During an interview that aired on the latest edition of Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) insulted struggling Americans with the implication that they’re lazily accepting government benefits amidst the current crisis rather than heading back to work. Specifically, he called out the $600 a week that was added on to unemployment benefits towards the start of the pandemic; the benefits, which expired just recently, provided what McConnell claimed was a “disincentive” for people to head back to work. It’s $600 a week – Senators (including McConnell!) make $174,000 a year. Jobs have been disappearing, at least temporarily, across the economy as businesses have closed, sometimes permanently, amidst the rush to beat back the Coronavirus. And McConnell thinks it’s the $600 a week that poses a problem? Seriously?
‘The extra $600 put in The CARES Act ended up providing the opportunity for some people to make more by not going back to work than their neighbor did by going back to work. So unemployment insurance is important, but what we’re trying to do is cure this disincentive to getting back to work in a time of high unemployment. Basic unemployment, extremely important. We also would provide a plus up, just not as generous because we still want to incentivize people to get back to work.’
To be clear — Republicans have proposed an add-on of just $200 a week for unemployment benefits going forward. What on earth is that even supposed to cover? One bill? Do Republicans in the Senate even know how much things cost for everyday Americans?
Van Susteren subsequently pointed out that “for some people, there will be no jobs,” but McConnell seemed unfazed — he claimed that one-time $1,200 payments to Americans will help make up the slack for those two people. That’s the equivalent of just two weeks of the previous add-on to unemployment benefits. Two weeks. Amidst a global crisis, does McConnell expect unemployed people to get back on a job within 14 days?
Discussing the possibility of voting to extend unemployment benefits, McConnell added:
‘We’re set up to have a vote, but I’d rather get an outcome than have a vote. And we’ve got the space now to achieve that. What we wanted to make sure the American people understood by setting up this vote beginning today to occur next week, that Senate Republicans wanted to act, we wanted to break the logjam we wanted to deal with the immediate problem of unemployment insurance.’
If Senate Republicans are so gung-ho about getting something done, then why have they refused to even bring up for consideration the relief package that the Democrat-led House passed over two months ago? Americans have been struggling for all this time — the crisis has not gone away — but for over two months, McConnell decided to have relief negotiations take a backseat.
The House’s relief bill is one of hundreds of pieces of legislation from the Democrat-led House that McConnell has refused to even bring up for consideration in the Senate, as if playing politics is his priority here, rather than helping Americans.