Fool Me Once

In 2009, when the new Obama administration decided to make heath care reform its first goal, President Obama was under the misguided notion that he could work with Republicans. Not that he wasn’t warned. Then Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his gang of obstructionists made it very clear the day after Obama won the election that they would block all of Obama’s agenda. Under the guidance of Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, the White House and the Democratic controlled congress worked for months to hammer out. The final bill was a complicated mess, thousands of pages long that feel far short of what the majority of Americans wanted, a public option, Medicare by in or Medicare for all. It did have 200 Republican amendments. In the end not one Republican voted for the Affordable Care Act because the bill was too long and it had to be passed under reconciliation. That is when the Senate Democrats under the misguided leadership of Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) should have ended the filibuster.

Now, here we are 12 years later still dithering with an even more obstinate Republican Party over the CoVid-19 recue bill. Though it does sound like Biden and the Democrats have finally awoken.

The problem with the Republicans’ ‘offer’ on a COVID relief package

By Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog

Republicans apparently expect people to believe legislation should be assessed, not on its merits, but in its capacity to make the GOP minority happy.

s Democratic officials move forward with an ambitious COVID relief package, Senate Republicans have focused on two principal concerns. The first is that it would hurt their feelings if the Democratic majority passed a bill without them — a complaint that no one should take seriously for all sorts of reasons.

But the second GOP talking point is that the existing proposal, presented weeks ago by President Joe Biden’s White House, would do too much to help the economy and struggling Americans. What kind of proposal do Republicans have in mind? Over the weekend, their vision came into sharper focus.

The Republicans’ proposed package is much smaller than Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal, and includes $160 billion for vaccines, $4 billion for health and substance abuse services, the continuation of current unemployment aid and unspecified “targeted” economic assistance and help for schools.

All told, the GOP blueprint would carry a roughly $600 billion price tag, which is less than a third of what the White House has said is necessary to deliver meaningful economic results. That said, the Republicans’ proposal, presented to the White House in a written letter issued on Saturday, was signed by 10 GOP senators, which is a notable number: to overcome a Republican filibuster, a proposal would need at least 10 members of the Senate minority to vote for it. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who’s helped spearhead this effort, has apparently lined up the 10 votes.

Alternatively, of course, Democrats could simply take advantage of the budget reconciliation process, pass their own bill, and move on to the next policy priority.

But Republicans hope to prevent such an outcome with their counter-offer that’s difficult to take seriously. As a Washington Post analysis noted, this GOP contingent effectively took Biden’s plan, scrapped aid to state and cities, eliminated the minimum wage increase, slashed the value of direct-aid checks, limited the number of middle-class households that could receive direct-aid checks, and cut supplemental unemployment benefits.

And why in the world would Democrats scrap their superior bill, on purpose, which they can pass on their own, to instead embrace a meager Republican alternative? Because, some GOP senators said yesterday, it would signify “bipartisanship” and “unity.”

The game is insulting in its inanity: Republicans apparently expect people to believe legislation should be assessed, not on its merits, but in its capacity to make the GOP minority happy. Biden can sign a good bill or a bipartisan one, and Republicans want the new president to prioritize the latter over the former.

After Republican West Virginia Governor Jim Justice backed a “go-big” relief bill, conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who had been refusing to beck a bill that wasn’t bipartisan, had a change of heart announcing that he would back the $1.9 trillion relief bill