GOP Stimulus is Garbage and Montanans Will Die

Content warning: This post is long; channeling a righteous level of anger and fear that thousands of Montanans are feeling right now. There will be cussing, possibly name-calling, and I won’t apologize for it. But if this situation doesn’t have you angry already, maybe you need to get to this level.

GOP plans for a stimulus package to alleviate the beginning of a severe economic downturn (read: Americans are on the precipice of starvation, homelessness, illness with little-to-no safety net) have been unveiled. And I want to punch things. But I really need this computer because I’m one of the lucky Montanans who is currently able to work from home with no loss of wages or benefits, and I am privileged as hell to be able to type that sentence.

But let’s set the stage for why their plan sucks and why Montanans are going to starve…

Next, take a look at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics regarding wages and jobs in Montana. Pay particular attention to the number of Montanans who work in the following sectors: waiters/waitresses, food service, food preparation, retail clerks/self stockers/cashiers, bartenders and servers, cleaning and sanitation. These hundreds of thousands of Montanans make between $10 and $15 per hour. After a base level of Montana and Federal taxation is removed:

$10 per hour wage in Montana, payable every other week after taxes = $665

 

$15 per hour wage in Montana, payable every other week after taxes = $963

 

It doesn’t take an economist to start seeing the problem for over one hundred thousand workers in Montana. And what will happen when these workers miss even a SINGLE paycheck. Internet/social media chatter has talked about some small stimulus checks that will be mailed to Americans: $1000, maybe an add-on for each child. Again, it doesn’t take a math wizard to see how small a stimulus like this will only forestall the inevitable; Montanans will get to kick that can down the road for maybe one month before the accumulated bills come due.

Governor Bullock’s unemployment benefits streamlining is a step in the right direction, but it does NOT do enough. Unemployment benefits are a fraction per week of your regular paycheck. Do me a favor, visit the MT Unemployment Benefits Calculator and put in your salary and see what your benefits would be. I’ll wait…….. now pick your jaw up off the floor and run those numbers for our fellow Montanans who make $10 or $15 per hour.

Currently, the most you can receive each week is $487 per week; the minimum amount you can receive is $139 per week

Some commodity providers (power, water/sewer, internet, etc) have made pledges to put off monthly payments during this crisis or pledges not to shut people off. That sure looks good in a press release and in one of the dozens of emails I get a day from various companies I do business with letting me know what weak-ass steps they’re taking during this crisis. So what if power company delays bill collection for the month of April – power usage during April isn’t gifted; it won’t be FREE – so come May, you’ll still be expected to pay for what you used. Again, all these offers do is kick the can a few weeks or a month down the road.

Is one month enough time for this to be corrected? No. Expert after expert is expecting this to go on much longer. Montana’s $10 and $15 per hour workers cannot afford food, shelter, power; they cannot afford LIFE. And the time table for this complete and utter breakdown (factoring in low/no savings, low wages, minimal benefits, etc) is freakishly short. It’s for a few weeks. The Fed is predicting an unemployment rate of 30% and a 50% drop in GDP.

I’ve laid out how ugly this is, and how hundreds of thousands of Montanans are on the edge of starvation, eviction, bankruptcy. Now that you know how ugly this is, let’s circle back to the beginning: Why the GOP Stimulus Response is so shitty. The Intelligencer breaks it down so even the most basic voter can “get it”. I recommend reading the whole article, but this quote from paragraph 1 hits home:

The bad news is that they haven’t abandoned their long-standing belief in screwing over poor people just for the sake of it.

The GOP Stimulus contains the standard corporate bailouts and gifts we’ve come to expect from the GOP who delight in privatizing gains and socializing risk. Any illusions we Americans might have had about corporations using their profits and bailouts to assist wage workers should have been obliterated X-many corporate and tax giveaways ago, yet we cling hard to them and continually vote in the GOP grifters who slovenly reward corporations over people. If this crisis has taught us anything, it is that workers (especially low-paid service workers) are nothing but cannon fodder. Purchased for minimal wages in exchange for their time and labor until they can no longer do the labor or the company no longer needs them — and then they are tossed. There are no parachutes for the $10 and $15 wage workers in Montana.

And this column hasn’t even addressed what will happen if low-wage workers (or someone in their family) gets ill. Our medical and health infrastructure was already over-priced and sending Montanans into bankruptcy before a global pandemic. And if you think the wealthy assholes haven’t already begun pushing their financial privilege, you haven’t been paying attention. Yes, poor people will be disproportionally hurt by this pandemic and more of them will die.

And here’s where we’re going to get mad and stand up for the most vulnerable Montanans…

There is no room in Montanan’s lives for shitty GOP Stimulus bills. Every continued moment of silence and inaction by Federal leadership is another second on this clock. People need to be supported and empowered to do the right thing. Federal powers, our tax dollars, and the best minds in their respective fields are what we should be demanding of our leadership.

Greg Gianforte and Steve Daines haven’t met a wealthy tax cut or corporate bailout they didn’t love. They haven’t met a wealthy donor they didn’t cave to. It literally is all about money over people for them. And their concern and bloviating about “life” constantly is now being revealed to be utter bullshit. They only care about life when it’s in a uterus. They don’t care about the lives of hundreds of thousands of Montanans clinging to existence as workplaces close down, paychecks stop, and the pantry begins to empty. They don’t care about the wage workers continuing to stock grocery store shelves, the doctors/nurses/CNAs on the front lines without PPE because the Federal government will not enact the Defense Production Act (seriously, why the fuck hasn’t this happened yet?), or the custodial and janitorial services cleaning up deadly pathogens.

