By Joey Daniewicz, Staff Writer Originally published in Issue 7, Volume 33 of The University Register on February 12, 2021
In the leadup to the upset victories Democrats scored in Georgia to (barely) secure the US Senate for the next two years, Joe Biden promised that if Warnock and Ossoff were elected, $2000 checks would go out the door “immediately.”
Since then, there’s been a baffling lack of enthusiasm from the White House and Congress in fulfilling this promise. It was instantly walked back to $1400, with the $600 the Trump administration paid out in December considered to be a down payment. I understand the logic, but I don’t really think that this was made clear on the campaign trail and it’s not what the American people were expecting. But this foible uncovers another major one, which is that those in power don’t seem to understand that as time passes between these checks, people are going to end up needing more money. If it’s January and you want to give people the $2000 they should have had in December, you’ll need to compensate them with more money. If it’s March and you want to give people $1400 meant to complete and a $2000 payout from December, you need to give a lot more.
And really, the most offensive thing about these talks is that there is no discussion of continuing to cut these checks on a continuous basis. These debates will have to pick back up again when the nation hits another breaking point, at which point Congress will deliver a months-late package less than the bare minimum but enough for them to tell us they’ve done something.
That’s the real downer. Yes, it’s depressing that Democrats are likely going to score an own goal by targeting checks more tightly, resulting in certain middle class families receiving money from Trump but not Biden, and it’s depressing that we’re still means-testing checks by using tax returns from a year when everything was completely different. But it’s the shocking indifference and lack of urgency that even a Democratic Congress is rising to the challenge of helping a suffering nation. Stimulus and even vaccination aren’t all-hands-on-deck affairs, but almost seem like they come from the same place of exhaustion that we’re mired in.
The Australian Open began this week. The players who flew in had to undergo strict quarantine procedures, but Australians are walking around and freely living their lives, almost the way they were in 2019. It’s essentially a post-COVID world down under. Strong government intervention and paying people to stay home got them through it. It looks beautiful, and I’m so jealous. But our country doesn’t even seem to be interested in moving towards that point again. We just hope that we can hobble on for another month, then another, then another. And when that’s finally enough, hopefully we have to finally answer for those that couldn’t make it through that approach.
It’s almost the anniversary of lockdown, and by then, Americans will have received $2600 in personal stimulus at best. Is that enough to live?
Image on top courtesy of AARP