by Eric Zuesse
On December 30th, U.S. Senators voted 80 to 12 not to increase the Covid-19 relief one-time payments from $600 per qualifying person, to $2,000. The same bill had already passed, December 28th, in the U.S. House, by a vote of 322 to 87.
Here is how the great investigative-reporting team of David Sirota and Andrew Perez reported this on December 31st, under the headline “Senate Democrats’ Motion To Concede On $2,000 Checks”,
Only six members of the Senate Democratic Caucus mustered the courage to vote against [Republican leader Mitch] McConnell’s maneuver — [Bernie] Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Chris Van Hollen, Jeff Merkley, Ed Markey and Ron Wyden. Democratic senators in fact provided the majority of the votes for the measure that lets the defense bill proceed without a vote on the $2,000 checks. …
Liberal Economists And Pundits Gave McConnell His Talking Points
McConnell’s crusade to stop direct aid was abetted not only by Senate Democrats’ surrender, but also by media elites who loyally represent the party’s corporate wing and who began promoting canned talking points to undermine the direct aid.
First came a barrage of attacks on the $2,000 checks initiative from [Lawrence] Summers, a former hedge fund executive who as President Barack Obama’s national economic director stymied the push for more stimulus after the 2008 financial crisis.
Then the New York Times’ Paul Krugman pretended the wildly popular initiative is “divisive” and said “the economics aren’t very good.” Timesman Tom Friedman, who married into a real estate empire, called the idea “crazy” and fretted that checks might go to “people who don’t need the help.” The minions of billionaire Michael Bloomberg joined in with a house editorial demanding Congress block the checks.
Meanwhile, only weeks after the Washington Post news page told the harrowing tales of rising poverty and starvation in America, the paper’s editorial board argued against stimulus by insisting that “the economy has healed significantly.”
The Post — which is owned by the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos — argued against the $2,000 checks by saying it is unjust that some rich people might in theory end up benefiting from the proposal. …
All of this noise was quickly weaponized by McConnell, who in a Senate floor speech directly cited Summers and the Post as justification to stop the $2,000 checks to the two thirds of households in his own state who would benefit.
“The liberal economist Larry Summers, President Clinton’s Treasury Secretary and President Obama’s NEC director says, ‘There’s no good economic argument for universal $2,000 checks at this moment.’ McConnell said, adding: “Even the liberal Washington Post today is laughing at the political left demanding more huge giveaways with no relationship to actual need.”
Basically, what Sirota and Perez were reporting is that with the exception of only 12 members in the U.S. Senate and 87 members in the U.S. House, all members of the U.S. Congress are owned 100% by America’s billionaires.
Those billionaires also own and control America’s 100 corporations that sell the most to the U.S. Government and to its allies, firms such as Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon, which derive all or most of their sales — and especially their profits — from selling to those governments, and which therefore are obsessed to keep ‘defense’-spending high (and organization such as NATO going). Since these same people also donate the most to America’s politicians, one can now say that their corporations, and especially the ones which sell the most to the U.S. Government, effectively own the U.S. Government, and are the actual constituency that every U.S. President, and almost every member of the U.S. Congress, represents above all. Consequently, attaching the $600 Covid-19 relief payment, instead of the $2,000 amount, to the annual ‘defense’-spending bill, assured that the $1,400-per-person difference would be able to be spent on companies such as Lockheed Martin, and go into the pockets of America’s billionaires — the people who really count, to ‘democratically’ elected U.S. Government officials.
Whereas the overt, the official, position of the Republican Party was opposing the proposal to increase the $600 to $2,000, the overt, the official, position of the Democratic Party was to support that increase. Why, then, did only 6 of the 46 Democratic Senators (including the ‘independent’ Bernie Sanders) vote in favor of that official position, and only 20 of the 233 Democratic Representatives vote in favor of it? It certainly wasn’t being done in order to please their electorate.
The proposal to increase the $600 to $2,000 was supported by 78% of Americans and opposed by only 17%; so, if the Congress were authentically democratic instead of aristocratic, then the proposal would have passed overwhelmingly. But it’s not. Nor is the U.S. House democratic. And why are they not? (Furthermore, even 73% of Republicans in that nationwide poll supported the proposal to raise the $600 to $2,000; so, even their Party’s official position on this was hostile toward themselves. The only difference between Republican politicians and Democratic politicians is that Democratic ones are lots more hypocritical, claiming that they support ‘workers and regular people’ instead of only their own megadonors.)
On December 31st, The Hill bannered, “Graham calls for stand-alone vote on $2K checks” and reported that,
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) broke with his party’s Senate leader Thursday, calling for a stand-alone vote on $2,000 stimulus checks.
“If you had a stand-alone vote on the $2,000 check, it might pass,” Graham said while appearing on “Fox & Friends.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has knocked the prospect of raising the stimulus checks that are going out to many Americans from $600 to $2,000, vowing the Senate would not pass a stand-alone bill increasing the amount. President Trump has pushed for the increase and the House passed one earlier this week, but most Senate Republicans are wary.
“The Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of Democrats’ rich friends who don’t need the help,” McConnell said.
(The $1,400 difference wouldn’t go to the American people, he was implying: it would instead go “into the hands of Democrats’ rich friends.”)
