Crumbs for the Hungry, Windfalls for the Rich

Editors’ Note: Excerpted and sourced from The New York Times, May 23, 2020, from a column by Nicholas Kristof.

Kristof’s OpEd column caught our eye mostly because of the outrageous financial benefit it dissects. At the same time, the sheer gall of the maneuver recalled an item VoxFairfax (“Brief Cases,” https://wp.me/p9wDCF-1q9) posted May 25 regarding the negative vote by Virginia Democratic Reps. Elaine Luria (VA-02) and Abigail Spanberger (VA-07) against the latest pandemic financial rescue, the HEROES Act. They eschewed the “political statements” of colleagues in the bill as their duty to their constituents to be honest.  

We wondered where their dudgeon was stored when P45 and his real estate cronies created the windfall Kristof parses. Petards have never been comfortable perches.

While P45 and his allies in Congress seek to tighten access to food stamps, they are showing compassion for one group: zillionaires. Their economic rescue package quietly allocated $135 billion — yes, that’s “billion” with a “b” — for the likes of wealthy real estate developers.

Times journalist Jesse Drucker notes that 45 himself, along with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, may benefit financially from this provision. The fine print was mysteriously slipped into the March economic relief package, even though it has nothing to do with the coronavirus and offers retroactive tax breaks for periods long before Covid-19 arrived.

 

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Representative Lloyd Doggett of Texas, both Democrats, have asked the Trump administration for any communications that illuminate how this provision sneaked into the 880-page bill. (Officially, the provision is called “Modification of Limitation on Losses for Taxpayers Other Than Corporations,” but that’s camouflage; I prefer to call it the “Zillionaire Giveaway.”)

About 82 percent of the Zillionaire Giveaway goes to those earning more than $1 million a year, according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation. Of those beneficiaries earning more than $1 million annually, the average benefit is $1.6 million.

A single mom juggling two jobs gets a maximum $1,200 stimulus check — and then pays taxes so that a real estate mogul can receive $1.6 million. This is dog-eat-dog capitalism for struggling workers, and socialism for the rich.

In other words, a single mom juggling two jobs gets a maximum $1,200 stimulus check — and then pays taxes so that a real estate mogul can receive $1.6 million. This is dog-eat-dog capitalism for struggling workers, and socialism for the rich.  It’s not fair to viruses to blame our unemployment crisis simply on the pandemic. It’s also our national choice.

Power creates money creates more power creates more money.

At the same time, it has become increasingly clear that money intended to rescue small businesses has often gone not to those with the greatest need but rather to those with the most shameless lawyers. They are part of our national equation: Power creates money creates more power creates more money.

A Brookings Institution study found that young children in one in six American households are not getting enough to eat because of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and we’re rushing to help … tycoons!

Young children in one in six American households are not getting enough to eat because of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and we’re rushing to help … tycoons!

A Kaiser Family Foundation study found that because of layoffs, 27 million Americans as of May 2 were at risk of losing employer-sponsored health insurance. You might think that this would lead to a push for universal health coverage. But, no, the opposite: Trump is continuing to support a lawsuit to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act — and allow millions more to lose coverage.

During the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt responded boldly to economic desperation by creating jobs, passing Social Security and starting rural electrification. In this crisis, 45 is trying to restrict food stamps and health insurance while giving free money to real estate tycoons — probably including himself.

Of course, America does remain a land of opportunity, if you have the wealth. A new study determined that in the two months since March 18, roughly the start of the economic crisis, America’s billionaires saw their wealth collectively grow by 15 percent. And another 16 Americans became billionaires in that period. It’s great to see people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps!

The House of Representatives is trying to repeal the Zillionaire Giveaway, but 45 and his congressional allies are resisting. 45 meanwhile sees little need to help states and localities, which in April alone laid off more employees than in the entire Great Recession.

P45 was elected in part by voters angry at the way the system was rigged. But under 45, the economy has become rigged ever more decisively, even as children go hungry and ordinary workers lose their jobs and their lives.

 

 

 



Categories: coronavirus, elections, Issues, Local, National, pandemic, politics, wealth inequality

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