Doing Right, Thinking Wrong
Terry H. Schwadron
Dec. 18, 2020
As the Congress dithers its way towards its compromise to provide holiday coronavirus relief, possibly the most damning thing to emerge has been the reasoning for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — and with him, his caucus majority — to finally move towards providing help for millions left jobless and facing evictions and hunger.
What reportedly drove a change of heart for Republicans is not the once-again rising numbers of layoffs, not the monstrous implications of finding ourselves in the flood of contagious disease, not the mountain of small businesses giving up or the state health officers who say they lack the money to deliver the emergent vaccines.
It was that McConnell told his Republican caucus that the two Republican Senate incumbents in Georgia facing tough sledding in a special runoff election on Jan. 5 “are getting hammered” on the failures of Congress to provide relief.
In other words, McConnell finally recognized what should have been evident for months now — that it is even in his own self-interest, and those of his political party mates to figure out a way to make a stimulus package work.
The details are still in the works at this writing, and may not be settled by the Friday night deadline for the overall bills required to keep government running; once again, the ever-bureaucratic legislative process may require a short days-long reset of the deadline clock.
But prospects seem good suddenly for both houses of Congress and the White House to coalesce on a package that at least will do some of the basics that are needed — that have been needed since last May when the House passed a Democratic version of the bill that McConnell simply refused to acknowledge.
At Risk: Reality and Trust
There are two ideas more basic to America beyond even the obvious need for immediate financial intervention.
First, of course, is the self-imposed blindness and deafness that seems to permeate the current Congress towards the realities that this country faces.
The actions that the months-long stalemate over economic stimulus and bridge help to working Americans reflect is a guarantee that these Republican senators, at least (there’s plenty of criticism for the Democratic opponents as well, trust me), is a guarantee that they give ideology or partisan credit or lobbyist money or winning at any cost over anything else — including the deaths of hundreds of thousands in this country and economic and social misery for millions.
The other, naturally, is the continuing death of Trust in government and its institutions.
How are we supposed to be comfortable giving the reins over policy-making to a bunch of bozos who can’t recognize when the pouring contagious deluge requires more than a nice word or two about umbrellas?
McConnell’s internal moral clock runs only in response to keeping power, and, in this case, that means winning those two George U.S. Senate seats.
It remains a mystery how half the country could continue to send Republicans to the Senate for the express purpose of not recognizing public problems even when the problems rise up to smack them in their mask-less faces. This is not to excuse Democrats who say one thing and too often do another, but on this issue, at least, they are lined up on the side of wanting to help people — as it happens, along with the Federal Reserve, the medical community, governors and mayors outside of Florida and Texas and those who see working for a living as a necessity.
A Flawed Compromise
The final package, when we actually see it, will be less than we need, and more than we had been expecting from this crowd. With vaccine deliveries now under way, it may be that we will start to rebuild our economy and return people to work in sufficient numbers to allow the start of a recovery that affects more than the nation’s wealthiest.
That a group of Democrats and Republicans in both houses had to meet quasi-secretly to start bashing out a compromise and to work so hard to persuade McConnell and the White House to think about helping Americans in distress is a pretty sad commentary all on its own.
It just may reflect the realities of what happens over the next couple of years as a split Senate has to go through this kind of internal machination on every public issue facing us.
But it is strikingly worse that it is only the prospect of a specific twin loss in Georgia by two extremely flawed Republican candidates that prompted the consideration of life-affirming support by this government. Both Senators David Purdue and Kelly Loeffler are under scrutiny for using their office for personal gains in the stock market, using information coming their way for personal trades; both cynically are backing the fantasy of Donald Trump yet overturning the November election results before the Jan. 20 inauguration. Loeffler talks of religion and culture while demeaning speech of her Democratic opponent, the Rev. Raphael Warner; Purdue barely utters anything about opponent Jon Ossoff without branding him a radical socialist at a time when we are talking about rising hunger across the country.
Yes, these two should be hammered, and so should McConnell and Trump. But instead, Mitch, how about hammering the effects of coronavirus?