Apparently Perdue and Loeffler told McConnell and voters inGeorgia are so furious about the lack on progress on a pandemic relief package that they fear they may both lose their seats-- meaning McConnell would go from majority leader to minority leader. It's only that that's getting him to move a few millimeters in the direction of superficial human decency. Pelosi has long given up on the Democrats' $3.4 trillion plan and will likely accept whatever is thrown her way, probably would have accepted it already if the progressives hadn't raised such a stink.
Ilhan Omar found 50 members of the House to sign on to a letter she sent the congressional leaders:
We write to convey the indisputable need to including relief checks in the stimulus package currently being negotiated, and to reinforce the call made by countless Americans for continued direct cash payments in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major shocks to the U.S. economy and public health system in our modern history. This pandemic has only worsened existing systemic inequities in our society, with low-wage earners, women, and Black and Latino communities disproportionately suffering from the human and economic toll of the virus. Almost half of all households in the United States reported experiencing serious financial concerns such as running out of savings and not having enough money for basic necessities. Direct cash assistance has become a lifeline for the American people.
We have learned from the CARES Act that the Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) saved many families from financial ruin and sheltered the economy as a whole. According to a Census Household Pulse Survey, most respondents used these checks to pay for everyday expenses including food, rents/mortgages, utilities, and other consumer debts. This boost in consumer spending in the second quarter helped to prop up the economy. These cash payments were one of the main reasons why the poverty rate fell in the early months of the pandemic, before beginning to rise again as critical fiscal aid has been depleted or set to expire.
Now that much of the fiscal assistance in the CARES Act has run out, consumer spending is trending downward while COVID-19 cases are spiking across the country. It is clear that we need to provide financial support to those who must stay home, and prevent our most vulnerable populations from being pushed into poverty and homelessness.
This type of cash assistance has already proved to be one of the most effective and most equitable ways to directly support the American people this year. Excluding universal and direct cash relief from the next stimulus will leave behind tens of millions of people who have lost income as well as many struggling individuals who cannot work and those left out of federal support programs. A robust relief package must pair cash assistance programming with increased unemployment insurance (UI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aid to states and localities, and childcare funding. However, direct payments are one of the quickest ways to bring relief to the most people and must be a priority in the next package to ensure that American families will have the unconditional aid they need to support themselves and their local economies during this perilous time in our nation’s history.
We hope that you will keep in mind this urgent need as you continue to craft a relief package to help struggling Americans as we reach the end of the year. Our constituents are in great need, and we have a duty to deliver the most effective, most direct assistance possible.
And that was signed not just by progressives like Rashida, Ro, AOC, Jamie Raskin, Barbara Lee, Judy Chu, Jan Schakowsky, Jim McGovern, Pramila, Raúl Grijalva and Bonnie Watson Coleman but also conservatives like Jim Cooper, Juan Vargas, and Lisa Blunt Rochester.
Last night the NY Times' Emily Cochrane reported that even as Congress moved, glacially and many months late toward makings deal, the package pointed to troubles on the horizon for Biden "who had pressed" Democrats to surrender to GOP demands. "To break the logjam, Democrats appeared to have dropped their demand for a dedicated funding stream for states and cities that are facing fiscal ruin, guaranteeing that Mr. Biden will have to act early in his tenure to try to bolster them and take additional action to prop up the economy." Oh? Does a magic wand come with the Resolute Desk now?
Biden, always the clueless austerian, and Team Austerity (D), demanded Democrats strike an inadequate, pitiful, death-dealing deal even while McConnell was getting "powerful reasons of his own to compromise. On Wednesday, he suggested on a private call with Republicans that delivering the stimulus package could bolster the party’s hopes of hanging onto its majority in the Senate, according to three people who relayed his comments on the condition of anonymity. The two Georgians whined they are "getting hammered" because of Congress’s failure to deliver more pandemic aid to struggling Americans-- particularly the direct payments-- and that enacting the measure could help them. McConnell will time it in such a way so that each check could have a life-size picture of Señor Trumpanzee embossed on it.
But because the you-can't-teach-an-ancient-nine-tenths-dead-dog any new tricks, the Democrats negotiated with themselves and instead of proposing something reasonable like $2 or 3,000 a month, they asked for $1,200 a month-- an impetus for the Republicans and conservatives from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party to do what they do-- cut it in half.
Even as enthusiasm built that the long-stalled stimulus talks were finally bearing fruit, it was clear that the potential agreement was far smaller than what economists say is needed.
The plan under discussion amounts to less than half of the $2.2 trillion stimulus law enacted in March, and it does not come close to matching what many economists had said would be necessary to jolt the economy out of a pandemic-induced slump. They have warned for months about permanent economic damage and deteriorating prospects for a swift recovery, offering a grim backdrop as lawmakers traded blame.
Jerome Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, reiterated his call for more fiscal stimulus on Wednesday, saying that the continuing rise in Covid-19 cases and the lapse in funding for several programs that were helping households and businesses stay afloat posed challenges for the economy.
“The case for fiscal policy right now is very, very strong, and I think that’s widely understood right now,” he said. “Now that we can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel, it would be bad to see people losing their business, their life’s work, even generations’ worth of work.”
Even as negotiations continued, there was evidence of economic harm the worsening pandemic was causing. Retail sales fell 1.1 percent in November, the Commerce Department reported, with restaurants and bars experiencing even bigger declines as states reimposed business restrictions.
Other measures of economic activity have likewise slowed in recent weeks, and applications for unemployment benefits have surged. For the millions of Americans already relying on jobless benefits, the situation could be even more dire if two programs that expand and extend the unemployment insurance system expire after next week without congressional action.
Republicans have continued to insist that a package should remain under $1 trillion in order to maintain support within their ranks, leaving lawmakers and staff to wrangle over funding levels for various provisions and programs in the new measure. Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Mr. Schumer spoke with Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, for about 45 minutes on Wednesday as they worked to hammer out final details.
...Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, who has been vocal about his belief that Democrats succumbed too easily to Republican demands, and Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, a leader of the bipartisan group, got into a heated exchange on a private Democratic caucus call over progressives’ push to increase the amount of the direct payments, according to three people familiar with the discussion.
“It will be a progressive holding their nose and voting for something because we don’t want to take away $600 from American families before Christmas and we don’t want to take unemployment benefits away from people,” said Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California.
Democrats don't seem to understand the difference between compromise and surrender.
Bernie was on CNN with Wolf Blitzer this morning talking about what's missing from the conservative pandemic package. This is worth listening to closely, even if McConnell and the Republicans and Blue Dogs like Gottheimer refuse to. Wolf: "Why is it taking so long to help these millions of Americans?"