Outgoing President Donald Trump threw a wrench into months of delayed pandemic relief negotiations earlier this month when he slammed the long-awaited bipartisan stimulus package passed by Congress.
A major point of contention was the paltry $600 direct relief checks to Americans making under $75 thousand per year. With the pandemic leaving millions unemployed, Democrats called for higher amounts, but didn't have the necessary Republican support.
Trump signaled last week that he wouldn't sign the bill, calling instead for two thousand dollar relief checks instead of $600, in addition to calls for the repeal of Section 230 rules granting liability protections for social media outlets and for a congressional investigation into baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump's bluff and echoed his calls for $2000 stimulus checks. The House soon passed a standalone bill increasing the direct relief amount called the CASH Act.
This put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in the unenviable position of deciding whether to support the increase or to be the one preventing it just ahead of a pair of elections that will determine which party controls the Senate in 2021.
While some hoped the rare agreement between Trump and congressional Democrats would pressure congressional Republicans enough to boost direct relief, McConnell is still fighting the effort.
McConnell is refusing to consider the CASH Act, only expressing openness to legislation that revokes Section 230 and amplifies lies about voter fraud in addition to expanded relief.
In an objection to Senate Democrats' calls to increase relief, McConnell decried the checks as "socialism for the rich."
McConnell claimed Senator Bernie Sanders' (D-VT) statements in support of the relief boost would disproportionately benefit rich people who don't need the income:
"Borrowing from our grandkids to do socialism for rich people is a terrible way to get help for families who actually need it."
The CASH Act replaces all mentions of $600 in stimulus relief with "$2000" in the current legislation already passed by Congress. This legislation also excludes anyone making more than $75 thousand per year from full direct relief payments and fully caps these payments for those at over $84 thousand per year.
As Senate Majority Leader, McConnell—whose net worth is around $22 million—wholeheartedly supported Trump's 2017 tax bill, which helped billionaires pay less in taxes than blue collar Americans. The omnibus included in the pandemic relief package endorsed by McConnell just days ago provides tax cuts to racehorse owners and allots for three-martini lunches for Congress members.
Senator Sanders—a famous supporter of working class rights and critic of America's gaping wealth gap—called out McConnell's hypocrisy shortly after.
"The Majority Leader helped lead this body to pass Trump's tax bill. You want to talk about socialism for the rich, Mr. Majority Leader? Under that bill, Charles Koch, one of the very richest people in America, he has a net worth of $113 billion. That bill gave Mr. Koch a $1.4 billion tax break."
MSNBC anchor Joy Reid scoffed at McConnell's declaration that increased relief would disproportionately benefit the rich, and soon she called on her Twitter followers to share just how "rich" they are.
The answers reflected the urgency with which Americans need substantial relief.
McConnell's hypocrisy was blasted across the internet.
The future of the expanded relief is still unclear.