• Nathan Max

Ignore GOP on COVID Relief

Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/Associated Press.

It’s time to play hardball with Republicans.

Americans overwhelmingly support President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. Recent polls have shown more than three-quarters of Americans are in favor of it, including a plurality of Republicans. So, why are Republican lawmakers so obstinately opposed to it?

It’s their tried-and-true game plan.

Republicans want to stymie anything Democrats do and deprive them of any legislative accomplishments, especially ones that help their constituents. It doesn’t matter if it’s good for the country, and it doesn’t matter if the entire nation supports it. At the end of the day, Republicans want Americans to suffer for the next two years so they can turn around and blame Democrats, then win big at the polls when the midterms roll around.

We have all seen this play out once before. Just 12 years ago, after the historically bad George W. Bush administration wrecked the nation’s economy, Barack Obama came in and put it all back together. But, Obama went to great lengths to do it in a bipartisan way. The result was a relief package that wasn’t nearly as comprehensive as it could have been.

As a result, it took time for the recovery to ramp up. Republicans successfully blamed Obama for the slow progress, picked up 63 seats in the 2010 midterms, took control of the House of Representatives and scuttled the Democrats’ agenda for the next six years. Today’s Democrats must learn the lessons from the past and not repeat them.

Democrats had a 60-seat supermajority in the Senate when Obama was inaugurated. Today, they have what amounts to a 51-50 advantage. Unless the filibuster is abolished, and that doesn’t look likely, the only way Democrats are going to pass anything is through budget reconciliation. That hurdle has already been cleared in this case, so Democrats need to use it like a sledgehammer.

Republicans shamelessly used the same process to ram through their tax-cut giveaway for corporations, billionaires and multi-millionaires a few years ago. They didn’t ask for input from Democrats. Now that it’s time to help ordinary Americans, or the lion’s share of the population, Republicans’ self-serving objections should be ignored.

Americans need assistance, so Democrats need to give it to them. Don’t hold back.

The nation is in this position because of Republicans’ inept and scattershot economic policy in the middle of a global pandemic. The nation is in this position because of the incompetence and inhumanity of a Republican presidential administration that didn’t care one iota whether Americans lived or died. The nation is in this position because Republicans repeatedly showed, and continue to show, a callous indifference to the health, safety and well-being of everyday Americans.

Democrats are here to help Americans. Republicans are here to help themselves.

Bipartisanship is a nice idea. It would be great if we could turn back the clock and return to a quaint era in which this country had a government with two functioning political parties. But, in order to create compromise, there has to be two sides willing to negotiate.

There isn’t. There is one side that wants to play by an arcane and arbitrary set of rules, and another that wants to game the same antiquated system to its advantage.

America is with the Democrats. We want relief. We need relief. Millions are suffering and require financial assistance. There is nothing Democrats can put into the relief bill that would make Republicans support it, because Republicans’ agenda is to block any Democratic legislative achievement, no matter what.

Since the Democrats’ majority is so slim, this will probably be their only shot to pass a meaningful bill that can really help the American people. Now is not the time to give in.

Not an inch.