After months of fruitless negotiation, Congress passed another wave of relief in the face of the pandemic that's killed over 300 thousand Americans and upended daily life in the United States.
Though Democrats in the House passed multiple stimulus packages with greater relief for working Americans—such as the Heroes Act—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to consider them.
The relief package agreed to by Republicans includes only $600 stimulus checks for Americans making under $75 thousand per year. This is half as much as the stimulus checks included in the CARES Act, which was signed into law at the end of March of this year.
The $600 sum is seen as largely insufficient for Americans who've been wrangling with unemployment, lack of childcare, reduced business, and other pandemic-induced obstacles.
On the Senate floor, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) railed against the idea of giving taxpayer money to taxpayers.
Sen. Rand Paul: "If free money were the answer, if money really grew on trees, why not give more free money? Why not give it out all the time? Why stop at $600 a person? Why not $1,000? Why not $2,000?" pic.twitter.com/mBlQ69UQ1H
— The Hill (@thehill) December 21, 2020
"If free money were the answer, if money really grew on trees, why not give more free money? Why not give it out all the time? Why stop at $600 a person? Why not $1,000? Why not $2,000?"
The Senator's opposition to relief for working Americans was largely congruent with his past positions on the threat posed by the pandemic, considering he railed against safety measures to slow the spread of the virus and floated outright false ideas that herd immunity was an effective way to destroy the virus.
Progressive Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), a staunch advocate for greater and additional direct payments, responded to Paul's comments with receipts.
That's funny. I didn't hear Sen. Paul worry about the deficit when he voted to give $1 trillion in tax breaks to the top 1% & large corporations. Yes. We should provide the working class with $2,000 a month during the pandemic like Canada did & repeal the tax breaks for the rich. https://t.co/NXN4Xeb48n
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 22, 2020
Sanders reminded his followers of Paul's support for the 2017 tax bill, which the Congressional Budget Office predicted would add around $1 trillion to the deficit within a decade. Paul wrote an op-ed in support of the bill and voted for its passage.
But when it came time to extend benefits for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund until 2090, Paul voiced opposition, saying, ""It has long been my feeling that we need to address our massive debt in this country."
This hypocrisy showed its face again in Paul's opposition to direct relief.
Prompted by Sanders, people didn't hesitate to call out the Senator and the GOP.
Rand Paul is a garbage human
— Mac 🍽 (@GoodPoliticGuy) December 22, 2020
hypocracy, thy name is GOP.
— Raffi Cavoukian (@Raffi_RC) December 22, 2020
Retroactive stimulus in addition to progressive austerity is the only morally acceptable go forward. The GOP has already shown the nation that they lack the moral fortitude to provide a government that works for all of us.
— Aaron Baumann (@TheReal_AGBeast) December 22, 2020
But all the GOP could muster up was 600.00 for hurting Americans!
— Sanita Kelley (@Niketa007) December 22, 2020
It's always fun to see multimillionaires tell the people they don't really need money to help them through a financial crisis.
— Disgruntled Atheist (@DisgruntledAth1) December 22, 2020
The only time that the sellouts in Washington complain about the deficit is when it comes time to help the actual people instead of their wealthy donors. https://t.co/LCQadobOcx
— OrionPax09 (@OrionPax09) December 22, 2020
Though Paul claimed these relief payments amounted to giving people free money, Twitter users pointed out that this money was supplied by American taxpayers, who paid into a system intended to keep them safe and secure.
What Sen. Paul seems to have forgotten is that the money is the peoples' money. We paid our taxes, and the money is to be used for the good of the people. It is not our fault that Congress ran up the debt so high. Cut your pay Sen. Paul, see how you like it.
— Cannoli Lover (@PineIslander) December 22, 2020
Dear @RandPaul money American workers supplying a % of their income to Congress for the "health & welfare" of the nation is not "free money".
You & the @GOP giving those tax dollars to wealthy people & corporations who literally pay LITTLE to NO TAXES is the "free money" giveaway https://t.co/tULDDBR1ZA
— Becky Bond (@BeckyBo89884843) December 22, 2020
Asshat, that's not free money, it's our money. The save money that pays your fvcking salary. Asshat. @RandPaul https://t.co/h6H40tP8PP
— Happy to be BLUE!!!!💙 (@SnooBlue) December 22, 2020
Outgoing President Donald Trump has not yet signed the legislation.