The Woodward and Berstein interview that Anderson Cooper did this week on CNN was pretty devastating for Trump. And Romney was on CNN with Wolf Blitzer yesterday blasting away at Trump as well, pinning the pandemic disaster largely on Trump. "The extraordinary loss of life is heartbreaking-- and in some respects unnecessary... Some states haven't had mask mandates, and from Washington we have not had a constant, consistent plan and plea for people to wear masks, to social-distance, to take all the measures that would reduce the spread of this disease... It's unfortunate that this became a political issue. It's not political. This is public health, and unfortunately we have not made that message clear enough to the American people, and people are dying because of it."
But this morning, conservative NY Times columnist David Brooks made it clear that it isn't just Trump on his own-- or even just Trump with knee jerk governors like Florida's Ron DeSantis, South Dakota's Kristi Noem and Iowa's Kim Reynold-- it was the Republican Party, Inc and this is the winter Mitch McConnell created. "If we can’t get a Covid-19 relief package through Congress in the next week or two," Brooks warned, "we’re sunk. It means we have a legislative branch so ideologically divided it can’t address even our most glaring problems. It means we have representatives so lacking in the willingness and ability to compromise that minimally competent government will be impossible, even under a President Joe Biden." How about correct the "even under," to "especially under?" That'll never happen; Biden is Brooks' kind of conservative.
But Brooks does see the problems McConnell and his tenuous but dogged Republican Senate majority refuses to address: "up to 12 million Americans could lose their jobless benefits by year’s end-- a wretched Christmastime for millions of families, which could spawn a wave of depression, morbidity, family breakdown and suicide. Millions of people could be evicted from their homes. Thousands more businesses may close during the long winter months before a vaccine is widely available. These are not failing, unproductive businesses. These are good, strong businesses that would have provided jobs and opportunity for millions of Americans for decades if they hadn’t been hit by the pandemic. Wendy Edelberg of the Hamilton Project calculates that if nothing passes, the U.S. economy will be $1 trillion smaller in 2021 and $500 billion smaller in 2022."
So why not another CARES Act, which kept the economy-- and millions of families-- afloat? He blames "gridlock," but admits that it wasn't really "both sides." The problem is both clearer and darker: "The core problem is that Republicans have applied a dogmatically ideological approach to a situation in which it is not germane and is in fact ruthlessly destructive. Some Republicans act as if this is a normal recession and the legislation in front of them is a conventional Keynesian stimulus bill. But this is not a normal recession. It’s a natural disaster. The proposals on offer are not conventional stimulus. They are measures to defend our national economic infrastructure from that disaster over the next five brutal months... [W]e need to protect the workers and businesses that generate wealth in this society."
What follows is the conservative beef with a partisan shill like Moscow Mitch. The analysis is faulty for anyone not residing in elite corporatist bubbles. But it's how those people see the problem and how they expect it to be solved:
Either we roar out of this pandemic with the economic might and surging wages we enjoyed in 2019, or we endure another decade of grinding stagnation, more populist anger, more people losing faith in America. Microscopic interest rates make this additional debt a relatively easy lift for us.
The 2020 election results have powerfully strengthened moderates. After months of gridlock the moderates took charge this week, crafting a bipartisan $908 billion relief compromise. Led by Senators Susan Collins, Joe Manchin, Mitt Romney and Mark Warner and endorsed by a bipartisan group of House members from the Problem Solvers Caucus, it is big enough to make a real difference and includes two thorny issues, aid to the states and liability protection, which should, on the merits, be in the law.
This is how democracy is supposed to work! Partisans stake out positions and then dealmakers reach a compromise. This is a glimpse of the sort of normal-functioning democratic process that has been largely missing since Newt Gingrich walked onstage lo these many decades ago.
To their great credit, Pelosi and Chuck Schumer embraced the bipartisan framework. Mitch McConnell went on the Senate floor Thursday, pretended to soften, ignored the compromise and did not move an inch.
McConnell may think the Democrats will eventually come to him because something is better than nothing. But his proposal cannot pass. Democrats in the House will not accept a complete capitulation to McConnell on every front.
For the first time in a long time we have a core group of moderates, progressives and conservatives willing to practice politics-- willing to work with the other party toward a reasonable solution.