Lauren Martinchek
Perhaps the One Thing All American Voters Can Agree On

A response to the coronavirus relief bill.

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Today, the long awaited coronavirus relief bill that appears likely to be implemented has finally been unveiled to the American people. Unfortunately, and as to be expected, it doesn’t go nearly far enough.

Evidently, the American people on average will be sent one time checks of $1,200 dollars. The numbers change to $2,400 if being sent to married couples filed jointly, and $500 dollars per child. But of course, the bill isn’t nearly that simple beneath the surface.

In their breakdown of the bill, CNBC writes:

But you have to meet certain qualifications in order to be eligible for the money, based on your adjusted gross income in your latest tax returns. If you earn more than $75,000 as an individual, $112,500 as the head of household or $150,000 if you are married and filing jointly, the amount of those checks starts to get reduced.

…Checks will be reduced by $5 for every $100 exceeding those thresholds. It completely phases out at $99,000 in income for individuals, $146,500 for head of household filers with one child and $198,000 for joint filers with no children.

$1,200 is not enough.

I am fortunate enough to still have my job but if I didn’t, even living in one of the most rural and poorest parts of New York state that check would probably cover my nearly $700 dollar a month rent, internet bill, electric bill, phone bill, groceries, and gas for my car. I might have around 100 left over, which I would not have if I had a car payment to worry about (I bought my Mom’s old one from her a couple years ago). That 100 wouldn’t last if I had a random expense pop up like a car tire replacement, or if I paid car insurance monthly as opposed to the lump sum which I set aside for and fortunately already paid. For the sake of this argument, I didn’t even bother to include my Netflix, HULU, or Apple Music subscriptions which millions of others have as well. Subscriptions — I might add — that happen to be all that’s keeping many of us sane in these terrifying times.

When all is said and done, even in the poorest parts of my state many of us probably wouldn’t have a penny left over.

As much of a letdown as it is for people living in my area, this bill is not even going to scratch the surface for working class families living further down state. Will it be enough to help those out in California? Not even close. This might cover the cost of utilities, a round of groceries, and maybe a car payment too for a lot of people, but millions of Americans are still going to be going to bed terrified of what’s going to happen next.

It should also go without saying that a one time payment, especially with such an insignificant amount, is not going to be nearly enough to get people through what is shaping up to be a months long ordeal. As this virus continues to spread, no one should be asking how they’re going to survive the next month. The stress and the trauma that we are unnecessarily putting millions of people through by not guaranteeing their stability right now is absolutely unforgivable, considering at this very moment the Federal Government is loaning out $1 trillion dollars a day to the big banks for the duration of this crisis.

All that being said, perhaps the most devastating thing about this massively disappointing bill is the requirement of a valid social security number in order to get one. That leaves the over ten million undocumented citizens without a check, ignoring their contributions to this country, the fact that they pay taxes, too, and their humanity in general. Millions of these undocumented citizens who call this country home are going to be waiting out this crisis with little to no relief, and that is undeniably criminal.

There needs to be $2,000 dollar monthly checks sent to every American living in this country regardless of their immigration status, $4,000 for joint filers, and at least $750 per child for the duration of this crisis. Means testing should be taken out of the equation immediately, and instead the money should be taken back from those who certainly didn’t need it through taxes later on. If such a bill were to pass, the real, people driven economy — not just the stock market — would bounce back far quicker when all of this is over. But most importantly of all, Americans would feel safe and secure, knowing they are able to keep the lights on and food on the table for themselves and their families.

We are living through an unprecedented, terrifying moment in American history as capitalism crumbles around the world. Now is not the time to insult us with crumbs.

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