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People Are Rightly Pissed off at This “Three Martini Lunch” Tax Break Republicans Shoved Into the New Stimulus Bill

Mitch McConnell smirks as he enters for a press conference.

Congress is on the verge of passing another long-overdue stimulus bill. The package is part of a much larger government funding bill so there’s a lot to work through before the midnight deadline hits tonight but the current draft does include those one-time direct payments of a whopping $600 for most adult Americans making under $100k a year.

Making that insultingly low amount even worse is the news that Republicans in Congress fought to include a tax break in the bill for corporate meals—often referred to as the “three-martini lunch,” evoking the image of the stereotypical boozy, fat-cat, high-powered boys’ club long lunch. The kind of lunch that can easily cost as much as that $600 direct payment the rest of us are supposed to settle for.

Donald Trump has reportedly been pushing for this tax break for months as a way to revitalize the restaurant industry. He thinks bringing back big corporate lunches will make restaurants “hotter than before.”

“But critics said it would do little to help struggling restaurants and would largely benefit business executives who do not urgently need help at this time,” writes the Washington Post. “Some Democrats recoiled at the proposal, though it has also been denounced as ineffective by conservative tax experts as well.”

So why did Democrats agree to include the tax cut? According to the Post, they traded it for tax credits for low-income families.

“Republicans are nickel-and-diming benefits for jobless workers, while at the same time pushing for tax breaks for three-martini power lunches. It’s unconscionable,” Senator Ron Wyden told the paper.

People are understandably furious. #LetThemEatCake has been trending on Twitter Monday morning in reference to all the congressional Marie Antoinettes who seem to think it’s practical to ask people to subsist on $600 during a pandemic.

(image: Sarah Silbiger-Pool/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.