Askia MuhammadColumnistsOp-EdOpinion

MUHAMMAD: GOP Steals Democrats’ Lunch Money

To this day, I can barely swim, even though there was an Olympic-sized public swimming pool with free lessons available, just four blocks from the house in which I grew up.

You see, it cost 15 cents to get into the pool at South Park in Los Angeles. All the thug-boys in the neighborhood knew this, and they would walk along the line of those waiting for the pool to open and pat the pockets of us squares waiting, to hear the change jingle in our pants. They would take my swimming pool money, so most times, I could not get into the pool.

The same thing happened with lunch money, only I was spared because I carried my lunch to school in one of those colorful metal lunchboxes with a thermos bottle of cold milk, all the way through junior high, and then in a brown paper bag in high school.

Well today, the modern version of the thug boys taking the lunch money of the dorky little nerds has played out on the trillion-dollar scale on Capitol Hill. The dweebs (Democrats) got fleeced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and President Donald J. Trump, in the form of two coronavirus rescue bills, which largely resulted in buckets of money being shoveled out to the wealthy and to the big corporations, and very, very little going to us average squares.

In the first, $2 trillion stimulus package, the feckless Democrats who have a House majority went along with GOP Senate demands that the District of Columbia be treated like a U.S. territory, instead of like a state as it is for most funding guidelines. That meant D.C. was fleeced of more than $500 billion it should have received. In addition, the U.S. Postal Service was knocked to its knees, unable to get the $10 billion in loans to keep mail delivery affordable and consistent. Next time, was the promise.

Small businesses which were supposed to get some payroll relief, found all the allocated money had been snatched up by big corporations, whose stockholders were shielded from losses by government bailout money, and major universities with huge endowments also fed their faces at the government trough. For the little guys, that money was all spent before they could even get their applications into the system!

In the second recovery effort, a few more smaller-to-medium-sized businesses got some relief, but the poor, vulnerable workers were squeezed by profiteering businesses like meat slaughterhouses (literal incubators for COVID-19) and required to work in unsafe conditions, so that their wealthy owners could keep their pockets full. The farmers and ranchers were getting less money for their products, while the sucker-customers on the retail end of the equation were paying record-high prices! What a racket!

Then, as soon as the GOP got what it wanted with acquiescence from House Democrats, they said: “The tap is closed. We can’t afford any more bailouts.” So all the makeovers for the little guys — hazard pay for below-living-wage slaves in dangerous jobs, the Post Office, D.C. and its Metro transit system among them — were literally told to “fuhgeddaboutit” because the tap is now permanently closed.

Instead of going along with the GOP giveaways at the beginning, the Dems should have said “No.” No big-bank bailouts unless they got something for the ordinary folks. They can read. They did not have to wait until that garbage was signed into law and the money was disbursed before they realized that it was another boondoggle for the rich.

So now, here the Democratic leaders — with some complaints from some of their own red-state caucus members — have passed what they call the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion package meant to correct the flaws of the first two hastily passed and signed bills.

Despite the fact that since March, 36 million people have lost their jobs — the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s — the Republicans have said that the Democratic legislation is officially “dead on arrival” in the Senate — just like President Barack Obama’s nomination of federal Judge Merrick Garland to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court.

The rich bullies got what they wanted from the dweebs, and then said “No.”

Now, bars and beaches are rapidly reopening — public health be damned — and some professional sports are issuing that normal-looking pablum to the gullible public via television, and everyone is now supposed to be happy because things appear “normal” on the surface, and the gun-toting “reopen” demonstrators are once again “free” to go to nail salons, bars and restaurants. Bon appetit.

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Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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