Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0

The Senate's $2.2 trillion-with-a-t coronavirus economic relief package is heading for a vote in the House of Representatives today, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted at her weekly press conference the bill would pass with a "strong bipartisan vote." But Pelosi isn't done yet — she's already calling for a fourth relief package, possibly because she can read a record-setting unemployment graph as well as anyone else. Like for instance the team that laid out the front page of today's New York Times, which is so instantly iconic we're certain it'll be reprinted in history books for years to come:

Image: New York Times on Twitter

Pelosi explained Thursday,

The bill that was passed in the Senate last night and that we will take up tomorrow is about mitigation. There's so many things we didn't get in any of these bills yet in the way that we need to.

Republicans are already griping that it's far too soon to be talking about further spending to offset the crisis, because of course they are; some are already clutching their pearls at the idea that some laid-off workers may be spoiled rotten by emergency unemployment spending. The party that made opposition to the New Deal an article of faith isn't about to embrace helping people merely because the economy appears to be headed off a cliff. (That, apparently, is Wonkette's job.) Not even when that cliff is visualized as dramatically as on the front page of today's Times.


So what wild-eyed far-left socialism does Pelosi want this this time? Politico has the deets:

Some of the things Democrats are pushing for include additional funding for state and local governments to address the rapidly spreading virus; expanding the pool of people who qualify for family and medical leave; more federal dollars for food aid; stronger worker protections for first responders; funding to offset coronavirus treatment costs; and stabilizing pensions.

Pelosi also said she doesn't think "we've seen the end of direct payments" and even raised the idea to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday of transmitting the first round electronically.

Those all look like they're directly related to helping deal with the costs of the pandemic, so get ready for Republicans to start griping that Pelosi wants to "ram through a liberal wish list that has nothing to do with the medical crisis."

As ever when non-CEOs are in dire need, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy popped up to say let's not be in a hurry now, because maybe this Thunderbird roaring toward the canyon up ahead will miss it, now that we've nudged the steering wheel a bit. On Fox News Thursday morning, McCarthy suggested we wait a bit to see if everything works out OK:

We have now just passed what would be the third bill. Let's let this work. Let's let this work inside America [...] We have now given the resources to make and solve this problem. We don't need to be crafting another bill right now. Let's let these $2 trillion go to work for us, plus the $8 billion ahead of time and the billions of dollars we just passed on the second bill.

Kids, if you're not already rereading Albert Camus's The Plague for our invasion of the Slog's Quarantine Club — or even if you are! — you may want to refer back to our discussion last year of Winter War, Erich Rauchway's history of how Herbert Hoover tried to sabotage the New Deal in the months before FDR took office. (Hoover spent the last months of his presidency doing all he could to persuade FDR and the Congress to stick with Hoover's own failed Free Market approach, and actively worked to undermine support for the incoming New Dealers.) Whenever people desperately need help, the Republican game, going back 90 years now, has been all about waiting for the wisdom of the market to kick in. Even when the market is pretty much busted to pieces by a set of circumstances that are unlike anything in a macroeconomics textbook.

On the Senate side, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says he's up for further aid to help deal with the pandemic and the economic fallout, telling Politico, "We should be willing, able to come back in a bipartisan way and do more if we need it, and I believe we'll probably have to do that, one way or another."

Similarly, Sen. Bernie Sanders told NPR in an interview aired this morning that sitting around and hoping for the best is not a solution when people are hurting:

What kind of system is it where people today are dying, knowing they're sick, but they're not going to the hospital because they can't afford the bill that they'll be picking up? [...]

"I think given the nature of the healthcare crisis and the economic crisis, Congress will be back once again for a major, major stimulus package,

Considering the current "president" and Senate we're stuck with, it's not clear whether an aggressive fourth relief bill will get anywhere. Beyond the political inertia, there's also the practical difficulty of pulling the House and Senate back together once they're out for an extended shelter-in-place recess. Besides, the people hurting the most aren't big donors, so they'll just have to wait and see whether things get better on their own.

[Politico / NPR / Winter War / Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons License 2.0]

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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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