America is in crisis.
The ex-president who sent a lynch mob to attack the U.S. Capitol has escaped impeachment — and just received a hero’s welcome at a festival of right-wing political operatives.
The total number of coronavirus deaths in the United States now exceeds 500,000 people.
Early February brought the grim news that the economy added only 49,000 jobs in January — with just 6,000 of those being in the private sector. The New York Times called the January jobs report “evidence of a metastasizing crisis.” The newspaper noted that while December’s job losses were concentrated in a few pandemic-related sectors, “manufacturers, retailers and transportation companies all cut jobs [in January], indicating that the economic damage is spreading.”
The long-term jobless now account for at least 40 percent of all unemployed workers, the biggest share since the aftermath of the recession of 2007-9.
And this metastasizing crisis is about to get worse. On March 14, the current round of jobless benefits begins to expire. Most analysts believe that money is needed immediately if the states are to put a new round of aid in place in time to prevent unemployed workers from losing those benefits.
On February 27, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a new economic stimulus bill. As we go to press, the U.S. Senate is debating the measure. While the final shape of the bill will be important — and is yet to be determined — without the massive turn-out in the 2020 election — and especially in the Georgia U.S. Senate run-offs, most elected officials in Washington would simply be ignoring the millions hit hard by the current crisis. Without the heroic efforts of millions of people who risked their health during a pandemic to vote for candidates pledged to fight for people’s needs, this bill would never even have been introduced.
The final version of the bill will contain some relief for the many who are suffering — but not enough. The millions who used the ballot as a weapon to advance their interests will have to keep the pressure up even after the stimulus package is signed into law.
There is much more work to be done. We have to demand the government raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour — whether in the current stimulus bill or through some other measure. The economic payments in the bill will provide temporary help, but one-time payments will not solve the urgent problems of those without work or with poverty wage work.
Across the country, people are demanding the government act in the interest of the vast majority, not the one percent. This pressure from below must continue. The federal government must be compelled to mass-produce the COVID-19 vaccines and distribute them immediately. If the government has to use the Defense Production Act to seize the pharmaceutical companies or deploy other emergency measures — so be it. Even after the stimulus bill is signed into law, we must continue to fight for income guarantees for all those who need income, for as long as they need it, along with a housing guarantee. And the far-right extremist groups who attacked the U.S. Capitol must be crushed.
More than 80 million people voted for change on Election Day 2020. Their demands must be heeded!
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