Lately, it doesn’t take much to remind Americans of how badly their government is failing them. Still, sometimes another country casts our incompetence in stark relief.
French government to continue paying up to 84% of salaries for furloughed workers "until next summer" due to prolonged economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. https://t.co/EBe1yFEcY7 pic.twitter.com/fQVqCtSND5
— ABC News (@ABC) September 10, 2020
According to the report, “France has already spent tens of billions of euros on the temporary unemployment scheme since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.” The extension of salary payments is part of France’s latest 100 billion euro COVID-19 stimulus package.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a new COVID-19 relief bill is unlikely for the United States until at least November. Democrats blocked Republicans’ latest proposal, which included stripped down unemployment benefits, no money for municipalities and cities facing major layoffs, and more liability protection for businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits. House Democrats passed a $3.4 trillion bill back in May that Republicans rejected before letting the benefits from the $2 trillion Cares Act—which included $600 per week in federal unemployment—lapse in July. As of now, Americans are faced with no federal unemployment relief or eviction protections as (some) state governments try to pick up the slack.
There are a number of problems with American society, but somewhere near the top is the government’s complete disinterest in providing people basic relief for its people. The United States has failed in so many ways during the pandemic, but Congress’ inability to supply basic, common sense relief for Americans is a straight up embarrassment. Republicans have worked tirelessly for decades to gut social programs and withhold any sort of benefits from poor and working class Americans; the result is a husk of a country unwilling to help its people and unable to control a pandemic that other countries were able to corral within a few months.
In an ideal world, the COVID-19 pandemic was the perfect opportunity for America to disabuse itself of the “welfare state” mindset branded into our collective psyche. The president could have encouraged and empowered people (and not lied to our faces), Congress could have worked together to provide reasonable relief, and the benefits that have been so greedily withheld from Americans for so long could help nurse the country back to economic—and actual—health. But even writing that out into a complete sentence feels silly. Instead, America just continues failing, being lapped by countries who actually care about their own people.