BOSTON (CBS) – Endless lines of cars waiting for hours at food banks. Fifty-eight percent of small business owners on the verge of permanent closure. A looming avalanche of evictions. And still, no sign of a desperately-needed new federal stimulus package.
“What I’m going to do here in the Senate is concentrate on the business that we have left to do,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell the other day. “Maybe another coronavirus package.”
“Maybe?” That’s right.
Despite the long, growing list of pandemic economic casualties, Washington appears no closer to a deal on a new round of aid than they were before election day.
Democrats are insisting on help for states and cities that are bleeding red ink.
“We cannot leave out key territories, state and local government,” said Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Fifth District) today. “We have to make sure it will deliver the aid where we need it”
But Republicans are prioritizing protection for businesses from COVID-related lawsuits, and their contempt for any blanket aid to cities and states is unvarnished.
“I am not going to vote for a bill that includes a lot of Pelosi spending or policy porn, I’m not gonna do it,” says Sen. John Kennedy (R-Louisiana). “And I don’t think most Republicans will.”
And if they don’t find a compromise?
At year’s end, several streams of unemployment aid will expire, along with the national eviction moratorium, forbearance from student loan payments, and small business debt relief, among other items.
But DC sources tell WBZ-TV the deadlock won’t break until President Trump indicates what, if any stimulus deal, he would sign.
“The idea that the president is still playing golf and not doing anything about it – it’s beyond my comprehension,” says President-elect Joe Biden. “You’d at least think he’d want to go off on a positive note. But what is he doing?”
Before election day, the president first broke off stimulus negotiations with Speaker Pelosi, then urged Congress to “go big” on an aid package. Since the election, crickets.
So what’s to come?
Perhaps once the president has exhausted his efforts to overturn the election result, his thoughts will turn to legacy, and he’ll sign off on a deal of some kind. Perhaps not.
In the meantime, Pelosi’s House majority shrinks when the new Congress is sworn in early in January, a potential problem in holding her stimulus line. And the crucial special Senate elections in Georgia on January 5th are already being nationalized by both parties, which could lead to a hardening of partisan positions.
Meanwhile, until the public call for more aid starts coming from conservative Republican governors instead of just relative moderates like Charlie Baker and Chris Sununu, McConnell is unlikely to budge.
You know the longstanding motto of our nation, e pluribus unum (out of many, one)?
Time for a new one: politica in populo.
Politics over people.