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The stimulus package plan, announced by Senate Republicans, aims to provide financial security for citizens during the pandemic, in a time of shutdowns, job losses, and isolation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared the plan an “a bold legislative proposal” which will provide “direct financial help for the American people” and “rapid relief for small businesses and their employees.”
The package includes direct check payments up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples, with the amount based on adjusted gross income. For every child, the sum will rise by an additional $500. It will also include expanded unemployment insurance.
At present, the stimulus package is currently being negotiated in Congress.
On Sunday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) addressed the stimulus package and commented that although the package will offer more unemployment benefits, it does not provide enough support to workers such as freelancer workers and contract workers.
“One of the issues here, is, of course, we need to be expanding unemployment, but there are a lot of workers in our economy that will not be covered by unemployment because they’re hourly workers, they’re gig workers, they’re freelance and contract workers. And unemployment does not cover those workers, even though they’re essentially unemployed right now, their contracts are frozen up or their hours are drastically slashed but not completely slashed,” Ocasio-Cortez explained during CNN’s State of the Union program.
She said that to ensure all citizens are able to sustain themselves financially, everyone should receive direct payments, and the following year the money paid to the wealthy can be recovered through taxes.
“I do think it should be universal,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I hear the argument of people saying, why are you going to give a check to Bill Gates. One of the things that we’re saying is, tax it back a year from now so you don’t have to worry about a big complicated bureaucratic means test upfront, mail them out to everybody and let’s get it back from the folks that don’t need it next year.”
When asked by CNN’s State of the Union host Jake Tapper how much money did she think the government needs be sending directly to the public, Ocasio-Cortez responded by praising the plan suggested by the Financial Services Committee. Their plan involves sending $2,000 this month to every American and an extra $1,000 per child, while also pausing debts, rent payments, and mortgage payments.
“I’m very supportive of both those measures,” she remarked. “When you’re able to stop the money going out, then that money that you do give goes a much longer way.”
Speaking to Tapper, Ocasio-Cortez, who previously worked in the service industry as a bartender, expressed her concern for service workers who may be having their hours slashed, no tips due to a lack of customers, and even risk losing their jobs because of business closures.
“From the moment that the business closures started happening, I’ve been very scared for a lot of these workers. All I can think about is what I would have done just two or three years ago.”
Economic advisor Larry Kudlow said the new measures to combat the pandemic could total over $2 trillion, and the package is equal to approximately 10 percent of U.S. economic output.
However, Ocasio-Cortez stated that this amount is not enough, especially as the package includes corporate bailouts.
“If all of this money is going to bailing out the airline industry in a way that does not help workers, if it’s going to bailing out banks and other industries without helping workers, then it’s not going to be enough and in fact, it could be too big. So it’s really about how we’re using these funds,” she noted.
On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at this point in time there is no confirmed deal regarding the stimulus package: “from my standpoint, we are apart.”
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