With four months gone by since the first – and maybe the last – federal stimulus package during the COVID-19 crisis, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warns that politics-as-usual in Mitch McConnell’s Senate threatens further relief from Washington.
During a Thursday press conference, Ocasio-Cortez suggested that there should have been multiple stimulus bills at this point in the crisis bring local economies to their knees, but she believes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is holding additional help up to coerce the Democrats into doing something they may not otherwise favor.
“Right now we’re at the precipice, if we think things are getting hot right now in New York City in terms of crime, the $600 pandemic unemployment assistance is set to expire in about two weeks. That is a ticking time bomb,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “My reading of the tea leaves is that Mitch McConnell is intentionally waiting for pandemic unemployment assistance to expire to increase his leverage with people’s lives.”
According to the Queens/Bronx Democrat, the Republican senior senator from Kentucky has not given any indication to other political leaders in the nations capital of when he plans to bring the HEROES Act to the floor of the Senate, nor are circumstances clear in which he would agree to do so.
In the past, McConnell has called the HEROES Act a “blue state bailout” on account of New York, New Jersey and other Democratic states displaying high COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.
Since then, the numbers have shifted as Arizona, Texas and Florida are epicenters of the virus as well as California which has gone back under lockdown orders.
Without extra help from Washington, AOC believes the state then needs to step up and provide it — and should tax the rich in order to pay for it.
“If Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump choose to starve the American people in the middle of a pandemic, I believe that the state has a responsibility to act. We should be raising taxes on our millionaires in the state of New York in order raise the crucial funds needed in order to provide the relief that is necessary,” she continued. “Now we are in a situation where we really, really need to pass something in the next two weeks. He may be trying to position Democrats into swallowing a poison pill of some kind that he wants to get passed.”
This poison pill could come in similar form to the corporate bailout that was attached to the CARES Act near the end of March, Ocasio-Cortez said.
While $292 billion from the $2 trillion CARES Act went to individuals in the form of $1,200 and unemployment support, up to $257 billion went to corporations such as Boing and large banking institutions.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, for example, received $3.8 billion; only about half of what they need to make it through 2020 at this rate to avoid a $10 billion deficit.
Meanwhile, local governments such as the City of New York have been forced into major budget cuts while the state has offer them approval to take out loans to cover operating costs.
This story first appeared on amny.com.