No, Mnuchin didn’t say people can live on $ 17 a day. But what he said was bad enough


That they eat cake? Sorry for the disappointment, but Marie-Antoinette never said that exactly, or perhaps even the French expression “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”, as the Encyclopedia Britannica explains.

The translation is “Let them eat brioche”, in reference to egg bread. But that’s little improvement when people, taking a moment between sharpening forks and preparing torches, complain that they can’t afford a basic part of life, let alone a luxury. .

Apparently, similar sayings have been attributed to the disgrace of the nobility for centuries. The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau mentioned the story in his writings, not attributing it to “a great princess” until a year when the future wife of Louis XVI was still a child. It was a rumor, however likely the sentiment was, given the state of the Old Regime and those who ruled it.

Such rumors can start in modern times – Al Gore allegedly invented the Internet, although he did refer to using legislation to create a commercially viable service as we know it. And yet, at times the damning language is captured for posterity, like this clip from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Face the Nation on March 29, 2020:

To be fair, the headline that Mnuchin said people should be able to live for ten weeks on $ 1,200 – $ 120 a week or, or $ 17 a day – is misleading. Referring to small business loans, rising unemployment and “bridging cash” payments of $ 1,200, he said there should be enough to help people get through 10 weeks of shutdown.

However, however, a repeating triplet for these times. As Mnuchin noted, getting things done quickly and accurately is key. If the money is not available quickly enough, a larger total does not matter. And since he didn’t note, what people get, or don’t get, will vary widely.

Totals also matter. As the moderator of the video noted, “$ 12 cents takes you much further to Nebraska than to California.” And unemployment will also be different, if you were able to get it like many did not.

Using the Institute of Economic Policy Family Budget Calculator and choosing Omaha, Nebraska, and Oakland, CA, here are the monthly costs, daily totals, extended unemployment income (using averages), and daily income for a household of two adults, two children and one with one earner family and two children.

The lockdown total and daily costs subtract child care (assuming the kids are at home) and transportation (because no one is going anywhere much).

The administration is correct in a way. Yes adults in a family are entitled to an average unemployment benefit, which probably means personal income above the median given the average weighting of the highest incomes on the rise. if you assume that the payments of $ 1,200 are coming very soon, there is enough money to go on.

Two if too many. Millions of adults are going to be significantly below these personal income levels, those who are self-employed or working odd jobs find they have to wait for states to revamp their unemployment systems to accommodate them, and there there is no conceivable way that everyone will receive the on-time payments immediately, which means that they have to effectively fund this part.

With that in mind, daily incomes could easily drop by $ 100 or more, leaving families unable to afford their way and dependent on homeowners, stores and others to lower prices or even write off amounts. Some owners are already doing this. Many others – probably most – are not and will not lack legal compulsion.

Much larger sums of money are directed to businesses of all sizes. But how many will maintain the staff, even with loans that are for this very action? Will the federal government keep an eye on those who guard people and punish those who haven’t? Are there the resources, the time or even the inclination to challenge everything legally?

On a battlefield amid the carnage of war – or, today, when battling a pandemic in intensive care units – medical staff sometimes have to triage and provide services to those they need. decides to have a chance to recover.

The triage is practiced instantly without prejudice, because no one knows before the examination who could live or not. The administration and the two parties in both houses of Congress have done what they often do. They have designed a package for what they know which is middle class living. Which, for many elected officials, given their propensity to acquire wealth, may appear to be relative poverty.

The poor don’t exist. Low income people don’t exist. How could they survive if they are not initially in sight? But at the same time they are essential. One always expects to grow up, to gather, deliver and sell food, to keep records for sales of other important commodities. To clean hospital floors of vomit, pus and sweat. And the tears. But if there is a little more or less, who will notice? And so, we design our rescue systems and disguise our true attitudes.

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