They care about unborn life, wealthy life, life they can politicize to win elections.

Demand that they care about YOUR LIVES, MONTANANS!

Demand that they use your hard-earned tax dollars to keep YOU ALIVE during a global pandemic. 

Demand that any stimulus package they even consider will help protect and save the Montana economy: from the lowest wage worker missing out on wages and tips to the business owners with shuttered doors. We pay into the American coffers — the federal reaction is a necessary support system. 

Anything else is not only a dereliction of duty but is tantamount to murder. COVID-19 has exposed our society and its failings — how we act now will define this generation. Maybe our federal representatives won’t start taking us seriously until Montanans begin to die. I want to know what that death and bankruptcy threshold is for our supposed leaders in Washington, D.C. to give a shit. How many lives are they willing to lay on the altar of “let states handle it”, “here’s more corporate dollar giveaways”, “Rand Paul thinks this is a hoax” before it gets real for them and they begin to do their job? With the exponential spread rate and death percentage of COVID-19, we may find out that number sooner vs later.

Contact Senator Steve Daines (Ph: 202-224-2651) Email Steve Daines here.

Contact Senator Jon Tester (Ph: 202-224-2644) Email Jon Tester here.

Contact Representative Greg Gianforte (Ph: 202-225-3211) Email Greg Gianforte here.

Contact Governor Steve Bullock (Ph: 406-444-3111) Email Steve Bullock here.

Take this action. Talk to our representatives. These are unprecedented times and your involvement is necessary. Lives of Montanans depend on it.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Plains Feminist

Montana and national politics from a Southeastern Montana perspective, focusing on regional activism, womxn’s issues, LGBTQ equality, education, and growth of the Democratic Party. Plains Feminist tries (sometimes fruitfully, sometimes not so much) to connect with the hard-working folks who *eek* out a living on the “not mountains” side of the state. Plains Feminist enjoys intellectual banter over coffee or beer preferably after dark. You can reach her at plainsfeminist@themontanapost.com or on Twitter @PlainsFeminist.

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  • Rand Paul has Covid-19….let’s see how that goes. As for Gianforte and Daines they don’t care if people die. Only the rich should survive in their world. It’s time for a reckoning.

  • this is what is hanging up the passage of help to the country – “tax deductions to solar and wind energy companies, workplace provisions sought by organized labor and new emissions standards for the airlines.” Thanks Senator Schumer for your help during this health and economic crisis!

    • You want to vote Dem in 2020? March 23. Democrats blocking Republican efforts to advance the massive stimulus bill for the second day in a row.

      • Including bailing out the cruise line industry which is hardly a national necessity. Why should they get a damn dime of US taxpayer money when all their ships are flagged (registered) in other countries to avoid paying US taxes? Let them appeal to Malta, Panama, Bahamas etc. if they want some money.

        Why should the guy who made millions making people homeless during the Republican created mortgage/banking crisis (Mnuchin) be given half a trillion dollar slush fund that has absolutely no oversight.

        Impeached President Trump and his minions don’t give a damn about Jack and Jill Lunchbox.

        • Dem Stock Coronavirus Package
          The bill proposed by Pelosi, D-Calif., additionally seeks to eliminate debt held by the U.S. Postal Service, require same-day voter registration, pay off $10,000 in student debt per person, mandate that airlines reduce their overall carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050, and force federal agencies to explain to Congress how they are increasing their usage of “minority banks.”

          And, the legislation would provide for the automatic extension of nonimmigrant visas and restrict colleges from providing information about citizenship status.

          Pelosi’s Coronavirus Stimulus Bill mentions ‘Diversity’ 32 times. The 1,100-page bill would force all corporations receiving aid to fund ‘inclusion initiatives’ for at least 5 years

          People are dying and all Nancy Pelosi and Democrats can focus on is ripping off the American taxpayer to help pay for their liberal wish list of government handouts.

          This is what your fighting for?

          • Here is what your proud representatives are postponing. Thanks Jon Pelosi Tester
            Legislation would include direct payments of $1,200 to many American adults and $500 to children, and would create roughly $850 billion in loan and assistance programs for businesses, states and cities. There would also be large spending increases for the unemployment insurance program, as well as hospitals and health-care providers that are being overwhelmed by the crisis.

      • @mark – You want to vote GOPer in 2020? March 23. Rethuglicans under Moscow Mitch and Greasy Graham continue their efforts to create a FIVE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLAR SLUSH FUND for Mnuchin & Trumpsky to play silly-buggers by demanding quid pro quo with airlines, hotel industry lobbyists, and cruise line plutocrats to funnel 10s of millions of those dollars right back into the pockets of the most corrupt administration in US history.

  • Markets sell off, again, so that Pelosi can write a bill demanding corporate diversity, federal bargaining rights, $15 an hour min wage, airline emissions offsets, and same-day voting. Just the sort of “leader” you want in a crisis. America deserves better. – what does this have to do with helping people in an emergency?

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