan, China last month, leading federal public health agencies which have suffered billions of dollars in cuts in recent years to issue warnings and post information about the illness.

“This is an evolving situation and again, we do expect additional cases in the United States and globally,” Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Washington Post. Continue reading

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