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COVID-19: Super Rich Get Richer

The wealth of America's billionaires increased by nearly 10% over just three weeks as the COVID-19 crisis took hold, according to the Institute for Policy Studies. (QuinceCreative/Pixabay)
The wealth of America's billionaires increased by nearly 10% over just three weeks as the COVID-19 crisis took hold, according to the Institute for Policy Studies. (QuinceCreative/Pixabay)
June 4, 2020

LAS VEGAS -- A former U.S. labor secretary says the $2 trillion CARES Act to address the coronavirus pandemic provided American workers with stimulus checks and extra unemployment payments, but those who benefited most were large corporations, banks and the wealthy.

Robert Reich, who served under President Bill Clinton, says those who needed funds the least have gained the most, through bailout funds, numerous tax credits and deductions.

According to Reich, America's billionaires are at least $120 billion richer than they were at the start of the pandemic.

"And so, you have a picture in which power continues to play a huge role in who gets what, because wealth generates power and power generates more wealth," he states. "That's the vicious cycle we're in."

About 108 million Americans have died from COVID-19 and more than 40 million are jobless. At the same time, rent eviction moratoriums will soon end in half of the states and extra unemployment benefits are set to expire at the end of July.

Reich says the pandemic has shown how vulnerable most Americans are, with more than 9 million people having lost employer-provided health care in the past few months.

"If there was ever a reason for Medicare for All, we can see it now," he stresses. "If there was ever a justification for universal basic income, we can see it now. But these kinds of ideas have been fought tooth and nail."

Reich argues American democracy has become an oligarchy -- with a small group of people in control who maintain their power by pitting citizens against each other.

"Stoking racism or xenophobia or stoking and fueling a kind of anger between the left and the right -- the so-called left and right," he states.

Reich maintains the pandemic has revealed the class structure in America more vividly than anything seen since the 2008 Great Recession, when Wall Street received bailouts but homeowners did not -- which cost many their homes, savings and jobs.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NV