We begin this week by calling our Senators and telling them to pass H.R. 6800, the HEROES Act. All our media's been talking about lately was Republicans trying (and failing) to put together a new COVID-19 stimulus/relief bill, but the House has already passed one -- one that would fund our Post Office, fund testing and tracing, fund states and localities, expand working family tax cuts, repeal a tax-cut-for-the-rich, and issue another round of bigger stimulus checks -- so all that needs to happen, really, is for our Senate to pass the HEROES Act and our President to sign it. Really, there is no need for all this drama about giving lawsuit immunity to corporations that make people sick, or exactly which tool they'll use to destroy Social Security under the pandemic's cover. The HEROES Act already does a lot of good, and the only reason the Senate hasn't passed it is because, in Mob Boss Mitch's immortal words, "I get to decide what we vote on." I'm old enough to remember when Democrats had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and still allowed votes on dumb Republican ideas. There's a lesson in there, somewhere.
Speaking of Social Security: while you have your Senators on the phone, make sure you tell them that Mitt Romney's notorious TRUST Act -- which would allow Congress to cut your Social Security benefits without all that pesky debate, or, as Sen. Ernst put it, "behind closed doors" -- should not be in any COVID-19 relief bill. (The Alliance for Retired Americans also provides a petition to sign.) Yes, Sen. McConnell (E-KY) has lately said the TRUST Act will be in the Republican relief proposal, and why? Because cutting Social Security benefits is hugely unpopular and can only be done in an "emergency" -- and any emergency, including a pandemic, will do. Can we assume Democrats will say no to the inclusion of the TRUST Act in any relief bill? We can trust that they'll make noise about it, certainly -- but we cannot trust that they won't cave to the "pressure" of "doing something." Not unless we make it impossible for them to cave, that is. I'm pretty sure that's all that's kept Democrats from caving so far.
Of course, passing the HEROES Act doesn't obligate us to shut up about even better ideas, and so Change.org helps you tell your Congressfolk to provide $2,000 a month to every adult and $1,000 to every child, per month, until the pandemic is over. Most civilized nations are doing more than we are -- basically, we've given Americans single $1,200 checks and funneled hundreds of billions of dollars into corporate coffers. This proposal resembles proposals from Sen. Sanders and Rep. Waters; this one would cost roughly $3.25 trillion over four months, and how will the haters respond? By saying it would increase the deficit? Boy, has that ship sailed! Certainly no one can claim "concern" about the deficit if they supported the 2017 tax "reform," not to mention the $3 trillion-plus CARES Act that just passed in March -- and such folks should support a 91% tax bracket on millionaire income, a billionaire wealth tax, and an expanded Estate Tax. You very likely already know why they don't.
And besides his evil payroll tax cut, what has our President insisted upon for the next COVID-19 relief bill? That it zero out federal funding for COVID-19 testing, of course! Gosh, it's like he's trying to make everything worse, which (regardless of our President's stated admiration for Richard Nixon) is straight out of the George W. Bush playbook: when you've screwed up, divert attention from it by doing something even more horrible. Admittedly this President has taken that stratagem to a whole new level, but I remember how Tha Bush Mobb operated, even if today's right-wingers pretend they don't. Hence Penn PIRG helps you tell your Senators to include COVID-19 testing and tracing in the next coronavirus relief bill. Yes, the HEROES Act already has it, but a lot of time we need to tell them the same thing over and over again in a slightly different manner before they finally get it. And as I've already suggested, those who want to do the right thing but lack courage need the cover of massive public outcry.