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The Battle Over Which Party Controls The Senate Could Hinge On $1,200 Checks McConnell Is Blocking




Do you think that appeal to Georgia voters will be effective? 2,474,507 Georgians (49.51%) voted for the lesser evil last month and 2,461,837 Georgians (49.25%) voted for the greater evil. They all voted for evil. There was no alternative. (I voted for whomever it was who ran on the Peace and Freedom line; never heard of the person and I don't recall if it was a boy or a girl-- just not Trump or Biden.) And not from either of the political parties coming together on this inadequate pandemic relief "compromise" bill now, the one concocted by conservatives Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Susan Collins (R-ME). If you're way of thinking about right-wingers like those three aren't as bad as Trump, DWT is probably a blog you should read carefully every day.

Did you hear Bernie on Ali Velshi's show this morning? He won't be voting for the fake $908 billion compromise bill "unless it is significantly improved." It's more likely that it will be significantly worsened. No Democrat should support it unless it gives-- at the very least-- another stimulus check directly to Americans. (Arch-conservative Republican Josh Hawley of Missouri is with Bernie on that one and says he's not voting for it either unless every American gets a $1,200 check.) Bernie is also not going for McConnell's sine qua non-- giving law-breaking corporations immunity from the law. And maybe Democrats should back Bernie up when he demands the bill also address the pandemic.


In his Washington Post column this morning, Greg Sargent wrote that "One of the most nauseating arguments from Republicans against aid to state governments getting slammed by the economic downturn has been that it constitutes a giveaway only to blue states . Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for instance, has sneered that Republicans will not support what he has called 'Blue State Bailouts.' But now numerous Republican senators seem to be increasingly gravitating toward a new $908 billion economic rescue package that is being negotiated by senators from both parties. And one reason for this might be that some red states, too, are now facing serious fiscal crunches as the economic outlook darkens amid the surge of coronavirus that is only getting worse by the day. Dare we refer to this as a call for Red State Bailouts?"

Sargent-- very much like normal congressional Democrats, probably even the Joe Manchin types-- recognizes this as "a deepening national disaster. The coronavirus is surging in dozens of states, both blue and red. Similarly, many states across the country, both red and blue, are facing serious revenue shortfalls that are related to the economic downturn." The new "compromise" being proposed includes $160 billion in aid to state and local governments to help them weather the next few months without cutting government workers or services. He writes that "there is some overlap between the Republicans who are moving toward this proposal and the states that are facing fiscal crunches. These crunches are occurring mainly because the pandemic-driven pullback in economic activity results in increasing joblessness and declining consumption, which means less in sales and income tax revenue.

So it isn't just New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois and California-- states that Trump and McConnell want to see driven into bankruptcy and forced to cut essential services, but also Republican-governed states like Florida, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Iowa, Alaska... and Georgia. Perdue and Loeffler are going to have to vote on this proposal. Their vote will determine the runoff (and thereby control of the U.S. Senate).


McConnell would like to slink out of town for the holidays without passing anything and blame it on the Democrats for not agreeing to his own penny-pinching proposal but so far Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Kevin Cramer (North Dakota), Bill Cassidy (Lousiana), Rubio (Florida), Tillis (North Carolina) and both jerks from Iowa, Grassley and Ernst, have all moved away from McConnell and say they're backing the "compromise" for the sake of their own hard-pressed states' stricken residents.

Michael Leachman, vice president of state fiscal policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told Sargent that "The pandemic is not partisan. The virus doesn’t care if a state is led by Republicans or Democrats. It hurts the economy of every state... States run by Republicans have some of the worst shortfalls. Legislatures in states are coming back into session soon, and they’re going to have to start laying more people off and cutting back on services that people need. If I were a governor or mayor in one of these states, I would be telling my member of Congress that it’s time to deliver fiscal aid."

Sargent speculates that "Another reason this might be happening now is that the election is over, and President Trump lost. As you may recall, his reelection message for months was that his stupendous leadership had crushed the pandemic and that we were roaring back to rebuilding the greatest economy in the known universe. That constrained many Republicans from even admitting there was a problem. But now they’re a bit freer to do so, which, along with the surging pandemic, may be leaving them with little alternative but to do something. If this compromise pans out, it will be far from enough, of course. But Trump’s ouster may also pave the way for something much bigger next year, and doing something now is far, far better than nothing."

This afternoon, Bernie explained his strong opposition to the fake compromise in an e-mail: "The Senate's indifference to the pain of the American people is disgraceful, and it cannot be allowed to continue. Now is the time to get our priorities right, and that starts with getting the American people the help they desperately need right now-- starting with at least $1,200 in direct payments for working class adults and $500 for their children. It also means opposing the Manchin-Romney provision which grants 100% legal immunity to corporations whose irresponsibility has led to the deaths of hundreds of workers, and which will provide an incentive to corporations to avoid implementing the common sense safety standards needed to protect employees and consumers, making a bad situation worse."


He noted that this is "the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, when over half of our workers are living paycheck to paycheck, when one out of four workers are either unemployed or make less than $20,000 a year, when 92 million Americans are uninsured or under-insured, when tens of millions of people face eviction and hunger in America is exploding [and] it is unacceptable that this proposal does not even do what the CARES Act did and provide-- at the very least-- a $1,200 direct payment to working class American and $500 for their kids."


Former Congressman Alan Grayson of Orlando scoffed at the compromise bill. "This "framework," he told me this afternoon, looks like it was written on a Post-It, in crayon. Why isn’t anyone even taking a stab at trying to figure out who actually has suffered and is suffering-- apart from the 300,000 casualties-- and then try to compensate them?

Another Floridian, Adam Christensen, who is still in his mid-20s and ran for the first time this cycle and reminds me a lot of Grayson, told me that "The biggest red flag that I see right now is there is the demands to give legal immunity to companies that force their employees to work and die without the proper equipment and precautions. This predatory behavior is what has destroyed the middle and working classes while transferring their wealth over to a few large companies. To endanger and kill your employees and then prevent their families from being able to hold those responsible to account is a slap in the face of the people we call 'essential workers.' At this point we need to call it like it is, those who work for a living are 'expendable workers' in the eyes of anyone who votes for this bill."


John Laesch, the Illinois populist who's running to be mayor of Aurora, Illinois' second largest city, took a different tact when looking at the bill: "The human suffering attached to the pandemic is becoming more and more dire and both political parties seem to only be interested in using our tax dollars to bail out the rich. It is our money and it needs to be funneled back into the pockets of working people and those who are on the brink of losing everything. This next stimulus bill should benefit main street first! Then Congress needs to have a serious discussion about fixing our Wall Street-run healthcare system by moving to Medicare for All."


Another Illinoisian, Marie Newman, who beat Blue Dog Dan Lipinski in a primary and then a Trump-oriented neo-fascist in the general and is now getting ready to be sworn into Congress, just wrote to me and said what I would hope every Democrat in Congress is saying: "Honestly, everyone needs to stop with the red state/blue state discourse and other time-draining baloney and get a bill signed that gets $1,200 checks, at a minimum, directly to individuals, now (along with support for unemployment extensions, states, healthcare and small businesses) Let’s move."



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