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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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Republicans in GOP-dominated states which are reopening their economies in a hurry are forcing workers to come back to work–even if that would result in a substantial risk of contracting COVID-19–or else be prepared to forfeit any additional unemployment compensation.
In Iowa, for example, state officials even have posted a public call for companies to contact the state if an “employee refuses to return to work.”
These Republicans say that they fear that unemployed Americans will simply prefer to somehow lounge at home, collecting the historically generous which is a part of the $2 trillion economic rescue package Congress approved to help blunt the impact of the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The fact is that Republicans started moaning and whining about that generous unemployment since practically the moment that Donald Trump signed it into law.
It goes to just how prejudiced Republicans are towards the super rich, that this rare moment that Democrats actually pulled out a win for Main Street over Wall Street, they are just beside themselves, like we average folks “got away with too much.”
Which is ridiculous. Folks who at home trying to shelter in place as they’re told, and who have to get by those unemployment benefits and those relatively meager one-time $1,200 checks, aren’t exactly living high-on-the-hog.
They’re not, of course. They’re getting by, doing all that they can that they can so they or their loved ones don’t become the next COVID-19 statistics.
We know that in most cases, public health professionals are warning that these governors are lifting their restrictions too soon–and risking second waves of infection.
So the choice such politicians as Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) is forcing countless American workers to make is this: Go to work and risk infection–and perhaps death–or stay at home and potentially starve.
They’ve essentially fashioned a legal form of extortion, and it’s reprehensible that any leaders who claim to be acting in the interest of their citizenry would put that citizenry in such a savage position.
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said the problem began with the fact that Republican governors are “casting public health aside and forcing their states to ‘reopen.’ ”
“Everyone wants to find a new normal and get back to our lives,” he added in a statement, “but pretending the crisis is over when it’s not over will make it much harder to contain the virus and for workers to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.”
It’s great that Democrats like Wyden see the problem. It’s imperative that they devise a mechanism to put a stop to it–quickly, before more Americans die needlessly.
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