(Graham’s top donor was the “Republican Jewish Coalition” — extremely wealthy supporters of Israel, the nation that America’s taxpayers already donate $3.8 billion per year to, for it to purchase weapons from the U.S. — and second was employees of the U.S. Department of Defense, which likewise benefits from Senator Graham’s consistent neoconservatism. Fifth was Boeing, which is the second-largest ‘defense’ contractor, after only Lockheed. So: why was he ‘fighting for the little man’ here? It was only theater, to satisfy the voters back home, who need the extra $1,400 far more than Graham’s megadonors do.)
America’s billionaires despise the American public and control both of the political Parties. In fact, at the Presidential level, each contest is always between a Republican nominee and a Democratic nominee, both of whom have been approved by the given Party’s billionaires. The billionaires have an effective veto-power over the nominees of both of the Parties. If the billionaires don’t like a given candidate in the primaries, then not only will that candidate get none of their money, but all of the billionaire-owned-and-or-controlled media will be against that candidate and will spread hostile ‘news’-reports against that person. The public are fooled, because however much the billionaires need to spend in order to fool them, it will be done. Owning the Government is seen by them as being their right, just as has always been the case in every aristocracy throughout history. The difference is that, in America, the billionaires’ Government and their press call this a ‘democracy’, so as to fool the public even more. Only if the American public come to recognize that it’s definitely not a democracy (it’s even a police-state but the billionaires hide that fact from the public) will there be a revolution against the billionaires. However, the billionaires control the public’s mind; so, a second American Revolution — this time to defeat not Britain’s aristocrats but America’s — appears to be impossible. It certainly wouldn’t be supported by any successful American politician. That’s the basic difference between 1776 America and 2021 America. Overthrowing a foreign aristocracy is far easier than overthrowing a domestic one.
This is the reason why the poor, who get hardest hit by plagues and who are getting especially hard hit by Covid-19 in America, will now increasingly become homeless and die. And they’ll be getting the least help.
On December 30th, David Wallace-Wells at New York magazine bannered “America’s Vaccine Rollout Is Already a Disaster” and documented that when compared against UK and Israel — neither of which is among the world’s relatively successful countries at restraining this virus — the U.S. is doing vastly worse than those (unsuccessful) countries at distributing vaccines against it. (Since that magazine is owned by the family of a Democratic billionaire, its report actually ignored all of the countries that have performed effectively against the virus, because none of the best performers were allied with U.S. billionaires. The news-report was true, but was aimed against the Republican Party — specifically the Republican President — instead of opposing the entire American Government, which is actually to blame. It’s partisan propaganda, but truthful — as far as it goes. Even truthful propaganda like that, however, is harmful, because it’s not criticizing the source of the problem, which is all of America’s billionaires — the people who control the U.S. Government. None of them even cares about the source of America’s problem, because they are part of it, and won’t oppose it.)
U.S. actually has even higher percentages of its population infected with Covid-19, and higher percentages dying from it, than Brazil — an infamous basket-case. If this isn’t a pre-revolutionary situation, then nothing could be. How much longer will Americans be deceived, and tolerate this — this “socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor”?
On January 1st, the same reporting team of Sirota and Perez headlined “Schumer Begins 2021 Promising To Fight — Then Immediately Surrenders”, and described how the Democratic leader in the Senate, Senator Schumer, had been promising that “Democrats will not stop fighting” for the $2,000 figure, and within hours cooperated with Republicans to block it from being passed. The reporters concluded:
Schumer doesn’t want any of this out in the open — he wants everyone to think he and his caucus are doing all they can to actually fight for the things they insist they support. But the mask is now off — this morning, he showed what’s really going on here.
Whether or not anyone wants to look at what he showed us remains an open question. The situation is demoralizing, and there is an entire misinformation infrastructure of cable TV news and partisan punditry designed to avert our eyes.
Almost all Democrats in Congress had merely been playing the ‘good cop’ to their Republican counterparts’ ‘bad cop’, in order to get that money to the Pentagon instead of to the public. Getting it to the public would be ‘waste, fraud, and abuse’, but getting it to the Pentagon — the most corrupt Department in an extremely corrupt Government — would be ‘essential for national security’.
Going back and forth between Democrats and Republicans will no longer work and hasn’t worked for a long time now; it has become a dead end, because neither Party is, any longer, either democratic or republican. The problem isn’t the Constitution; it is the individuals who have hired the personnel, in all branches of the U.S. Government, to transform that Constitution into just a piece of parchment and to defile its meaning by lies. That can happen even to the best of constitutions. America now is a limited democracy only on parchment, no longer in practice. It’s a dictatorship (by the billionaires) in practice. This time around, a revolution won’t require a new constitution. It requires, instead, merely new personnel. And that’s a fact. Changing the Constitution won’t get us out of this mess. The problem is more drastic, even though a new Constitution won’t be required. New Amendments (such as, perhaps, this) will be required, but a new Constitution won’t. And those Amendments will be propagandized against ferociously by America’s billionaires. So, all billionaires will need to be removed from power before it happens. Their stranglehold on the American mind must be ended first. Then, the issue of Amendments can be discussed.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.