By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – It’s been 10 weeks since the U.S. House passed a relief package that included $1 trillion in help for states and cities reeling from the pandemic and economic crash. But the message from top D.C. Republicans to states and local communities remains clear: Don’t expect another aid package from us.

When WBZ-TV asked Gov. Charlie Baker about the implications of their position earlier this month, he was optimistic that help would be forthcoming.

“They get the fact that if states are literally laying off tens of thousands of people at precisely the point in time when the feds would like to see the economy continue its recovery, that’s gonna work against what they’re seeking to achieve,” he said.

But now, as time grows short before Congress takes its long summer break, GOP hardliners, who insist more help for what they claim are poorly-managed communities would be throwing good money after bad, are holding firm.

“I’m not interested in calling up Communist China and saying, can we borrow another trillion dollars and leave our kids and grandkids in hock for something that’s not going to fix the problem?” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

“I’m hoping its political posturing,” says Eileen McAnneny, president of the non-partisan Massachusetts Taxpayers Association.

She notes plenty of red states and cities are bleeding red ink along with their blue counterparts and suggests that if they really believe past funds have been mishandled, “the aid could be structured in a way to address some of their concerns. But it doesn’t negate the need for that aid.”

And if that need goes unmet, better brace yourself for a flood of layoffs.

“Cities and towns spend about 70% of their budgets hiring people, like teachers, and police officers and firefighters,” noted Geoff Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. “And if communities have to cut their budgets, those are the people who are gonna lose their jobs, and that’s bad news for the people who rely on their services.”

With the election looming, it’s hard to believe President Trump and most GOP senators would risk the political consequences of making cops, firefighters and other public workers jobless just when the country needs their services most. But there are a lot of things that have happened in Washington lately that are hard to believe.

Jon Keller

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