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Marie Antoinette’s legacy makes a comeback as comparisons are drawn between her and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: Getty Images
Marie Antoinette’s legacy makes a comeback as comparisons are drawn between her and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: Getty Image

$600? These memes say it all, capturing the collective disappointment for new COVID relief

"Where can I buy a guillotine? Asking for a friend."

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Sunday, Dec. 20, that “the four leaders of the Senate and the House finalized an agreement" on a COVID-19 relief package, avoiding a government shutdown and settling on much-needed coronavirus relief funding. 

Congressional leaders reached agreement on a $900 billion stimulus package that will provide direct payments and jobless aid to struggling Americans amid COVID-19, and funds to aid small businesses, hospitals, schools and the vaccine distribution process.

However the attention of the masses wasn’t on the $900 billion dollars in the package. 

Instead, all eyes fell on a single figure: $600.

It’s the amount each qualifying adult will receive in the form of a stimulus check. Yes, just like the $1,200 checks the government distributed in the Spring, except it’s a whole lot less, during the most powerful wave of the virus the nation has seen. 

Households will receive $600 for each adult and $600 for each dependent, instead of $1,200 and $500, respectively, as seen in the first round.

Instead of passing policies that meet the scale of the crisis, Congress passed a deal that cut it by half, a move the New York Times Editorial Board called, “Good enough,” to the dismay of readers who soon realized the disconnect between the distinguished opinion writers and their viewership. 

But there is some good news.

The stimulus comes with qualifying changes for mixed-status families. Family members of undocumented immigrants are now eligible to get stimulus checks under the $900 billion deal. That eligibility is retroactive, meaning adults excluded in the first stimulus check may now receive up to $1800. 

These households would get payments based on the number of eligible people in the households, as opposed to being omitted as they were in the first round.

As for jobless aid, workers would be eligible for a $300-a-week federal unemployment subsidy. Similar to the previous aid package, “gig” workers and those who don’t ordinarily qualify for benefits would be eligible for jobless aid. 

In rental Assistance, the bill provides $25 billion to tenants in owed rent. It also extends a federal eviction prohibition until the end of January 2021, which the incoming Biden administration may extend again, reported the Wall Street Journal.

A bulk of the funding passed in the bill —$323 billion— will go to small businesses, though as witnessed in the first round of aid, these may in fact be giant organizations, and not the struggling businesses the nation had in mind. 

Airlines, banks, farms, entertainment venues, transit systems, small businesses ( through PPP Loans), and the U.S. Postal Service, will each also receive billions in aid meant to mitigate job losses and loss of revenue. 

Besides the PPP loans, the bill would extend a tax credit for struggling employers who keep workers on the payroll, letting certain recipients qualify based on their 2019 incomes. The WSJ reports that in some cases, lower 2020 incomes could reduce their eligibility.

Is that you, Marie Antoinette? 
Many people are insulted by Congress' proposed $600 stimulus checks, leading them to reference the infamously ‘let them eat cake’ quote commonly — though inaccurately— attributed to Marie Antoinette when she proposed cake after learning her subjects were suffering during a famine.

People took to Twitter to draw the comparisons between the ill-fated queen and McConnell. 

 

 

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