Look at These Cheap Bastards With Their Miserable Plan to Take Your Relief Money
Category: Op/EdVia: john-russell • 4 weeks ago • 51 comments
By: Charles P. Pierce (Esquire)
No Republican Covid relief proposal can be trusted as long as Mitch McConnell is a living, breathing congressional leader.
By Charles P. Pierce Feb 1, 2021 SAUL LOEBGetty Images
So it seems that 10 Republicans are visiting the White House today so that the president can tell them that they're all miserable skinflints who want their fellow citizens to die gasping and broke. That's how it seems to me, anyway. From the AP:
The Republican group's proposal focuses on the pandemic's health effects rather than its economic toll, tapping into bipartisan urgency to shore up the nation's vaccine distribution and vastly expanding virus testing with $160 billion in aid. Their slimmed down $1,000 direct payments would go to fewer households than the $1,400 Biden has proposed, and they would avoid costly assistance to states and cities that Democrats argue are just as important.
There's also no provision for raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, so, it's nice of y'all to come by, and make sure to stop by the gift shop on your way out, but, no, this is a non-starter. And this is arrant nonsense.
"We recognize your calls for unity and want to work in good faith with your Administration to meet the health, economic, and societal challenges of the COVID crisis," the 10 GOP senators wrote to Biden. "We share many of your priorities."
The overture from the coalition of 10 GOP senators, mostly centrists, is an attempt to show that at least some in the Republican ranks want to work with Biden's new administration, rather than simply operating as the opposition in the minority in Congress. But Democrats are wary of using too much time courting GOP support that may not materialize or deliver too meager a package as they believe happened during the 2009 recovery.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 290 times, shame on me. No Republican proposal on anything can be trusted as long as Mitch McConnell is a living, breathing congressional leader. Democrats—and this president, especially—have been down this road so often that they should buy a home on the cut de sac that is its inevitable end. The Republicans can intone the conjuring word, "bipartisan," as often as they want. There are no buyers across the table for their magic beans anymore. If the president wants to have the gang over so he can turn them down personally, I have no problem with that.
The problem with the Republican proposal is not that their congressional leadership can't be trusted. (Pro tip: It can't.) It's that their proposal doesn't remotely meet the needs of the country which is in the middle of the worst public-health crisis in a century, and the worst economic slump in at least half that time. These two crises are feeding off each other with unprecedented destructive energy and the Republicans came to the White House on Monday bearing a mop and a bucket. White House press secretary Jen Psaki came right to the point in her briefing that preceded the meeting.
I appreciate the opportunity to give more comment on their proposal. I think if they put their ideas forward, that's how the president sees it, he felt it was an effort to engage on a bipartisan basis. And that's why he invited them to the White House today. But his view is that the size of the package needs to be commensurate with the crises we are facing—the dual crises we are facing—hence why he proposed a package that is $1.9 trillion...
He outlined the specifics of what he would like to see in the package in his primetime speech just a few weeks ago. There are some realities as we look to what the American people are going through. One in seven American families don't have enough food to eat. We will not have enough funding to reopen schools. We don't have funding to ensure that we can get the vaccine in the arms of Americans. There are real impacts that he will reiterate, as he he has publicly and privately in many conversation. They have put forth some ideas and he is happy to hear from them. He also feels strongly about the need to make sure the size of the package meets this moment and feels the American people expect that of their elected officials as well.
It appears as though there is a new sheriff in town. In Congress, the slim Democratic majorities on both houses are preparing to pass Biden's package through reconciliation, if that's what it takes, bipartisanship be damned. (Expect an ensemble of scalded cats bellowing about things being rammed down throats etc.) But it seems that the White House is planning to take advantage of the fact that its proposal is actually popular out in the country beyond the green rooms of the Capitol studios. In addition, over the weekend, the administration sent an unmistakable shot across the bow of two Democratic "moderates" who have been inclined to make mischief in the past.
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Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kirsten Sinema of Arizona looked up and saw vice-president Kamala Harris all over the local media in their respective states, pushing hard for the administration's relief plan. At the very least, Manchin got the message. From WSAZ:
"I saw [the interview], I couldn't believe it. No one called me [about it]," Manchin said. "We're going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward, but we need to work together. That's not a way of working together."
The vice-president doesn't need Joe Manchin's permission to talk to anyone anywhere. I realize that it's been a long time since a Democratic president played this kind of hardball, but a little touch of LBJ is what's needed right now. In a proper, bipartisan manner, everybody should get used to that.
Charles P Pierce is the author of four books, most recently Idiot America, and has been a working journalist since 1976.