Congress

“What in the hell are we doing?”

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Senate Republicans held their first meetings to discuss the details of their upcoming stimulus proposal yesterday and, according to multiple reports, they were chaotic at best.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell still hasn't released his proposal, and he can't even say when he will, because significant differences remain within the GOP itself before even considering differences with congressional Democrats.

Republicans are arguing about the inclusion of Trump's payroll tax holiday, among other things, and some are even pleading for more austerity according to the Washington Post.

The Republican and White House positions changed multiple times as the day went on, with some GOP lawmakers refusing to rally behind President Trump’s demand for a payroll tax cut while others worked to convince White House emissaries that more money was needed for testing and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Complicating matters, other Republican lawmakers appeared mortified about the growing size of the spending bill, leading to bickering over which policies to remove and warning that miscalculations could allow Democrats to seize control of the White House and the Senate in November.

“What in the hell are we doing?” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who according to multiple officials was incensed at the push to boost spending levels, asked his colleagues at the lunch with the administration negotiators, according to several people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the exchange.

Indeed, what are they doing?

What they're doing is what they should have done two whole months ago when House Democrats passed their latest stimulus bill. But Republicans didn't do that because they've been marching to Trump's tune.

Just like the Trump White House, Senate Republicans drank their own Koolaid and decided that the coronavirus pandemic was over. And if it's over, we won't need more stimulus, right? Actual economists and even Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told them to pass more stimulus, as you may recall, but the GOP sat on their hands for the entire summer and waited until it was too late.

The pandemic unemployment program is going to expire this coming weekend for most of the 32 million people currently supported by it. Congressional sources who spoke to the Washington Post say talks between Republicans and Democrats, and even among Republicans themselves, could slip into next month. Right now it's not even clear if the GOP will agree to renew the pandemic program, but even if they do it may not resume until the middle of August.

We won't see the next jobs report until at least tomorrow at the earliest, but census data released this morning showed that employment may be receding to where it was in May.

Elected idiots like Ted Cruz think they're spending too much money but, as usual, the truth is they're not considering anywhere near enough.

At the end of the day, what I think Republicans are truly afraid of is normalizing universal basic income. They don't want Americans to look around and realize that the world keeps spinning even if we give people basic spending money when they can't find or hold a job.

  • Draxiar

    What are they doing? Effectively dithering about the color of the curtains while the house burns.

  • Aynwrong

    “At the end of the day, what I think Republicans are truly afraid of is normalizing universal basic income.”

    I’ve had a similar opinion for some time now. What Rs are afraid is normalizing the idea of basic, competent governance as well as the idea of a robust, New Deal style of governance at that. After all their decades of relentless fear mongering that every new government social program is going to lead to the election of president Mao Zedong (which most R voters already think Obama was) they’re afraid non partisan citizens might start wondering why the socialist hellscape never arrives.

  • muselet

    Under different circumstances, it might be amusing to watch the Rs squabble like preschoolers who haven’t had their nap. It might also be amusing to witness headline writers struggling mightily to avoid having to put Republicans In Disarray! at the top of page A1.

    It’s not amusing under these circumstances.

    The GOP is no longer capable of governing (yes, at one time it could—not well, but it could), and sometimes looks like it can’t even pretend to govern. This is one of those times. And this—

    … warning that miscalculations could allow Democrats to seize control of the White House and the Senate …

    —would be absurd even in good times. I don’t expect political parties not to act politically, but now would seem to be an inappropriate time for those concerns.

    The Rs couldn’t organize an orgy in a bordello. With any luck, voters will remember that in November.

    –alopecia

    • Draxiar

      Doggone it Muselet…”Republicans In Disarray” was what I was going to submit as a comment.

      Bravo!