Twitter video screenshot

The House of Representatives passed the Biden administration's $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill yesterday with zero Republican votes; President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law on Friday. But before that final 220-211 vote, which included one Democratic defection, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy had to give a passionate speech full of lies about how terrible the bill was, and predicting that "History will not be kind to what transpires here today," because if there's anything Americans hate, it's financial help during an economic crisis.

Or maybe history will remember Wednesday as the day Congress acted to lift millions of Americans out of poverty, particularly if some measures in the COVID relief bill are made permanent. We're guessing that's the one that will really be remembered. But sure, in the interest of bipartisanship, here's McCarthy's long, repetitious, lie-filled speech about how the American Rescue Plan, which shares a lot of features that were in the previous two economic aid packages that passed with bipartisan support, is now suddenly the worst most evil thing ever because there's a Democrat in the White House. It's not a relief package at all, in fact, McCarthy insisted: It's socialism.

Here's McCarthy blathering on, in case you're some sort of masochist, but we can assure you we watched the whole thing and have lost the brain cells to prove it; there's also a copy of the original text here, with the charming headline, "McCarthy Floor Speech on Pelosi's Payoff to Progressives." It's not a transcript, however, since it mentions San Francisco only once, while McCarthy actually brought the city up every third sentence or so, because 1) Nancy Pelosi is from there and 2) Why else do Republicans obsess about San Francisco? They hate cable cars and bridges.


Here are just a few of the dumb lies and distortions McCarthy shoveled out during his speech, starting with a whopper about whether this is really a COVID relief bill or not. Now, we should note here that the conservative-leaning Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which opposes the bill, nonetheless found that 85 percent of its spending does indeed go to COVID relief and stuff like vaccines and testing that directly fight the pandemic. CRFB gripes that 15 percent of the bill's funds are "spent on long-standing policy priorities that are not directly related to the current crisis."

Nonetheless, McCarthy has picked up a bogus talking point that somehow only nine percent of the bill's funding is really COVID relief, while the rest is just a "laundry list of leftwing priorities," by which presumably he means the emergency unemployment insurance, the assistance with health insurance premiums, and Crom only knows what else. He also helpfully redefined some words, explaining that when the Biden White House praises the bill for achieving significant progressive goals, "for those watching, 'progressive' means 'socialism.'"

But according to McCarthy, the overwhelming reason to oppose the bill was that all of the money will go to San Francisco (or at least, according to him, $600 million, which is the same thing). We didn't actually keep count, but he must have thought it was a killer line, because he kept coming back to it again and again — if it wasn't the city's deficit, which must be where all but six dollars of the $1.9 trillion is going, it was a nearby subway project that he also mentioned several times, because if there's one thing the GOP hates more than gay homosexuals in San Francisco, it's gay homosexuals on subways.

As he went on, it became clear there were many many bad guys who will get all the COVID relief money, while virtually no money goes to real Americans at all, no matter what the $1,400 increase in your bank balance in a week or two may say. (You read Wonkette, so you're automatically a fake American.) Among the very undeserving bad guys who will benefit from the bill, McCarthy identified:

  • San Francisco
  • Federal workers
  • Planned Parenthood
  • California, which (yes he said this) is where San Francisco is
  • State and local governments, none of which are hurting except the wasteful ones
  • Homeless people in San Francisco's "alcohol and cannabis"
  • State employees
  • Illegal immigrants
  • Nancy Pelosi voters, in San Francisco

Incredibly, McCarthy somehow claimed that the bill, which budgets $14 billion for vaccine distribution and $125 billion for K-12 education, wouldn't actually help anyone at all, except of course San Francisco and federal employees:

But will this bill help people get back to work? Nope.

Will it help students get back in the classroom ? Nope.

Will it help get vaccines to those who want it? Nope.

Just to prove what an intellectual heavyweight he is, McCarthy built toward his conclusion that "a book called 'The Prince Machiavellian'" — no doubt he was thinking of the great parfumeur to the Medicis — warned that "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." It's certainly not the worst of McCarthy's idiotic lies, but we should point out that phrase was actually coined by the British politician Lord Acton in the 19th century. Niccolo Machiavelli would have been more like, "Absolute power is fuckin' awesome!"

Now, if you're in the mood for something a little more fact-based, we'd point you to the Urban Institute's analysis (PDF link) of just four elements in the American Rescue Plan, and how they would help to reduce poverty in the USA right away. The analysis looks at the plan's extended unemployment benefits, its temporary increase in SNAP benefits, the $1,400 individual payments, and the "advance portion of the increased child tax credit," and concludes that those alone would do some pretty good things!

  • The poverty rate, which without the bill would be 13.7 percent in 2021, would drop to 8.7 percent.
  • Poverty would be cut in half for children and for people in households where at least one job has been lost due to the pandemic recession. For households that didn't have any job loss, poverty would also be reduced by about a third.
  • The Black poverty rate would fall by about 42 percent; the Hispanic rate by about 39 percent; and the poverty rate for whites would be reduced by about 34 percent.
  • About 16 million Americans would no longer be living in poverty for 2021. (Including, according to other estimates, some 4.1 million children.)
And yes, some of these gains won't last because of the temporary nature of programs like the one-time checks or the emergency unemployment, but things like the higher SNAP benefits could certainly be made permanent, and several congressional Democrats are already pledging to make the monthly child benefit permanent. And if anything, the Urban Institute's estimates of the law's poverty-fighting effects may be a bit low, since its analysis doesn't include provisions like the incentives to increase Medicaid expansion and increasing the number of low-income earners who'll have no premiums for individual Obamacare health plans.

Dang, that socialism sounds just terrible, helping so many people get out of poverty. Why, we hear they don't even need to be from San Francisco!

Here, have all our What's In the Rescue Plan? posts

It's really a big freakin' deal, isn't it?

[BBC / Kevin McCarthy / The Week / WATN-TV / Urban Institute]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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