Now that the election’s over and they no longer need to pretend to be concerned about the budget and reduced spending, Republicans are ready to open the coronavirus spending spigot as they once again prove that there’s no difference between themselves and those evil, nasty Democrats.
This should come as no surprise. Ever since Nancy Pelosi released her $3 trillion, 1800-page coronavirus bailout/stimulus proposal known as the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act back in May, the question of additional coronavirus stimulus spending has never been a matter of “if” Republicans will cave, but “when.”
Like every spending bill Congress creates, the HEROES Act is loaded with a myriad of carve-outs that have little to do with solving a problem of their own making and everything to do with funneling money to their special interest buddies. A few examples contained in the original HEROES Act are:
- $900 billion for state bailouts
- $75 billion for mortgage bailouts with a ban on foreclosures (incentivizing borrowers to just stop paying their mortgage)
- $100 billion for renter bailouts with a ban on evictions (incentivizing renters to just stop paying their rent)
- $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service
- $100 billion bailout for schools — even schools that didn’t lose money
- Another round of $1200 checks for adults even if they didn’t lose income, plus $1200 per child
Following the passage of the HEROES Act in the House, Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell pretended to oppose it even as they advocated for more spending. For example, having already grown comfortable with record-breaking deficit spending due to “very low” interest rates, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin openly advocated for the HEROES Act or some version of it.
“I think there is a strong likelihood we will need another bill,” Mnuchin said in an interview with The Hill’s Bob Cusack. “We’re going to step back for a few weeks and think very clearly how we need to spend more money and if we need to do that.”
Over the weeks and months leading up to the election, Republicans looked for ways to give Democrats what they wanted while still clinging to the lie that they were the party to rein in spending. In July they presented a $1 trillion coronavirus bailout “alternative” to the HEROES Act, and in August they offered to extend the $600/week unemployment benefit indefinitely.
Yesterday, President-elect Joe Biden — yeah, I said it — urged Congress to pass the HEROES Act immediately:
“Right now, Congress should come together and pass a COVID relief package like the HEROES Act that the House passed six months ago.
“Once we shut down the virus and deliver economic relief to workers and businesses, then we can start to build back better than before.”
Biden also said he spoke to business and labor leaders earlier in the day and that there was agreement about the need for affordable health care for people who have lost their coverage or are in danger of losing it, sick leave and family leave, support for small businesses, and funding for state and local governments.
Biden’s list of “agreements” is interesting because Republicans have already bought-in on these priorities in previous coronavirus bailout legislation:
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act ($350 billion)
- Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ($2.2 trillion)
- A CARES Act fix of the SBA Paycheck Protection Program ($500 billion)
And now, with the election behind them, Republicans are about to open the coronavirus spending spigot.
McConnell is pushing for what he calls a “highly targeted” coronavirus spending bill despite his pre-election claim that no such legislation was necessary. “I don’t think the current situation demands a multitrillion-dollar package. So I think it should be highly targeted, very similar to what I put on the floor both in October and September,” McConnell told reporters.
In response to a question about McConnell’s plan, GOP leadership member Sen. Roy Blunt (MO) said, “Well, I think both sides are saying they want one. But both sides are saying they want the one they want. So we’ll see.”
Meanwhile, in an op-ed by Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) for Washington Examiner, we learn that a we must “renew the Paycheck Protection Program” in response to coronavirus hysteria.
Calling renewal an “important” priority — PPP was a part of the CARES Act and it expired in August — Rubio accused Democrats of playing politics with PPP and blamed them for failing to renew it.
There are only two plausible explanations for [the Democrats’] reckless obstruction.
First, they do not believe support for small business is necessary. Recent headlines make clear that anyone who buys this is delusional:
In that case, the only other explanation is that Democrats continue to play politics and use small business owners and employees as leverage for other negotiations. This is not only plausible but what some of my more sensible colleagues have told me.
Could it be that Rubio’s “sensible colleagues” were playing politics with the issue ahead of the election? Naw… Republicans would never play politics when it comes to spending, would they?
Rubio also addressed the GOP’s fake concern about the budget deficit and their spending addiction, saying in his best moral relativism voice that now is not the time for such trivialities:
And let me speak to my Republican colleagues who have expressed concern about America’s rising debts. You are correct. I ran for the Senate in 2010 because of the same concerns, and I am very aware of the impact diverting our future productive capacity toward debt payments will have on our ability to remain a strong and prosperous nation. But that is not relevant to this discussion today.
Yeah, since when has bankrupting the country been “relevant” to politicians looking for ways to buy a vote using the people’s money?
Rubio removed any doubt about the Republican Party’s motivations for joining the Democrats in another spending binge when he concluded:
Any politician who sees this crisis as an opportunity for political haggling — and not a matter of the utmost ethical and practical urgency — has forfeited his or her claim to moral authority. (emphasis mine)
Rubio’s hypocritical claim of “moral authority” concerning coronavirus spending reminds me of a funny video from a few years ago by Reason TV’s Remy where he perfectly satirized people like Rubio. When it comes to spending and other forms of nanny-state legislation, the only reason anyone would oppose Rubio’s “good intentions” is because they just want people to die.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.