Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin apparently thinks little of the millions of Americans who are struggling amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. During an appearance on Fox News Sunday over the weekend, he derided the idea of extending the current level of increased unemployment benefits for the millions of Americans who have been left out of work amidst the economic upheaval of the attempts to contain the virus. Federal legislation in the earlier parts of the pandemic had established an extra $600 a week for unemployed Americans, but on Sunday, Mnuchin insisted that “it just wouldn’t be fair to use taxpayer dollars to pay more people [more] to sit home than they would working and get a job.”
What an appalingly reductive view of the people who are getting unemployment benefits. They’re not all just sitting at home living large off the government! The money has been going out to them so they don’t starve and/or end up homeless. It’s a meager $600 a week, and that money is added on to the unemployment benefits of people who — by definition — have no other income source.
According to Investopedia, the Treasury Secretary — meaning Mnuchin — receives a salary of $219,200 a year, which is, of course, far more than any of the millions of Americans who are on unemployment are getting. Perhaps Americans should be more concerned about the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars going to fund the lavish lifestyle of a man who spends some of his weekends going on Fox News and deriding hardworking Americans who have faced economic ruin due in significant part to the Trump administration’s own mishandling of the economy. If the Trump administration had imposed effective measures against the Coronavirus, then the economy could have been more easily salvaged. But in the most recent full week for which data is available, over 1.4 million people applied for unemployment benefits across the country.
By the end of this week, the eviction moratorium will expire and extra unemployment benefits will stop — when 1.4 million Americans filed for unemployment just last week.
The pandemic is not over. People need economic relief now.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) July 24, 2020
Currently, the additional $600 a week that unemployed Americans have been getting is set to stop at the end of the month. There have been negotiations ongoing over a new Coronavirus-connected economic relief package, but it’s still not entirely clear what provisions might be included in the prospective legislation.
Mnuchin lauded the idea of direct payments to Americans like the one-time checks many got during the earlier days of the pandemic. He said:
‘The direct payments are a much quicker way of effectively giving everyone a tax cut — much quicker than the payroll tax cut. June retail sales were 1 percent higher than June of last year, so all that money we pumped into the economy, it worked, people went out and spent… We can move very quickly with the Democrats on these issues. If there are issues that take longer we’ll deal with those as well.’
Mnuchin helped lead the Republican side of the negotiations that preceded the CARES Act, which is probably the most high-profile piece of Coronavirus-connected economic relief legislation so far. It seems likely that direct payments to Americans will get included in the next relief legislation, because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has himself indicated support for the measure.
!!! Mitch McConnell just now on Republican Covid plan: "we do envision direct checks again."
Not clear if it'll be $1,200 this time but if Republicans are on board it's almost certain US residents will be getting another direct cash payment in the next COVID aid bill.
— Paul McLeod (@pdmcleod) July 21, 2020