The New COVID Bill: Relief or Questionable Spending?
After several months of waiting, families and individuals can expects some type of COVID relief. Tonight, President Trump signed a $2.4 trillion bill after threatening to veto it. The bill is meant to provide support to Americans during this pandemic with $900 billion being designated for COVID relief, including $600 stimulus checks, $300 in supplemental unemployment, $54 billion allocated to schools, and $25 billion for emergency rental relief. Why did Trump threaten to veto this bill if Americans are in desperate need during this pandemic? Because he requested that individuals receive $2000 not $600, and does not agree with some of the other expenditures in the bill. And you know what? I agree with him this time. Within this 5,593 page document, that was too long for members of Congress to read before the vote, there is a host of other activities being funded that do not address the needs of suffering families and individuals; below are just a few.
In the bill, there is $284 billion allotted for PPP loan funding. As a reminder, PPP loans are meant to provide small businesses with support through the COVID pandemic. Businesses have been suffering during this pandemic and need support to pay employees and keep the doors open. According to a recent study, from February to April 2020, the number of active business owners fell by 22%. The number of Black-owned businesses declined by 41%, Latino-owned by 32%, and Asian-owned businesses by 26%, while the number of white owned businesses fell by just 17%. With these staggering numbers, PPP loans only reached 20% of eligible businesses in areas with the highest densities of Black-owned businesses. In theory, PPP loans are meant to reach the businesses that need them the most, but the numbers say otherwise.
Military and “International Aid”
The bill includes 6 billion dollars for military weapons and a 3% increase for military personnel, but no hazard pay for frontline workers. The bill also includes “international aide” to various countries, including $500 million for “Israeli Cooperative Programs.” This spending on military weapons and international aide during a pandemic is very telling. What it tells us is that during a pandemic where millions are suffering, our country is more concerned with increasing military weapons, so that we can oppress others, and funding a colonial settler state, responsible for the genocide of the Palestinian people.
PPP loans, military spending, and international aid are only a few of the highly questionable components of this bill. Other questionable components, such as $1.5 billion for the border wall, send a resounding message that our elected officials are not doing their jobs properly. The job of our representatives is to serve the people and they are failing. In a time when millions are starving, homeless, and sick, our representatives are fulfilling their own personal agendas and not that of the most vulnerable people during this pandemic. I hope that this bill will bring some relief to the millions of people that need it, but sadly it is not enough.