A record-breaking 4,000 Americans are now dying each day from Covid-19, while the federal government fumbles vaccine production and distribution, testing and tracing. In the midst of the worst pandemic in 100 years, more than 90 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured and can’t afford to go to a doctor when they get sick. The isolation and anxiety caused by the pandemic has resulted in a huge increase in mental illness.
Over half of American workers are living paycheck to paycheck, including millions of essential workers who put their lives on the line every day. More than 24 million Americans are unemployed, underemployed or have given up looking for work, while hunger in this country is at the highest level in decades.
Because of lack of income, up to 40 million Americans face the threat of eviction, and many owe thousands in back rent. This is on top of the 500,000 who are already homeless.
Meanwhile, the wealthiest people in this country are becoming much richer, and income and wealth inequality are soaring. Incredibly, during the pandemic, 650 billionaires in America have increased their wealth by more than $1tn.
As a result of the pandemic education in this country, from childcare to graduate school, is in chaos. The majority of young people in this country have seen their education disrupted and it is likely that hundreds of colleges will soon cease to exist.
Climate change is ravaging the planet with an unprecedented number of forest fires and extreme weather disturbances. Scientists tell us that we have only a very few years before irreparable damage takes place to our country and the world.
And, in the midst of all this, the foundations of American democracy are under an unprecedented attack. We have a president who is working feverishly to undermine American democracy and incite violence against the very government and constitution he swore to defend. Against all of the evidence, tens of millions of Americans actually believe Trump’s Big Lie that he won this election by a landslide and that victory was stolen from him and his supporters. Armed rightwing militias in support of Trump are being mobilized throughout the country.
In this moment of unprecedented crises, Congress and the Biden administration must respond through unprecedented action. No more business as usual. No more same old, same old.
Democrats, who will now control the White House, the Senate and the House, must summon the courage to demonstrate to the American people that government can effectively and rapidly respond to their pain and anxiety. As the incoming chairman of the Senate budget committee that is exactly what I intend to do.