On Thursday morning, President Trump took to Twitter to spread absurd disinformation about the current state of the latest round of COVID-19 relief talks, which have abruptly stalled in the face of callous Republican obstruction.
Since returning from recess, Senate Republicans tried to pass a bare-bones $300 billion relief bill that would have provided $300 in enhanced weekly enhanced unemployment benefits, small business relief, and expanded coronavirus testing. But Democrats rejected the bill over the Republican refusal to include to provide any money for states and cities, who are desperately trying to avoid mass layoffs as the pandemic depletes their tax revenue.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Donald Trump have been working overtime to try and falsely paint this issue as one only affecting cities and states run by Democrats, calling it a “blue bailout” and blaming Democrats for poor governance and management.
McConnell has made it clear he would rather let the states go bankrupt than lift a finger to help keep our nation’s economy from sliding into a depression, suddenly deeply concerned about fiscal responsibility now that his wealthy patrons have gotten trillions of taxpayer dollars for their bailouts.
Trump echoed those sentiments this morning in a projecting tweet that makes it very clear what’s really going on — perhaps a bit too clear.
Democrats only want BAILOUT MONEY for Blue States that are doing badly. They don’t care about the people, never did!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 17, 2020
The truth of the matter is that Trump and McConnell are opposing the bailout money because they don’t care about people and never did.
Democrats are demanding bailout money for every state, because they care about people. The coronavirus crisis that Donald Trump and his Republican allies have enabled has taken a sledgehammer to the budgets of blue and red state alike, and by refusing to pass relief for the states, Trump and McConnell are going to cause the layoffs of thousands and thousands of their own voters, just as they’ve caused their unemployment benefits to dry up and their family members to fall sick and die.
16 of the 20 most federally dependent states are red states. 14 of the least federally dependent states are blue states. The entire country needs bailout money right now — especially red states. https://t.co/Yekx3BKYx6
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) September 17, 2020
On the other hand, let’s take a look at what the Democratic proposal for coronavirus relief includes.
The HEROES Act, which has been sitting on McConnell’s desk since May, contains the following provisions:
- nearly $1 trillion for state, local, and tribal governments
- up to $6,000 in direct stimulus payments for every family
- $200 billion in hazard pay for essential workers on the front lines of the crisis
- $175 billion in housing support to keep people from losing their homes
- student loan forgiveness
- a new tax credit to encourage businesses to not lay people off
- extension of unemployment benefits
- $25 billion for the USPS
- require ALL voters be able to vote by mail in November
Proposing the spending of tax dollars back on the public is literally the most basic display of “caring” that politicians can do. This legislation would be downright transformative in the lives of some people, keeping roofs above their heads and food on the table for their children — but since it doesn’t benefit the megawealthy, Trump and McConnell have no interest in any of it.
The politicization of state and city government bailouts is a new low in nihilistic cruelty by a political party that has gleefully discarded all semblance of rationality and empathy in favor of greed and bigotry. The coronavirus crisis is projected to blow a half-trillion-dollar hole in the budgets of America’s 50 states. If the states are not bailed out, the shortfall is likely to trigger crushing austerity, massive job losses, and an abrupt end to critical public services that could push our economy into years of recession or even a great depression to rival the 1929 crash.
To put it bluntly; the Republicans are willing to tank the nation’s entire economy just to avoid having to spend a dollar that might help a Democrat.
The president’s impulse to accuse his enemies of what he himself knows he is guilty of is infamous at this point (“Democrats are trying to steal the election! Joe Biden is a pedophile! etc”), and it’s safe to say he’s never hit the mark quite this hard before. Rather than react in frustration from the audacity of his lies, we must use this moment to remind all voters of what the Democrats are trying to do for them and make it clear that Trump himself is the obstacle to material improvements in their lives.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.