An agreement has been reached in the Senate on a second economic stimulus bill that includes sending checks to most American households, expanding unemployment benefits, and providing over $350 billion for small businesses to keep making payroll.
During these negotiations, Democrats in the House unveiled their own 1,400-page coronavirus stimulus bill meant to be a third stimulus plan. Sadly, it is chock full of radical lefist policies that are not meant to help all Americans hurt by the novel coronavirus, but to remake the U.S. economy and reshape our society.
The bill included some proposals that would be considered germaine to the issue at hand of fighting the coronavirus and helping workers and businesses affected by forced closures: financial aid to individuals, loans to small businesses, and aid for hospitals and health care workers in need of equipment and supplies.
Even though the amounts of aid are debatable, those in Congress on both sides of the aisle could get on board with targeted help.
That’s where bipartisanship ended and the far-left grabbag of ideas began.
My colleague Julie Gunlock provided a great rundown yesterday of these proposals and how they would hurt businesses trying to recover including:
- $15 minimum wage
- Permanent federal paid leave for all workers
- Gender and race diversity mandates on businesses
- Requiring airline emission reductions
These proposals are not about addressing the impact of the coronavirus and the measures our nation has taken to stem its spread. They are about enacting a wishlist of policies that Democratic lawmakers have failed to get Congress to pass.
For example, the House passed a $15 minimum wage bill last year, passed the pro-union PRO Act this year, and has for many years tried to implement a permanent federal paid leave mandate.
These are popular ideas among a far-left activist base, but are not bipartisan efforts because of their devastating impacts. The $15 federal minimum wage would cost between one and three million jobs according to the Congressional Budget Office. The PRO Act would expose non-union members to harassment and reduce independent contracting opportunities. A federal paid leave mandate would crowd out private paid leave benefits.
Why are lawmakers pushing for these partisan proposals during a time of crisis?
We have some clues from the lawmakers themselves and other political leaders:
Rahm Emmanuel said in a tv debate with former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie:
Never allow a crisis to go to waste… start planning for the future.
What does planning for the future mean? It could mean planning for another pandemic, but it likely means reshaping our economy to their desired ends.
Majority Whip James Clyburn said so on a call with hundreds of Democratic congressional lawmakers:
This is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.
What could that vision look like? Apart from the ideas in their stimulus bill, an open letter published in Medium on Sunday by leftist activists and academics provides more of what activists are pushing Congress to adopt as part of stimulus negotiations: the Green New Deal. Specifically:
… we propose an ambitious Green Stimulus of at least $2 trillion that creates millions of family-sustaining green jobs, lifts standards of living, accelerates a just transition off fossil fuels, ensures a controlling stake for the public in all private sector bailout plans, and helps make our society and economy stronger and more resilient in the face of pandemic, recession, and climate emergency in the years ahead.
Will these ideas make it into future stimulus discussions? Very possibly.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is urging her members to continue pitching their ideas to committee chairs and to do so quickly. She reportedly added,
Time is of the essence.
The pandemic will last only so long. This creates a narrow window for policymakers to get partisan policies passed that they have unsuccessfully advanced during normal times.
Americans should be disgusted that instead of focusing on stopping the spread of COVID-19, limiting future damage of the disease on our economy, and helping businesses and families recover from its hardships, congressional leaders are exploiting this crisis. Alas, we are back to politics as usual.