Republicans aren't as dumb as they know their supporters are. They realize that it's too soon for most businesses to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic, so they have to protect businesses from themselves. Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that any future relief bills will include legislation shielding businesses from “litigation related to the outbreak." It's a “win-win" for companies and a “lose-lose" for their employees and customers. That's our capitalism!

Failed college actor and even less successful senator Ted Cruz said on "The Hugh Hewitt Show" Wednesday that he agreed with McConnell. The government must protect businesses if our economy is to recover.

CRUZ: If we do nothing, there will be an onslaught, a tidal wave of lawsuits going after every small business in America for opening up and risking COVID-19.

Not everyone is Donald Trump. You can't just sue people for no valid reason. A “tidal wave of lawsuits" would happen because businesses had exposed people to the coronavirus. Cruz wants to spin this as nothing more than con artists from a David Mamet movie screwing over innocent small businesses. (Republicans always talk about “small businesses" when the corporate masters they serve are lumbering behemoths.)

CRUZ: I fully expect that [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer and [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi will go to the barricades to protect the ability of the trial lawyers to sue everyone and try to extract billions from the system.

Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi might say they care about the workers who get sick at businesses that forbid them from wearing masks or staying home when sick, but they're really just in it for the trial lawyers. Wow, this is just farm-fresh crap.


We've already witnessed exploitation of the current system, and it's businesses who are the bad actors not workers who just want to stay alive and feed their families (preferably at the same time).

McConnell told Fox's Neil Cavuto that he — and thus the entire Senate — isn't “interested in passing legislation that does not have liability protection." That's his “red line."

MCCONNELL: We need to provide protection, litigation protection, for those who have been on the front lines, hospitals, doctors, nurses.

Moscow Mitch doesn't give a fuck about any of the people he's just mentioned.

MCCONNELL: Imagine you are a businessman thinking about reopening, and you've heard that trial lawyers all over the country are sharpening their pencils getting ready to sue you claiming that you didn't engage in proper distancing or other issues related to health and safety. Look, we can't pass another bill unless we have liability protection.

As a wise person once said, “Everyone hates trial lawyers until they stub their toe." McConnell probably has a lawyer on retainer if he burns his tongue on coffee that was too hot. Still, the image of leering, menacing trial lawyers threatening the world with sharp pencils sure is scary. I don't watch horror movies, but I presume trial lawyers turn up in most of them.

Seinfeld--Kramer sues Java World (coffee company) www.youtube.com

Republicans love to socialize risk for businesses while privatizing their profits. The working conditions at most businesses are significantly less safe than they were a year ago. Few companies are interested in paying their employees more in acknowledgment of this risk. Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham wants to remove any leverage workers might have to stay home and stay safe even when Republican governors recklessly reopen their states.

It's obvious by now that just like the 2008 economic collapse, the rich are going to get by just fine and the poor will end up even further behind than they were. This is the invisible middle finger of the “free market," and as economic whiz Dean Baker observes, it's a deliberate, ongoing scam.

The rich have structured the market in ways that hugely increase their share of income. They pretend that this was just a natural market outcome. Many liberals accommodate this fiction, complaining that conservatives are "market fundamentalists" who dislike government.

Anyhow, the bailout from the pandemic required surrendering the illusion. The industries that were hardest hit rushed to Congress and the White House and demanded, and got, handouts. The sums involved were enormous. The airline industry got $17.5 billion (more than 10 million food stamp person-years) in grants and another $7.5 billion in government-subsidized loans. The cargo airline industry got $4 billion in grants and subsidized loans. The oil industry is getting a large bailout that is still be mapped out. Boeing was designated to get $17 billion in grants and subsidized loans.

This is all in full public view. While many workers will be left unemployed, with meager unemployment benefits (once the initial $600 a week bonus period ends), billionaire shareholders will have the value of their portfolios propped by the government. CEOs and other high-level executives, who pocket millions or even tens of millions in pay annually, will remain secure in their high-paying jobs and will be able to maintain their lavish lifestyles as though nothing had happened.

Republicans want to make this a false choice: Either we hurry up and jump start the economy or we all starve. They want to force vulnerable people back to work in conditions they know are unsafe. This “new normal" could resemble the Industrial Revolution where high unemployment forces workers to accept whatever jobs they can find in whatever environment their employers are willing to provide.

This is not the only option. We can tax the ever-living fuck out of billionaires — especially those quarantining safely on their super yachts — and pay to keep most people at home until the crisis has passed. No one needs to risk their life to work the lunch rush at Buffalo Wild Wings. We should also handsomely pay the essential workers helping the country tread water. Every day, they expose themselves to a lung-shredding disease so we don't have to. They should have something to show for it.

Instead, Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell and pretty much every Republican creep wants to protect the most powerful. God forbid they endure even the tiniest bloody nose from all this. We're tired of the same old Republican scam, and we should demand that our Democratic representatives push back hard. Looking at you, Chuck and Nancy. That's our red line.

[The Hill / CEPR]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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