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Negotiators make progress but fail to clinch coronavirus stimulus bill on Monday as well

Negotiations over the coronavirus stimulus package continued on Monday as well. Senate leaders and the Trump administration, however, neared a bipartisan agreement Monday night.

Despite hours of negotiations that carried before midnight, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin left the Capitol without a deal, but were optimistic on announcing the deal Tuesday morning, according to Washington Times.

“Secretary Mnuchin called the president, we told him we were very, very close to an agreement; he seemed very happy with that and wanted us to try to — get us to get it done tomorrow,” Schumer told the reporters.

A bipartisan deal appeared possible on Saturday as well, but rolled to Sunday after Democrats accused Republicans of shying away from the negotiations. Thereafter, Democrats blocked the package over a procedural hurdle. “All of a sudden the Democratic leader and the speaker of the House shows up, and we’re back to square on,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said at the time.

Despite the negotiations over the past four days, there are still a few issues that remain unresolved as of Monday evening. These issues reportedly include several under the jurisdiction of the Senate Health, Labor and Pensions, and Education Committee. Also, there are issues related to student loans, notes a report from the Washington Post.

Lawmakers have already missed their own deadline of concluding the legislation before the end of the weekend. Over the course of negotiations, the package has grown by over a trillion dollars. 

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Left View

A Political Pandemic 

A disappointment for everyone. The American people suffer while the two party’s bicker, unable to reach an agreement on a bill to aid the entire country. Republicans and Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for their failure to find common ground on an issue that is not partisan. Yet, here we are, divided along familiar lines, with ideological differences manifesting themselves in the details of the coronavirus stimulus package.

In the Democrats defense, though I am by no means impressed that it is taking this long for them to find common ground with the Republicans, they are focusing on gaining more protections in the bill for the common American citizen and worker. The idea that this bill may provide corporations with billions of dollars in aid without oversight that money goes into their workers is outrageous. It may be argued that it is cynical of the democrats to approach the bill this way, but there is a precedent for their beliefs. The Trump administration gave a 14% tax break to large companies so that they might be able to increase the amount of money they put back into the American people via hiring or wage increases. The reality is that most companies spent more buying their own shares than they did creating jobs or increasing wages. So, the Democrats’ fear that Trump is going to give more of the economy away to corporations who give nothing back to the American people is justified.

Still, this stimulus should not be a source of consternation. I think it only fair to hold both parties accountable in this situation. We know from his update today in the senate that McConnel views the democrats as being cruel in holding up the stimulus package, whilst Schumer defended the Democrats decision to hold the bill as an issue of workers rights. Petty ideological divides have no place in pandemics. The senators need to pass this bill immediately, or the American people need to seriously consider who they are voting to represent them over the next few months. Stay safe and lookout for each other.

Right
Response

You mention precedents, let's talk about that. Democrats overwhelmingly supported the 2008 financial services bailout (i.e. the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, EESA, of 2008). Then, the House vote was 263-171 and it passed. Most Democrats, including Obama, were in favor (172 yeas to 63 nays), while a slight majority of Republicans voted against (91 yeas to 108 nays).

The EESA authorized the Treasury to buy up to $700 billion in troubled assets, a figure later reduced to $475 billion. Yet now, the Democrats balk at a similar $500 billion "Exchange Stabilization Fund", calling it a "slush fund". What's changed? For the record, most of the money was repaid by 2017 and eventually the government estimated a net gain of $1.83 billion by 2019.

The Democrats also fail to state a key difference - the wall street banks and financial services companies that benefited in 2008 aren't the same targets this time around (its industries damaged most by the covid-19, including hotel, travel, airline and cruise ships). These are hardly "rich wall street banks" we're talking about. A new "Corporate Socialism" moniker has been floated by Progressive Democrats to describe these corporate loans and that certainly isn't constructive, either.

Democrats want to force language in the bill that would seek assurances that beneficiary companies would commit to retaining all employees - this is simply wishful thinking by Democrats. They need to understand a company must sometimes shed workers to survive. If this so called "slush fund" doesn't provide enough funds for companies, there may be few alternatives.

But it gets worse, while Senate Democrats like Chuck Schumer worked closely with US Treasury Sec. Mnuchin on a deal through the weekend, and into Monday night (stating they were very close to a deal), Nancy Pelosi announced a competing Bill in the House, running some 1,400 pages and including things like "green emissions" standards for companies receiving federal loan assistance. This does not help and will only further prolong the aid so badly needed.

As Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, once famously stated, "Never let a good crisis go to waste"...

Right View

Pelosi is Back in DC...and Playing Politics 

For once, Congress was on track to pass important bipartisan legislation. The relief was on the way for workers and businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak…and then everything fell apart.

Phases one and two of Congress’s coronavirus stimulus package passed mostly without a hitch and were quickly signed into law by President Trump. Phase three, which includes checks to be sent out to most American families, has been a different story.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was especially frustrated. “All of a sudden, the Democratic leader [Chuck Schumer, D-NY] and the speaker of the House [Nancy Pelosi, D-CA] shows up and we’re back to square one,” McConnell said on Monday. He is exactly right.

The Senate stayed in session throughout their Spring recess working at the Capitol while the House members were back in their districts. Well, the House is back and Pelosi is causing a stir.

Democrats have complained the original phase three bill was too focused on corporations and ignored the workers. Bogus. The original phase three bill provided for $1200 to be sent to every American who made under $95,000 annually. Five-hundred dollars would also be sent to every family for each child.

The phase three bill also provided for aid and loans to be sent out to large and small businesses. But this also helps the workers. We don’t want this epidemic to create millions of wards of the state that have no job to go back to because the company they once belonged to has been destroyed. I think stimulus checks are a good idea. But keeping the companies and corporations afloat through this crisis is just as important.

Also, during this crisis do you think the average American worker cares about $35 million for the JFK Performing Arts Center, or forcing all states to have early voting, or forcing airlines to reduce their carbon emissions by 2025? Well, all of that is hidden is Pelosi’s version of the coronavirus stimulus plan. Another example of her disgraceful partisanship even during a major crisis.

Left
Response

I agree with you Antonio. Pelosi and the Democrats should not be trying to force partisan measures into the stimulus. It’s a smart tactic at a time when the corporations are in desperate need of a government bailout, to force them into complying with better standards of running their businesses in order to receive money. It is also a harsh tactic which betrays a desire to fulfill party obligations more than help the American people. Even though the democrats are trying to fight for more money and oversight to aid the Average American citizen, in such an extreme situation their failure to make that happen quickly is not good.

What the Democrats still have going for them is that they are looking to the precedent set by the 2008 financial crisis stimulus package and trying to circumnavigate its failures. The stimulus in 2008 included billions in aid for Americans but the aid was hidden behind strenuous rules and riddled with problems that made it difficult for Americans to receive it. This was happening to the average person while corporations easily received billions of dollars. In trying to avoid the issues that plagued the 2008 bill the Democrats are simply drafting the most helpful stimulus package they can.

The need for oversight is paramount. Corporations need to be held accountable for the money they receive from the government from the moment they receive it. Businesses grow plump feasting on the wealth of the American consumer (consumer spending drives the majority of the American economy), they can at least be held responsible when using tax-payer money to remain afloat in hard times. Why the Republican senators are not agreeing with this, I cannot fathom.

But I have one more criticism for the Democrats. Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown said yesterday that they need to “learn from the mistakes of 10 years ago”. In focusing on the failures of the 2008 stimulus the Democrats are betraying a selfish instinct. Is this stimulus being delayed out of genuine concern for the workers, or out of fear of embarrassing the party a la 2008?