A $2.3 Trillion Stimulus Package, What’s in it for Me?
From our homes in Vienna, Solidarity Sundays activists conducted an online oversight hearing on the US government’s response to the COVID-19 unemployment crisis. At $2.3 trillion, the CARES Act is the largest economic stimulus bill in modern history. DA Vice Chair Juan Cerda showed us where the money is going.
30%: Individuals and Families are receiving $1,200 tax rebates from the IRS. Individuals require a Social Security number, couples filing jointly both need Social Security numbers. Families receive an additional $500 for each child under 18. The rebate is reduced for high-income earners. The federal government is topping up state unemployment payments by $600 per week, and gig workers and freelancers are included.
25%: Large corporations taking federal loans are barred from engaging in stock buybacks (but may offset COVID losses against past profits to increase their payouts). The largest group benefiting from the stimulus: commercial and cargo airlines, and their contractors.
19%: The loan pool for small businesses to keep employees on the payroll, all $350 bn of it, ran out in 13 days. An additional stimulus bill was passed with $310 bn. Banks disperse the loans, so businesses without bank relationships — Mom and Pop stores, neighborhood cafés — are locked out. The biggest portion went to companies with large market capitalization.
17%: At the insistence of Sen. McConnell, state & local government grants are restricted to COVID-19 expenditures and cannot cover budget deficits. States project revenue losses of $500 bn for the next two years.
9%: Public service grants are earmarked for healthcare providers, Medicare payments to virus patients, the Strategic National Stockpile, the CDC, and food security programs.
Juan ended by highlighting who is left out of the stimulus: the undocumented and nonresidents who make up our most vulnerable — that is, essential — workers during the pandemic. Also excluded are DACA recipients, small business owners, Indian reservations, and those unable to file unemployment claims due to system overload.
After our oversight hearing, Sunday’s attendees recorded messages for a short video. Why? Tanya Lolonis explained that social media is where the war for November is being fought, and the GOP has a huge structural advantage: they spent 40 years hating the media and building their own news ecosystem. Republican groups are adept at creating content and pushing it onto Facebook. Democrats are outgunned by Fox, Breitbart, and 1,000 outlets you have never heard of.
So we looked at how everyone can amplify our progressive message on social media. Text, photos, sounds, and videos (like ours!) are pieces of content. Using the supercomputer in our pockets, we can share that content with dozens or hundreds of our contacts. Want your content to be engaging so your friends will share it with their friends? Emotions drive engagement, and nothing is speedier than rage. Awe and wonder, emotions increasing desire for emotional connection, come a close second. This is why posting your personal story moves faster and further on social media.
Here are two things you can do from quarantine to help Democrats in November. One, we need phone bankers. We need a lot of people to each make a few calls. We need you now. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll show you how easy it is to do from home. And two, use that pocket supercomputer of yours to share content and amplify our progressive message. Create content, and visit Democrats Abroad Austria on social media and share ours: find us on Twitter (@DemsAustria), Facebook (Democrats Abroad Austria) and Instagram (demsaustria).
– Tanya Lolonis