Last Friday Congress passed a one-week spending bill to avert the government shutdown that would otherwise have occurred at midnight that night. I said then that they would not have finalized the budget by this Friday and would have to do it again. Sure enough … only this time, they only passed a two-day spending bill that will keep the government functional (as much as it can be said to be under present circumstances) until midnight on Sunday night. Said the notorious Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell …
“As of right now, we have not yet reached a final agreement, regretfully. There’s no reason why the federal government funding should lapse while we hammer out our remaining differences.”
And you’ve had how many months to ‘hammer out’ those differences, Mr. McConnell??? WHAT the heck have you people been doing for the past twelve months? Oh yeah … licking the boots of the Oaf in the Oval Office … silly me. One week before Christmas, and they haven’t managed to approve a budget. If the government shuts down, it’s going to be a pretty damned dire Christmas for federal employees, some of whom will be furloughed, others will be expected to work without pay. It wasn’t enough that the pandemic has stolen much of the joy of the season, and now this.
Also under discussion is the latest stimulus bill which frankly I don’t expect to see at all, for they have been allegedly working on it for months now. The plan under discussion would provide funding for $600 stimulus checks for millions of Americans, the revival of a lapsed supplemental federal unemployment payment at $300 per week, food and rental assistance, and hundreds of billions of dollars for businesses, schools and vaccine distribution. Without action by Congress, unemployment benefits are set to run out for millions of Americans next week – Christmas week.
Apparently, they were close to a deal on the stimulus bill until at the last minute, Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, proposed a measure that would bar a future Treasury secretary from restarting five emergency loan programs that the Fed has created to provide an economic backstop during the pandemic.
The programs have kept credit flowing to medium-size businesses, state and local governments and corporations. Concern centered on the breadth of Mr. Toomey’s proposal: It would prohibit both those programs and any “similar” one, which could curb the Fed’s future ability to keep credit flowing to states and businesses during emergency situations such as the pandemic.
Democrats charged that the language was a last-ditch effort to deprive Mr. Biden and his administration of critical tools to support the economic recovery. I am inclined to agree … it seems to me like more of the same petty partisan politics we have been seeing for the past 10 years from Republicans in Congress.
Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, blocked all efforts to raise the amount of stimulus checks to individuals from $600 to the $1,200 from the original bill earlier this year, saying …
“We will not have learned the lessons from our very hurried, very rushed, very massive earlier relief packages. We’re just going to do more of the same, another trillion dollars.”
I doubt Mr. Johnson has ever lost sleep wondering how to pay his mortgage or buy food for his children, with his $10.4 million net worth. I’ve got an idea … let’s cut members of Congress’ pay to $600 per month and let them find out just how far $600 goes! Not that most of them would notice, for most have a net worth far more than all the readers of this blog combined.
Lest you think there has been no compromise on the stimulus bill, there most certainly has! As noted above, Bernie Sanders and other democrats planned for a larger stimulus amount to individuals, but backed down in the interest of compromise. Even worse, in my opinion, is the clause that will protect businesses from liability that arises from failure to provide workplace safety. WHY should businesses be held harmless if they do not put into effect proper safeguards to protect their most valuable asset – their employees? The democrats in Congress fought against this stipulation, but compromised in the interest of the greater good. And where did it get us? Absolutely nowhere. Mitch McConnell says they are close … I wonder if people will appreciate being “close” to being able to afford food next month, or pay the rent?
And if you want to add insult to injury … even as congressional leaders have failed for months to deliver desperately needed economic assistance in the form of a stimulus measure, they were at the front of the line to receive a vaccine that the vast majority of Americans do not yet have access to and likely won’t until well after the middle of next year. We must protect these do-nothing, corrupt a-holes, now mustn’t we? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
So, as it stands now, there will be no stimulus checks, no help for those out of work or whose businesses have closed due to the pandemic, AND … the government is likely to shut down as of midnight on Sunday. I say we fire this whole lot and start over, for the are NOT earning the pay we work so hard to give them!