Stimulus bill sparks reality show idea: Freeze pay of Congress members, give them $600 to live on

In the $900 billion follow-up COVID-related economic relief bill finally agreed to by Congress on Sunday, each American is set to receive a $600 stimulus check, constituting 50 percent of the first stimulus payment provided by the original legislation.

The long-awaited bipartisan compromise prompted Twitter user Eli Yudin to quip about the potential pittance that “Members of Congress got paid $130,000 to spend 9 months arguing about whether we deserve $600.”

U.S. Senators and House members, who haven’t lost a dime in income during the pandemic, receive a base salary of $174,000 per year plus lavish benefits. They get more if they serve in what might be euphemistically called the leadership.

The legislation that could be voted on as early as today also includes extended unemployment benefits of up to $300 per week. Taxpayers will reportedly receive $600 for each dependent.

Against the backdrop of millions of private-sector Americans who have been furloughed or lost their jobs, and the businesses that have shut their doors permanently as a result of coronavirus-prompted lockdowns, journalist Adriana Cohen pointed out that “Power-hungry governors, mayors and other government officials throughout the country are taking home paychecks while shutting down small businesses and restricting millions of workers from earning a living and providing for their families…

“We’re operating under a grossly unfair and unethical system where almighty government officials don’t suffer any financial hardship during the pandemic while taxpayers — who fund their salaries – get kicked in the shins,” she added.

Cohen also highlighted a few among the long list of hypocritical Democrat elected officials who have flouted their own coronavirus restrictions, including Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is facing a potential recall.

State and local government workers have not lost a paycheck during the pandemic either. That also holds true for teachers and their union representatives who continue to vehemently oppose the resumption of in-person, K-12 learning.

According to the Washington Post, “The single-biggest expenditure in the legislation is about $325 billion in business relief, including about $275 billion for another round of Paycheck Protection Program funding. The legislation also includes $45 billion for transportation needs such as state transportation departments and Amtrak, $82 billion for schools, $20 billion for vaccine distribution, and $13 billion for a major expansion in food stamps.” An additional $.14 billion for the border wall is also reportedly included.

Optimists can hope that this massive amount of government spending will ultimately trickle down to rank-and-file workers, the cohort that should be the primary beneficiaries.

Upon announcing the deal that he brokered with Democrat counterpart Chuck Schumer, GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called out Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for holding up the legislation because they were dead-set against giving President Donald Trump a win:

“The package that will shortly become law falls exactly within the ballpark of what Senate Republicans have been proposing and trying to pass since last summer…There is no doubt this new agreement contains input from our Democratic colleagues. It is bipartisan. But these matters could have been settled long ago. So why did it take all this time? We know why.

“We have heard Democrats say openly that they were not willing to deal all summer and fall, but are willing now, because they now have a President-elect of their own political party. That’s not my accusation … that’s their admission.”

Here is a sample of the response, seemingly from across the ideological spectrum, to the direct-to-consumer stimulus check to be doled out by the feds:

Robert Jonathan

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