Our Rulers Flip the Rabble Classes another Bird

‘Inhumane at Any Time,’ But During a Pandemic? House Approval of $740 Billion Pentagon Budget Condemned;
“Once again, the House has voted to put the interests of weapons manufacturers and war hawks over the wellbeing of people here and abroad;; commondreamsorg, Eowin Higgins, July 31,2020 (Creative Commons)

“Win Without War was among the anti-war voices on Friday issuing blistering condemnations of the passage in the U.S. House of a $740 billion defense bill as part of the 2021 Appropriations Minibus.

“A $740 billion Pentagon budget is inhumane at any time,” said the group’s executive director, Stephen Miles. “In the midst of a pandemic—as people across the country struggle to make rent, to pay their bills, to survive a deadly disease—it should be unthinkable. Once again, the House has voted to put the interests of weapons manufacturers and war hawks over the wellbeing of people here and abroad.”

The bill passed the House on Friday by a 217 to 197 margin, largely along party lines, with 16 members not voting.”

Wanna guess which party lines?  Yeppers, you’re correct:

“Only 12 Democrats voted against the measure while 217 voted in favor. All Republicans in the House either voted against the bill or did not vote. Read the full roll call here. [at the ‘passed’ link]

“Though last week’s votes on whether or not to cut the Pentagon budget by ten percent were hopeful signs of the shifting tides on Pentagon spending, this Appropriations bill is a reminder that there remains much to be done,” said Miles. “We are also disappointed that House Democrats have decided to once again couple passage of a bill that fuels militarism abroad with bills that fund our priorities at home [no mention of what those might be], forfeiting the ability to challenge the former without undermining the latter.”

Miles did point to what he called “bright spots” in the bill, including two provisions from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) that repeal the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force and require congressional approval before going to war with Iran and an amendment from Rep. Jackie Spier (D-Calif.) banning the Department of Defense from using funds to implement a ban on transgender Americans in the military.”

From Barry Gray at wsws.org, Aug, 1, 2020: ‘As stock indexes continue their climb US unemployment supplement expires, setting the stage for mass hunger and homelessness’ (with permission)

“The $600 weekly unemployment insurance supplement enacted in March as part of the bipartisan multi-trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street expired Friday, leaving some 25 million US workers laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic facing destitution.

The loss of the federal supplement to state jobless insurance will cut benefits by up to 80 percent in some states, dropping the average national payment from $920 a week to $520, according to some estimates.

In addition, a moratorium on evictions of tenants in buildings with mortgages backed by the federal government, affecting 18 million of the 44 million renter households in the US, expired last week. This means that 11 million households could be served with eviction papers over the next four months, according to the global advisory firm Stout Risius Ross LLC.

With home mortgage payment moratoriums also expiring, a vast growth of homelessness is looming.

Mile-long lineups of cars at food distribution centers have already become commonplace. A cutoff or reduction in the unemployment pay supplement will greatly increase the spread of hunger and even starvation in the US. Already, almost 40 million people do not expect to be able to make their next rent or mortgage payment, and nearly 30 million say they did not have enough to eat during the week ending July 21.

The Labor Department reports that 33.8 million workers are either receiving jobless benefits or have applied and are waiting to see if they will receive them. These workers account for fully 20 percent of the US labor force.” […]

“Under these conditions, the stalemate in Congress over an extension of the unemployment pay supplement, which is certain to result in either the total elimination or a major cut in the benefit, amounts to a declaration of war by the capitalist ruling elite against the entire working population.” […]

The ruling class is demanding the elimination of the $600 benefit or its reduction in order to carry through its drive to force workers back to work under conditions where its incompetence, indifference and sheer greed have led to the uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus pandemic and the deepest social crisis since the 1930s Depression. Workers are being given the “choice” of going back to factories and workplaces that are breeding grounds for the virus, without any serious protection for themselves or their families, or seeing their families go homeless or hungry.

The Republicans openly denounce the $600 benefit as a “disincentive to work,” because a majority of workers laid off due to the pandemic are receiving more income in jobless pay than they did when they were working. This fact is a stark commentary on the near-poverty wages of most American workers.”

“But the Democrats echo the Republican line, agreeing, as in the New York Times editorial of July 30, that replacing only “a portion of the income of the average unemployed worker” is “reasonable in normal times,” because it “encourages people to find jobs,” but not in the midst of a pandemic.

In any event, there are no jobs for millions of laid-off workers to return to. As the Economic Policy Institute noted: “There are 14 million more unemployed workers than job openings, meaning millions will remain jobless no matter what they do. Slashing the $600 cannot incentivize people to get jobs that are not there.” […]

“House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Tuesday on CNN, “Look, it’s not $600 or bust.” He went on to signal his agreement with the Republicans that the current benefit was a “disincentive to work,” saying, “I think that’s an argument that… has some validity to it, and we ought to deal with that.”

Schumer is jointly sponsoring a bill along with Senator Ron Wyden (Democrat of Oregon) that would progressively cut the federal unemployment supplement by $100 for every drop of 1 percentage point in a state’s unemployment level.

And on Friday, Pelosi reiterated on CNN her position that, prior to the August 7 adjournment of Congress for the party conventions, “We’ll find our common ground” on a relief bill.”

In case you find Barry Gray’s report a bit too cynically…jaundiced  (especially without hyperlinks to check out), The Hill has a few pieces on the sausage-making, and I have no idea whether or not it’s a partisan place or not, including cherry-picking quotes or a slanted overall narrative, but  I’ll just drop the titles and links, maybe a brief excerpt or two, and yo can decide.

‘Frustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal’, Aug.1, 2020, thehill.com, Jordan Carney

“The division between the two sides are steep: Democrats want to extend the $600 per week in additional unemployment benefits through early next year. They are proposing roughly $1 trillion in new help for state and local governments and are pushing for priorities like worker protections and a boost in food assistance.

But the White House is increasingly focused on trying to get a smaller deal amid deadlocks on unemployment, state and local aid and liability protections.”
“A deal in a week, negotiators acknowledge, is unlikely.”

‘Progress’ but no deal as coronavirus talks head into next week’, Jordain Carney – 08/01/20, thehill.com

“The hurdles between the two sides are steep: Senate Republicans have introduced a roughly $1 trillion package, while the bill passed by House Democrats was roughly $3 trillion.”  […]

“But there are also serious divisions on other pieces, including additional money for state and local governments. Democrats are proposing an additional $1 trillion, while the GOP package includes more flexibility for the $150 billion already appropriated but no new funding.”

But Democrats have rejected the piecemeal approach [D.Trump’s], wanting one large bill that addresses all of the issues as part of the next coronavirus relief deal.

‘Stimulus checks debate now focuses on size, eligibility’, Naomi Jagoda,  07/31/20, thehill.com

“The two key issues that need resolving: payment amounts for dependents and eligibility requirements.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have put forth direct payment proposals largely similar to the stimulus checks included in the CARES Act from late March that provided checks for most Americans — up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child under 17.”

Yet: Trillions for Wall Street, close to a trillion for War.

Big Fucking Woop: ‘Up to $1200 per adult’.  What a great way to reduce the surplus population.

(cross-posted at caucus99percent.com)

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