Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz is nothing if not a beacon of truth telling. Unless that truth doesn't benefit him directly. Amid stalled negotiations between Congressional lawmakers hoping to secure a relief package for Americans struggling under the economic challenges wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, Cruz took to Twitter on Monday to make light of the dire situation.
After Democratic Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey suggested that every American receive “$2000/month for the duration of the pandemic, $2000/month for 3 months after that, and $2000/month retroactive to March,” in order to offset the economic challenges caused by the pandemic, Cruz derided the plan by invoking a tried-and-true Republican trope: the soy latte.
“Why be so cheap?” Cruz asked. “Give everyone $1 million a day, every day, forever. And three soy lattes a day. And a foot massage. We have a magic money tree — we should use it!”
Cruz, who made light of mass economic despair plaguing millions in America, is, of course, just among the many Republicans to push back against any sort of reform aid. Conservatives have long used sensationalist rhetoric around the spending of middle and working class Americans to sidestep inconvenient truths about just how hard it is to stretch a dollar in today’s current economic climate.
And it’s not just politicians who rely on dangerous ideas about laziness and frivolous spending in order to dismiss concerns about wage stagnation: In a widely ridiculed “sample budget” designed to show how its employees could easily sustain themselves on a minimum wage salary, McDonald’s famously allotted only $20 a month to health insurance spending, and also used money earned at a second job to calculate net income.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Republicans have fallen back on one of their most-relied on talking points to suggest that “government handouts,” like the $600 weekly federal stimulus benefit that expired in July, disincentivizes people from getting back to work.
But that's far from the truth of the matter. In fact, research has repeatedly shown that direct cash transfers — sometimes referred to as universal basic income, or “mincome,” for short — have no impact on an individual’s propensity to perform labor.
“It's not a goddamn joke Ted,” Markey, who is currently campaigning against Rep. Joe Kennedy III ahead of Massachusetts’ September 1 primary election, replied. “Millions of families are facing hunger, the threat of eviction, and the loss of their health care during a pandemic that is worsening every day. Get real.”
Cruz, for his part, is one to talk about money growing on trees, especially when considering that he supported the Republican-backed plan to earmark $500 billion in loans from the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve to be used in order to revive struggling businesses. It's also worth noting that Cruz himself even personally spearheaded an initiative to expand that program to include much larger companies, and sought to increase the maximum loan amount from $150 million to $200 million for struggling companies.
As for the line about the foot massages, yes, of course it’s disgusting coming from Ted Cruz, but as history tells us, that’s not really his thing anyway. Plus, who drinks soy lattes anymore? A word to Ted: next time if you want to make a joke at the expense of millennials, oat milk is the superior punchline.