“The Enemy of The People,” Senate Majority Leader “Moscow Mitch” McConnell, looks at the millions of Americans out of work and struggling financially, waiting in food lines and facing utility shutoffs and eviction from their home this winter, and does his best impression of the “Soup Nazi” from Seinfeld: “No stimulus for you!”
It’s not just “Moscow Mitch” McConnell who is “the enemy of the people,” but the entire Republican caucus. Senate Republicans Denounce White House’s Offer for Coronavirus Relief:
Republicans revolted on Saturday over President Trump’s efforts to resuscitate bipartisan stimulus talkswith a $1.8 trillion offer to Democrats, balking at what they called an exorbitantly costly plan in the latest sign of steep obstacles to any deal before the election.
Even as Democrats held out for more concessions over funding and provisions from a newly pliant president urgently seeking an agreement before he faces voters next month, it was the deep divisions among Republicans that were standing in the way.
Months of simmering tensions came to a head in a tense phone call Saturday morning between senators and top administration officials, in which nearly half of the Republican conference spent more than an hour lashing into Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, and Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, about the revived negotiations and warning that they could not support much of what was under discussion.
The backlash was so severe that Mr. Meadows at one point told senators that he would relay their concerns to Mr. Trump, but “you all will have to come to my funeral” after he delivered news of such negative reactions.
The stark divisions between most Senate Republicans and what the White House has signaled it was willing to endorse to secure Democratic support further undercut the potential for an agreement before Nov. 3, even as the country’s economic recovery continues to falter and tens of thousands of Americans, businesses and schools struggle to weather the pandemic without federal relief.
And what is the basis for this Republican indifference to the suffering of Americans? The GOP crazy base. That’s right America, the country is once again being held hostage by the GOP crazy base.
[T]here was widespread dissatisfaction with both the mounting cost of the administration’s offers and the perception that Mr. Mnuchin, in talks with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was acquiescing to the Democratic proposal of a $2.2 trillion package as a baseline instead of the two proposals put forward by Senate Republicans this year.
“There’s no appetite right now to spend the White House number or the House number,” Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee [who is retiring], said on the call. Republicans had first offered a $1 trillion proposal in late July, before trying to advance a scaled-down $350 billion proposal that garnered the support of the chamber’s fiscal hawks. (That legislation failed because Democrats blocked it as inadequate.)
Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, a Republican, warned that accepting a bill with Ms. Pelosi’s support would amount to a “death knell” for the party’s ambitions to retain its majority in the Senate and would “deflate” the Republican base, reflecting longstanding concerns among senators eager to protect their credentials as fiscal hawks and stave off primary challengers in the next election cycle.
Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, declared that accepting a Democratic push to expand elements of the Affordable Care Act would be “an enormous betrayal” of Republican voters. Republicans have also voiced concerns that the health care provisions Democrats have pressed for could result in the use of federal funds for abortions, a characterization Democrats dispute.
“I don’t get it,” Senator Rick Scott, Republican of Florida, said of the administration’s efforts to reach a sweeping bipartisan deal with House Democrats, echoing the sentiments of multiple senators.
Let me interpret this GOP-speak for you: Republicans have accepted that Joe Biden is going to be elected president, and they are preparing to return to Mitch McConnell’s policy of “total obstruction” that he waged against President Barack Obama. Republicans who don’t give a damn about the federal deficit when they are approving unfunded tax expenditures, i.e., tax cuts for plutocrats and corporations, that do not pay for themselves and explode the federal deficit, are hypocritically going to claim to be deficit hawks now to deny necessary stimulus funding for an economic recovery, and the financial assistance that you need to survive, just as they did after the the 2008 Great Recession. Republicans will also oppose reversing those unfunded tax expenditures, i.e., tax cuts for plutocrats and corporations, that they approved, just as they did the Bush tax cuts after the the 2008 Great Recession.
For his part, our drug-addled President who is flailing badly to find anything with which to stave off his defeat is simply incoherent.
Steve Benen explains, White House’s line on economic aid descends deeper into incoherence:
It was six days ago when Donald Trump, after weeks of confusing and contradictory messages, announced that he was pulling the plugon bipartisan talks on an economic aid package. White House officials said the process was over and negotiations would not begin anew before the elections.
And it was three days ago when Trump told Rush Limbaugh that his newest position was the opposite of the one he’d held earlier in the week.
“I would like to see a bigger stimulus package than, frankly, either the Democrats or the Republicans are offering,” Trump said on an appearance of the Rush Limbaugh Show on Friday, acknowledging it was “the exact opposite” of his initial demands.
I realize that the president doesn’t generally keep up on current events, but when he mentioned the package “Republicans are offering,” he was referring to the proposal floated by his own White House. It’s his own team that’s responsible for making the “offer,” which in turn created an awkward dynamic: Trump effectively told Limbaugh that he’s against Team Trump’s plan.
While the president was delivering that message, his team was extending a new pitch to congressional Democrats: a $1.8 trillion aid package, well below the $2.4 trillion package House Democrats recently approved, and roughly half the $3.4 trillion proposal Democrats pushed several months ago.
Trump told Fox News yesterday that GOP lawmakers are fully on board with the $1.8 trillion offer. That wasn’t even close to being true: Senate Republicans actually wasted little time letting the White House know they’re staunchly opposed to the latest proposal, as are House Democrats. In fact, if Trump’s comments to Limbaugh were sincere, even he’s against his own White House plan.
If this is all starting to sound like an incoherent mess, it’s not your imagination. The Tax Policy Center’s Renu Zaretsky explained this morning, “In just the past week, Trump has said he wants a big bill, then no bill, then a small bill, then a $1.8 trillion bill, and now, perhaps, an even bigger bill than that. Or not.”
Meanwhile, Larry Kudlow, the top economics voice in the White House, told CNN yesterday that Trump is prepared to accept a deal worth more than $2.2 trillion — effectively killing the $1.8 trillion offer the White House extended on Friday — even as GOP senators tell anyone who’ll listen they want the administration to move in the opposite direction.
Many Americans are wondering if a much-needed economic lifeline is on the way. Alas, I think they should keep their expectations low.
Postscript: Senate Republicans also reportedly complained to the White House on Saturday that Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell “had gone too far in demanding Congress approve sweeping economic relief and that he went out of his lane in making his demands publicly known.”
It’s an odd thing to complain about: Republican senators don’t want to give the economy a boost, and they don’t want Trump’s hand-picked Fed chair to bother them with accurate information on giving the economy a boost?
This country cannot afford to go through another period of partisan warfare “total obstruction” waged by “The Enemy of The People,” Senate Majority Leader “Moscow Mitch” McConnell, as he did against President Barack Obama during what was then the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression – surpassed only now by the Coronavirus Great Recession, both gifted to us from two of the most incompetent Republican presidents in modern American history.
Americans must reject the Republican Party en masse this election to free us from this cycle and choose a way forward that allows this country to build an economy that works for every American, not just the plutocrats and corporate masters of the Republican Party.