On Wednesday, the US Senate passed what has been described as the “largest economic stimulus in US history”. The $2 trillion disaster relief bill is expected to cushion the plight of corporations and people in these times of COVID-19.
The coronavirus bill will now go to Congress where speaker Nancy Pelosi hopes members can vote via voice. Several congresspeople are either self–isolating or have been diagnosed with the killer disease.
The package gives hospitals $100 billion, while that amount is quintupled for a fund for struggling corporations. $350 billion goes to small businesses.
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When all is done, Americans who earn $75,000 or less will be given a one-time check of $1,200 and an additional $500 for each child.
Where an adult’s annual gross income is higher than the threshold of $75,000, or $112,500 for a head of household and $150,000 for couples who file returns together, they will get less than $1,200 (a rate of $5 less for every $100 they earn more than $75,000).
It is estimated that about 94% of taxpayers will receive checks.
Critics of the bill, led by the likes of Maxine Waters (D-California) and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, have found fault with the one-time payment.
They have also spoken out against the bill apportioning more money to corporations than hospitals which are the frontline institutions in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus.
The timeliness of this stimulus may have been highlighted by the fact that this week, more than any other in the history of the US, more people filed unemployment claims. A whopping 3.3 million Americans, roughly a hundredth of the country, underscore the density of the need for government intervention.
The Trump administration has sought to claim credit for an unemployment rate that had been in a downward spiral since 2015. The numbers of African-Americans perceivably being put to work has been of particular interest to a president who believes he should be rewarded with the black vote in November.
Trump’s obsession with what number of African-Americans are working obscures the grimmer fact of the same demographic having comparatively “higher unemployment rates, fewer job opportunities, lower pay, poorer benefits, and greater job instability,” according to the liberal Center for American Progress.
But that has been a problem even the first black president could do next to nothing about. Although Barack Obama oversaw a record month-on-month decline in unemployment, African-Americans lagged behind in the issue of the quality of work and quantity of wages.
In 2019, the think-tank Economic Policy Institute concluded that black unemployment was twice as high as that of white people at the end of 2018. Indeed, black unemployment was and is the worst rate of any racial demographic in America.
An Associated Press analysis of job trends in the US found that black employees are severely underrepresented in the highest-paying jobs in the United States.
AP also found that a white worker is more likely to last a while in the 11 categories of jobs that pay the highest median annual salaries. That is $65,000 to $100,000.
The national median annual salary is $36,000 for all occupations. Racial minorities are most likely to be in this specific financial bracket or worse off.
The ratio of white people in management to black people is 10 to 1. The wealth disparity between the two groups is also more than 1000% in favor of whites.
One study published in 2016 found that “it would take Black families 228 years to amass the same amount of wealth White families have today.”
The efficacy of rising tides lifting all boats has been disputed by reality. America’s underwhelming investment into black lives have been spurred by disastrous neoliberalism and assumptive colorblindness.
As the coronavirus forces the roof to cave in, black vulnerabilities will be attacked. African-Americans will be more likely to lose their jobs, healthcare and arguably, lives.
Blacks have less materiality to weather the storm in a country where 44% earn just around $18,000 annually.
Indeed, it has been rumored that Senate Republicans had race on their minds when they insisted that the coronavirus checks had to be one-time. That is a highly presumptive point but it is fed by the fact that conservatives have been the greatest proponents of cutting costs by cutting off America’s most vulnerable.
In the coming weeks when the US will consolidate its hold as the country with the most confirmed cases of the coronavirus, poor black families, already aware of their lot, will brace themselves for the worst impact.