It is a shit sandwich! Get it?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning to force a vote on a "skinny" stimulus bill this week, mostly because he knows it's unlikely to win any Democratic support, and then Republicans can campaign on how Democrats aren't even "helping" with coronavirus relief. Because presumably Republicans are dumb enough to argue that opposing a near-useless bill is some very ugly partisanship on the part of Democrats.

In an attempt to win over Republicans who think there's been too much help for non-corporate Americans already, McConnell's little bill would only provide about $500 billion in aid, roughly half of what many GOP senators considered extravagant in the last-minute dog's breakfast of a proposal McConnell put out in August. McConnell never even brought that mess to the Senate floor for debate. By scheduling a quick vote on this newest wholly inadequate measure, McConnell hopes he can get 51 votes — enough to say "Republican unity," but well short of the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster by Democrats. That will help America a lot, since unlike last month, Donald Trump wouldn't be blaming Dems for Republicans' refusal to agree with each other. He could accuse Dems of refusing to take even a bite of the yummy shit sandwich on offer.

Reuters this morning reported that the actual amount in the proposal will come to less than a third of the August proposal, just $300 billion, to be paid for with leftover CARES Act funds and change found in the seats of B-2 Stealth bombers.


As you'll recall, roughly a million years ago, in May, House Democrats passed a comprehensive stimulus bill that would have picked up where the CARES Act left off. But Republicans sat around with their thumbs up their asses — roughly to the elbow — waiting to see if the economy rebounded, because surely the three trillion dollars in the first three coronavirus bills would solve everything (nobody thought those bills would solve everything). Then, with the CARES Act about to expire at the end of July, McConnell tried to get his own party to agree on the outlines of a new plan, but Senate Republicans didn't wanna.

Democrats said they'd be willing to agree to big cuts in their May plan, as long as there was real relief for Americans, like extending emergency unemployment; helping state and local governments whose tax bases had been nearly wiped out by the economic shutdown; and radical Democrat priorities like rent assistance, COVID-19 testing, nutrition programs, and making sure Americans could vote without contracting a disease that's still killing us. That was unacceptable because it might solve problems, and Republicans believe government cannot solve problems. So instead, Republicans said they were through negotiating until after the August recess, and then blamed Democrats for politicizing the pandemic that Republicans don't think is necessarily real to begin with.

So what's in the new, "skinny" aid bill? Not much! As the Washington Post details, it would extend temporary unemployment benefits of just $300 a week (half of the amount in the CARES Act) until the end of the year, provide a new round of loans for small businesses, and provide a pittance of $10 billion for child care, plus another $10 billion for the post office. There might be some funding for coronavirus testing and schools, too. But no second round of checks to American families, no help for renters and landlords, no additional food assistance, and no help to state and local governments.

But you'd better bet your ass it includes McConnell's "red-line" item, a big fat grant of legal immunity for companies, hospitals, and others, protecting them from liability for actions that led to people becoming infected. People must be personally responsible for their health, and that means companies don't have to take any responsibility at all.

McConnell may not even get all 51 Republican senators on board with his crappy bill, because Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is holding out for a tax credit that would go to pay for private schools, and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) wants something similar to reward parents who homeschool their kids. Unlike state and local government, gutting public schools is something all Americans benefit from! Other Republicans say they can't support that, so if Cruz and Hawley don't drop their demands, McConnell's skinny puppy wouldn't even have a simple majority, making it hard to put the blame on Democrats. (Donald Trump might still say the bill had a huge 49-2 "majority," since only Republican votes matter.

In a letter to Democratic senators, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said last week that McConnell and Republicans

"... may call their proposal 'skinny,";but it would be more appropriate to call it 'emaciated.'Their proposal appears to be completely inadequate and, by every measure, fails to meet the needs of the American people.

McConnell today launched right into blaming Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for playing politics with his bill, which again may not even get 51 votes from Republicans. But Democrats, you see, are just monsters. By insisting the Senate pass a real bill that would help Americans, McConnell said:

"They do not want American families to see any more bipartisan aid before the polls close on President Trump's re-election. They have taken Americans' health, jobs, and schools hostage for perceived partisan gain."

We dunno about that, Mitch. Seems to us if Republicans would get on board with helping Americans stay in their homes, feed their families, and actually support the economy, a lot of credit might even go to Donald Trump, and a bunch of Republicans looking for reelection this year could brag about having helped. But that would require doing something, so clearly it's far more important to have something you can use in attack ads.

[CNN / WaPo / Reuters / The Hill / WaPo]

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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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