Democrats in Congress are doing their best to weaken their own Coronavirus relief bill, considering a last-minute plan to further narrow down the list of people who will receive direct stimulus payments.
Meanwhile, a new study finds that the more infectious UK variant of the coronavirus is spreading through the U.S. at an alarming rate.
And lastly, the pandemic has destroyed housing stability for millions of Americans, and new reporting shows that even eviction moratoriums aren’t enough to offset the cost on working families.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Last week, it looked like we had a pretty good thing going. Democrats seemed determined to forge ahead with a coronavirus stimulus bill that was ambitious, at least by their standards, despite Republican opposition.
But after a few days, it’s looking more and more like Joe Biden and the centrist core of the party will start to eat away at their own bill with their habit of “means testing.” That’s a term that gets slung around a lot in political reporting, but it basically just means the bureaucratic tinkering that is the difference between “Medicare for All,” and “Medicare for all people who qualify in a certain income bracket, live in three specific zip codes and go to precisely 2 professional sports games per year.” That’s not a real situation but you get the idea.
What this looks like for stimulus bills, however, is a bit grim. Biden and Democratic leadership are reportedly considering a proposal to narrow down the eligibility requirements for Americans to get a second stimulus payment of $1400. Remember, this is the same check that was supposed to be $2000, but is now $1400, and now may be, well, nothing for a whole lot of people.
According to the Washington Post, the proposal could phase out stimulus checks for people making as little as $50,000 a year in its strictest form. As politicians like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez also pointed out, if Democrats use income estimates from the 2019 tax year to make the cutoff, it could mean that, say, anyone who lost their job in 2020 would miss out on a check because they made too much money before the world as we know it ended.
The solution, as progressives like AOC and Bernie are pointing out, is to do away with the stupid thresholds, and just give everyone the cash. It’s basically the only way to make sure everyone who needs something gets at least a little.
UK Virus Spreading in US
The more-infections strain of Coronavirus first detected in the United Kingdom is spreading quickly across the United States, according to a brand-new study.
The study is still awaiting peer-review, but the Washington Post reports that it appears to confirm the CDC’s forecast from a few weeks ago, when the agency warned that the new strain would become the dominant form of the virus by late March.
There’s good news and bad news there. The bad news is right up top: this strain is more infectious and spreads faster. The good news is that the typical ways of combating the virus like masks, social distancing, and crucially, vaccines, all still work.
And while the UK version is more dangerous than what we’ve dealt with so far, it’s not the South African variant, which is resisting the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. South Africa has suspended its rollout of that particular vaccine, which, fortunately, is just one of many. If that variant makes its way to widespread prevalence in the U.S., we’ll still be able to fight it, but it’s certainly not ideal.
What the presence of these new strains means is that we need to get as many people vaccinated as fast as possible.
Report Shows Housing Crisis Growing
Throughout the pandemic, one of the most devastating trends has been people losing their homes in the widespread economic recession.
A new report by the New York Times found that millions of Americans are still struggling with housing insecurity, and that the government’s haphazard eviction moratoriums are woefully inadequate to deal with the fallout.
The data is grim: one study the Times surveyed showed that renters who lost their jobs in the pandemic have incurred $53 billion in back rent, utilities, and late fees.
The question now becomes what the Biden administration will do to fix this. Because eviction moratoriums, one of the most prominent treatments for the problem, aren’t enough. The Times reports that millions more families move out of apartments due to financial instability before they’re even evicted.
Davin Reed, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia told the Times quote:
“What happens in housing court will miss most of the people who need help. Endquote.
And for those in other situations: behind on rent, bills, or struggling to find a place to stay, a mere moratorium won’t get them back on their feet.
It’s going to take drastic, sweeping overhauls and relief to end a new recession wave of homelessness and insecurity, and it remains to be seen whether our government is up to the task.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
Florida, the state that hosted the fan-packed SuperBowl on Sunday night, leads the nation in reported cases of the UK virus. Local news crews captured crowds of largely unmasked partiers all over downtown Tampa Bay and Ybor (EE-BOAR) city before the big game.
Protesters have taken to the streets in Myanmar to oppose the country’s recent military coup, when the armed forces took elected leaders into custody and re-established their control of the country. One protester told the New York Times quote: “I don’t care if they shoot because under the military, our lives will be dead anyway. Before we die completely, we have to protest.”
In 2021 alone, Republicans across the country in state legislatures have released over 100 voter suppression bills in 28 states, Common Dreams reports. That puts pressure on Democrats at a national level to pass sweeping bills like the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act while they have control of the House and Senate.
A former Trump campaign aid told the UK’s Sunday Times that the former President is quote “happier” since leaving the White House, mostly because he’s off social media. He may be glad to not have to do any work anymore, but we know the second part of that is a lie -- I’d bet big money that his Twitter ban still keeps him up at night.
FEB 8, 2021 - AM QUICKIE
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn