Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Where's My Help

We can have some discussions about the merits of giving giant checks to people (I think very good!) but announcing a bill - even if it's a very good bill! - with big fanfare and the suggestion that help is on the way when for most people it will be quite small is... not so good politics! Every year the secret welfare gets extended. Somebody's getting lots of help and it isn't me!
But that universe of people, while in need, is about 2-3 percent of the total workforce. By contrast something like 80 percent of the public, everyone making $100,000 or less, is getting the check. From a messaging standpoint of “what’s in it for me,” that’s just going to take precedence. Moreover, you can see the two payments, from CARES and this bill, as a leveler of decades of soaring inequality, and really the least you can do for a population that has had the rules of capitalism rigged against them. Even if they weren’t means tested, giving everyone thousands of dollars means more to those at the lower end.

The politics, then, argue for higher payments. It was Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans who kept them artificially low. Now here comes Trump asking for them to be nearly tripled. It’s amazing that he waited until after losing the election to flash the old-time populism and wedge both parties, but here we are. And then came the moment where Mitch McConnell’s head blew up like in Scanners.

Make it happen, or if it doesn't happen make sure people understand why it didn't happen.

Hint: it's those fucking Republicans.