Democrats stonewalled all year on a new pandemic relief package. Now they’re proposing a new plan that undercuts even Republican proposals, and screws everyone but – get this – defense contractors…
A senior Democratic congressional aide is irate tonight.
“The Democrats,” the aide seethed, “have just done the worst negotiating in modern history.”
At issue: a pair of new Covid-19 relief bills, just submitted by a bipartisan group of Senators. Republican Senator Susan Collins gushed that a“Christmas Miracle” allowed the two parties came together on the twin bills, which the press describes as totaling $748 billion and $160 billion, respectively. “Bipartisanship and compromise is [sic] alive and well in Washington,” clucked West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin.
It sure is. With the election over, the Democratic leadership in the space of a few weeks somehow negotiated against themselves, working with Republicans to push the total amount of a Covid-19 relief deal further and further downward, to the point where previous plans offered by the likes of Mitch McConnell and Steve Mnuchin now look like LBJ’s Great Society.
Democrats ultimately settled for less than a third of what they had set as a baseline for state and local aid, accepted a package without any $1,200 direct payments, and signed off on a plan that, after offsets, includes less than $350 billion in new money, well below a slew of pre-election proposals rejected by Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer as being too low.
“They totally caved,” the aide says.
Back in May, the Democrat-led House passed the HEROES Act, a $3.4 trillion relief package that was pitched as the bill Democrats really wanted. It contained $413 billion new dollars for $1,200 direct payments to citizens, as well as $437 billion in additional unemployment benefits, and a whopping $1.13 trillion for state and local governments.
Remember all of that state and local funding that Democrats insisted was so crucial to the aid package?
Today, the state and local aid package signed off on by Manchin and Warner is down to $160 billion, appropriated as part of a separate bill that may or may not pass at all, with the main $748 billion plan. In other words, Democrats just agreed to take seven times less than the $1.13 trillion they asked for in the HEROES Act, and about half of Mnuchin’s $300 billion offer in October that Pelosi rejected as “sadly inadequate.”
In other words, the aide says, “The $748 billion deal is really just $188 billion in new money.” Given all the high-flown rhetoric the Party devoted before Election Day to rejecting aid packages they deemed heartlessly small, the hypocrisy, he says, is “amazing.”