The editors of the Wall Street Journal are not happy about the stimulus package presently stalled in the Senate:
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week asked his GOP committee chairs to work with their Democratic counterparts on planks of the complicated legislation. Republicans sought about $850 billion in liquidity for businesses to prevent credit defaults and mass layoffs, and roughly the same amount on Democratic priorities—including enhanced unemployment benefits, direct payments to households, and a surge in medical spending. By Saturday night, Mr. Schumer was expressing “delight and surprise” at the “bipartisan cooperation.”
Enter the Democratic left, which trashed the bill as a handout to the wealthy. “Mitch McConnell & the GOP are pushing a crony capitalist slush fund for friends and donors,” tweeted Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who everyone thinks will challenge Mr. Schumer in a 2022 primary. Mrs. Pelosi returned from recess to say the House will write its own bill, and Mr. Schumer then blocked the Senate from even debating the bill that his fellow Democrats co-wrote. Stand up guy, that Chuck.
The “crony capitalist slush fund” line is false and dangerous. Government created this financial panic. Government told Americans to stay home and essentially ordered U.S. commerce to stop. Without revenue, companies can’t pay the bills. Without access to government loans, companies of every size will be forced to lay off employees by the millions.
Who do progressives think that hurts? The “working families” Democrats claim to care about will get the pink slips. Let’s see how inequality spikes if a prolonged recession cuts national output by 10% or more this quarter, or worse if this continues for a few more weeks.
I am unprepared to take sides on the merits of the Senate bill. With the extreme partisan quality of today’s politics this food fight in the Senate was to be expected.
I think that Sec. Mnuchin’s proposal for a payroll tax is a good one. It should be extended to both the employee and employer sides (if you’re not aware of it both employers and workers pay about 7% payroll taxes). There is no faster way to get money into the hands of both companies and workers.
That won’t do anything to help those who are unemployed, however, and there are millions more of them than there were a couple of weeks ago. Fast action is needed and I don’t much care which political party is at fault for the delay.
Recovering from this crisis will take years, maybe decades, and it will require dedicated attention from lawmakers for a long, long time. There is no master stroke. If they don’t want to focus, they should get out of politics.