We are witnessing something unusual: Democrats thwarting a Republican attempt to get money to people. Yes, the Democrats finally have found something on which they do not want to spend your money: additional paycheck protection for average Americans.
The Paycheck Protection Program had received claims for forgivable loans to businesses amounting to $98 billion by the middle of this week. The rescue legislation had made $350 billion available. The administration requested an additional $250 billion.
This as unemployment claims skyrocketed and keeping employers in business becomes ever more essential to saving jobs. Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell asked for a voice vote approving the additional funds.
Democrats would not go along and put forward a counter proposal. The counter proposal for which they stalled relief to besieged Americans wasn’t just about relief, however. Unlike McConnell’s 25-line attempt to get help to people quickly, however, this proposal was complicated (and more expensive).
The Wall Street Journal explains:
[Their proposal] would provide $250 billion for small businesses, but some of the funds would have set-asides, according to a memo explaining the plan, including $45 billion for “small community-based lenders,” such as “minority depository institutions, certified development corporations, microlenders.” The more complicated the rules, the slower that the cash would flow.
The Democratic bill would add another $100 billion for health-care providers, though the $100 billion that Congress passed two weeks ago isn’t running dry yet. Plus there’s another $150 billion for states and localities, to backfill their tax revenues. Plus an increase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, of $25 a month per person, on average. Oh, and work requirements would be lifted for two years.
Mr. McConnell objected, naturally. His bill—all 25 lines of it—was narrow and should have been uncontroversial. Instead Congress is back to stalemate. As Democrats look at this unprecedented economic crisis, they are unfortunately still channeling Rahm Emanuel’s old line that it would be a terrible thing to waste.
There are a number of problems with how PPP is set up, but that’s not why Democrats would not go along. It’s is unfortunate that this is the one time I can recall when they didn’t want to spend money.