On the eve of the 2020 Republican National Convention, a progressive advocacy group representing 15,000 unemployed workers on Sunday projected onto a Charlotte, North Carolina hotel the photos and stories of jobless workers struggling to meet basic needs after the GOP allowed the $600-per-week unemployment benefit boost to expire last month, slashing the incomes of some 30 million Americans.
“It’s unbearable that the Republican Party and the Trump administration are celebrating and campaigning while millions of families are suffering because they refuse to extend the $600 benefit that was keeping us afloat,” Cynthia Rizzo of Unemployed Action said in a statement. “I want them to see the faces of people who are struggling because of their inaction.”
“Republicans caused this unemployment crisis by botching the response to Covid, and then abandoned us to face eviction, hunger, and debt on our own.”
—Cynthia Rizzo, Unemployed Action
“I can’t support myself and my granddaughter on $225 a week,” said Rizzo, who lives in Roxboro, North Carolina. “Republicans caused this unemployment crisis by botching the response to Covid, and then abandoned us to face eviction, hunger, and debt on our own.”
While the Republican convention will largely take place virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, some Republican leaders are expected to appear physically in Charlotte, the originally planned site of the event.
Republican officials who arrived in Charlotte Sunday evening may have spotted the massive projections on building of the Hilton Garden Inn, a hotel located just blocks away from the convention site.
“I don’t have any family, and few friends. Losing my job was terrifying. I don’t have anyone to turn to,” read one of the projections. “The only way I was able to survive was because of the extra $600.”
“I worked as a server. My rent alone is more than unemployment, and my landlord isn’t being understanding,” read another. “I don’t have money left for food, my car, my bills.”
The projections come just days after the U.S. Department of Labor announced that more than a million Americans filed for unemployment benefits during the week ending August 8—just one of many signs that the economic recovery sputtering as the coronavirus continues to spread across the nation.
Earlier this month, Democratic congressional leaders and the Trump White House failed to reach an agreement to extend the enhanced unemployment benefits, allowing a key lifeline to lapse as hunger surged and tens of millions faced possible eviction. Democrats—along with economists, workers, and advocacy groups—demanded that the $600-per-week additional payments be extended while the White House and congressional Republicans pushed for a lower figure, with some saying publicly that they wouldn’t mind letting the benefits expire completely.
After Congress and White House negotiators failed to strike a deal, President Donald Trump took executive action to extend the federal unemployment boost at $300 per week while requesting that cash-strapped states kick in an extra $100 per week. Experts decried the directive—which leaves out the poorest by design—as unworkable and a false promise to the millions of Americans who relied on the enhanced benefits to afford food, housing, and other necessities.
“As more details of the plan—known as Lost Wages Assistance—have emerged, so have problems with finding the funding and getting it to the hands of those who need it,” the New York Times reported Sunday. “By Thursday, only one state, Arizona, had started paying out.”