Ho, Ho, Ho, You’re Not Getting $2,000
It's the holidays, it's been a really miserable year, an overwhelming number of Americans are missing their families, those hardest hit by the pandemic and economic collapse are still waiting for relief from the government of one of the richest nations Last night, in front of a festive, ornamented Christmas mantle, the President offered the world a huge gift wrapped box of False Hope.
"The $ 900 billion package offers hardworking taxpayers only $ 600 each in aid, and not enough money is given to small businesses," President Trump said. "I'm asking Congress to change this bill and increase the ridiculously low $ 600 to $ 2,000 - $ 4,000 for a couple."
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He's right: $ 600 is a pathetic sum to pound at people who have lost their jobs, businesses, and loved ones as the virus has ravaged communities in every state for nine months. For months, Democrats have been calling for another round of $ 1,200 economic reviews - the House even passed a bill it would have mailed in July, but Mitch McConnell and the Republican-controlled Senate refused to include the legislation.
It's wonderful that the president finally kept his attention from botching a coup long enough to realize that Americans need relief - welcome! - but his demand does not mean much at the moment, as it comes not only after months of negotiations, but after the bill has already been passed by both chambers of Congress. (To be fair to Trump, he apparently had previous concerns about the size of the $ 600 check, but was reportedly discouraged from raising those concerns by his own "frantic aides" when he was actually swaying the relief might have had negotiations.)
So what happens now Congressmen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib have drafted an amendment that would change the figure on the bill from $ 600 to $ 2,000. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Chairman Chuck Schumer both expressed support. Pelosi promised to speak on the amendment this week. Some Republicans even jumped on board - Lindsey Graham tweeted late last night. “The American people are hurt and deserve relief. I know that this idea is supported by both parties. Let's go on. "
That all sounds great, doesn't it? Like a Christmas miracle, Democrats and Republicans on both sides of the political spectrum put aside their differences and come together to make solid contributions to their fellow Americans. Here's the catch: Spokesman Pelosi has promised to speak the bill unanimously, which means any of the 435 members of the House can object and the amendment would be dead in the water. And some Republicans will no doubt object and take very seriously his concerns about national debt. (For a preview of what's to come, see Republican Senator Ron Johnson's speech a few days ago blocking his colleague Josh Hawley's request for $ 1,200 worth of stimulus checks.)
Doing a Republican bloc aid to the citizens is great policy for Democrats: a large, colorful display of Republicans' indifference to the struggles of the average American just weeks before a big election that will determine control of the Senate. Democrats couldn't ask for a more vibrant and flattering contrast at such a critical moment.
However, unanimous consent is not a serious attempt to provide help to those who need it. That would mean calling Members back to Washington for a full vote which, if the Democrats control the House, would actually pass. Sure, the legislation would almost certainly still die in the Senate, but at least the House Democrats would have done everything they could.
What happens instead is political theater, and a particularly gruesome version of it - like a giant Christmas prank played on every poor, carefree soul who feels a little bit of hope that their elected leaders actually mean what they say and really are trying really to help them. The news that it was all a big joke came from Trump himself, who ended his video with a blinking threat to stay at the White House if his demands are not met. "Send me a suitable bill, otherwise the next government will have to deliver an aid package - and maybe I am," he said.
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