Why even have a Republican Party when, with control of two of the three branches of the political process, Republicans can't provide any vision or contrast in the worst crisis of our lifetime?
Once again, Republicans are falling into a trap of getting into a bidding war with Democrats on how much money to spend to treat a self-imposed problem without addressing the cause of the problem.
Here's the simple truth: If Republicans push to end the shutdown, curtail the unconstitutional actions of governors, suspend taxation and regulations for several years, and get the economy moving, they won't need more bailout bills. If, on the other hand, they continue the shutdown and won't address the other issues related to the cause and solution for the China virus, sovereignty, regulations, and supply chains, no amount of Monopoly money they print can cover destroying most small businesses in America.
The $480 billion bill pumps another $310 billion into the newly created Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses shut down by the government to incentivize them to keep their employees on the payroll. But they don't address the actual shutdown or get governments to end their unconstitutional restrictions, a power Congress possesses through the 14th Amendment.
Furthermore, they fail to fix the unemployment insurance provision that works against the premise of the small business loan program. The entire purpose is to incentivize businesses not to fire workers. But in certain industries, the workers will now make more money on unemployment than on payroll, thanks to a provision from the last hastily passed bill. This is particularly true of workers in the restaurant industry, which has been the hardest-hit sector of the economy.
Next, the bill gives an additional $75 billion to hospitals. We certainly want to help hospitals at a time like this, but again, the root cause of their bankruptcy is not the virus, but the government-mandated shutdown. Most of the money goes to rural hospitals that were not overrun with COVID-19 patients but were shut down by arbitrary and unconstitutional orders to suspend vital procedures and medical care. Why not address the shutdown?
The bill also contains $25 billion for more testing. But as more information comes out about the virus, it appears that it has already been here for months and has spread to millions of people. We need more antibody tests. Moreover, Congress needs to spend time investigating why our government is going with only one model and ignoring so many countervailing studies from prestigious research that indicate lockdowns are either unhelpful or destructive?
This bill is full of provisions that try with one hand to put a bandage on an injury they are causing with the other hand. Why not have a debate on that other hand, rather than focusing just on the issues and premises Democrats want to discuss?
We have a severe and protracted suspension of the Bill of Rights by more than half the state governments, and Congress has an obligation to intervene under the 14th Amendment. Yet they are acting as if everything is fine. Moreover, those illegal declarations of martial law are the cause of most of the economic damage Congress is now trying to subsidize.
How can a Republican-controlled Senate completely ignore the 800-pound gorilla in the room causing the shutdown? Even if you believe we must spend more money now, at least get policy changes in return that will cure the problem so that we are not throwing more money into the same black hole every two weeks.
The only saving grace of the deal is that it does not include another bailout for the states and localities causing the shutdown, although the president seemed to indicate that would be part of phase five in the never-ending parade of spending bills.
What is so disgusting is that leaders in both parties give the Democrats what they want (minus one extra provision) and then demand it be voted on without any amendments or even time to read the bill and publicly digest it. That is how they typically treated post office naming bills over the years, but now that has become the modus operandi for every single important bill. This bill will get a voice vote today before anyone has understood it and will pass in the House by Thursday.
Why are there no votes on using the 14th Amendment and the power of the purse to restrict state officials from overbroad shutdowns? Why are there no votes on deregulation and cutting taxes to invest in business rather than investing in a shutdown and having nothing to show for it but crushing debt? None of the items from my original list of 15 ideas have been included in any of these bills.
It is shocking how almost nobody in Congress recognizes the severe threat of creating so much debt and devaluing our currency. Before embarking on this path, why not verify whether the shutdown is even necessary? But alas, we can always count on Congress to engage in malpractice: Treating a public policy illness directly created and continued by the same politicians, with the ax in one hand and the morphine in the other.