Forget the economy. Democrats want to make political hay. Despite Twitter feeds full of concern for the American worker, liberal leaders are making it quite clear that it is not the American worker or family they want to help its their political cronies. Two weeks after working with Republicans to push out small business relief, the Paycheck Protection Program has run dry. Unfortunately, so has the Democrats' compassion. And there's no telling when -- or if -- it'll return.
He said "please" twice. "To my Democratic colleagues," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) implored, "please, please do not block emergency aid you don't even oppose, just because you want something more." But his appeal fell on deaf ears. Without Senator Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) cooperation, there was nothing the chamber could do but go home -- leaving small businesses, which employs about 47 percent of the workforce, and their employees in a real lurch.
By Thursday of this week, the popular loan forgiveness program that Congress kicked off last week was already out of cash. Both sides knew this would happen, considering how strapped small businesses are during the virus. What they didn't know was what a stink Democrats would raise about reauthorizing it. "Here we have a successful program that's already got bipartisan support -- negotiated by good members from both sides of the political aisle," Senator Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) explained, "and all we're doing is [trying to] keep that momentum going..." Instead, he shook his head, Democrats "just seem to want to use every moment to add [to their] politically extreme ideas."
Even the media was aghast at the Democrats' new demands, as editorial pages across the country blasted liberals for holding the funding hostage. "The tragedy," the New York Post pointed out, "is both sides agree on the need for the $250 billion, and Republicans are even open to the Dems' other asks but want to wait to better assess the need..." Surely, the paper insisted, "partisanship... should take a back seat during this kind of crisis." Especially since, as the Wall Street Journal argued, "Every minute that passes, another small business may go bust or lay off staff."
This is a bill, by the way, that's two pages long. It's a clean, straightforward proposal to add more aid. "We're not talking about making any policy changes," McConnell said on the Senate floor. "I'm literally talking about deleting the number '350'[billion] and writing '650' [billion] in its place." Seventeen million Americans lost their jobs last week, Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) fumed, and this is how Democrats respond?
Meanwhile, President Trump's team is trying to roll out a plan to reopen the economy -- acutely aware that liberals are trying to sabotage whatever economy is left. "We don't have time for the partisan games," he said before laying out a series of guidelines for "starting our life again." Making it clear that this would be a staggered approach, the president told Americans that the administration would be taking it "one careful step at a time." If the states can meet certain benchmarks -- like a consistent decline in cases and hospital availability -- then it will be up to them when to initiate the first wave of controlled gatherings at restaurants, theaters, sporting venue, and gyms with "strict physical distancing protocols."
For the hardest-hit states, the return to normalcy will take a little longer. In Delaware, the Democratic governor said that they could be "weeks away from the starting line, and then you have to have 14 days of declining cases, of declining symptoms, and hospital capacity." The worst thing anyone could do, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice agreed, is move too quickly "and then we get into a situation of people dying like flies."
Americans share his concern. Two in three worry that the restrictions will be eased too quickly, leading to a second, more deadly outbreak. But, as Senator Cramer reassured everyone on "Washington Watch," the president is doing the best he can to make informed decisions. "To his credit, he listens to everybody -- not just [certain ones] -- but to everybody... And reopening the economy in the same manner makes sense."
"[President Trump] will always be judged by the mainstream media and people on the Left in the context of what perfection should have been -- and 20/20 [hindsight]. But when you think of what's happened day after day after day, could you look back and say, this could've been done better, that could've been done better? Yes. But I don't know how you could have asked for more from him and from his administration than he's provided in terms of this pandemic and getting us through it. And we're not through it clearly, but at least I think we can see the other side."