Washington Chews on a $2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Package

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When governments frantically throw more money than they can afford at a crisis -- and we're throwing trillions (yes, trillions) at the desperate war against the coronavirus with that federal relief package out of Washington -- two truths are self-evident.

One was famously expressed by Rahm Emanuel, the discredited former mayor of Chicago who dropped his re-election bid rather than get wiped out over his clumsy suppression of a police video of a black teenager being killed by a white cop. Now he dispenses wisdom as a talking head on ABC.

And the other was proclaimed by Comrade Napoleon, the talking pig from George Orwell's "Animal Farm," the malevolent social justice warrior with the curly tail who clearly understood the use of government force.

"You never let a serious crisis go to waste," said Emanuel. "And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you could not do before."

He perfectly described House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's cynical leveraging of human misery and fear as she used the coronavirus in a push for more political power. If the American media didn't lean to the left, what she did wouldn't be forgotten. But as a deal is struck, they'll champion Nancy.

And Napoleon the pig offered that other self-evident truth, proclaiming that "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

Napoleon must have been talking about Republicans, who are just as human, and therefore just as cynical, as their Democratic counterparts. They must believe a badly mismanaged airline manufacturer like Boeing is more equal than my friend Karen the Waitress, who lives on tips and who is out of work now that government has closed her diner.

I can't say if Napoleon predicted that Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina and other senators -- three Republicans and at least one Democrat, possibly others -- are more equal than other Americans. Perhaps it was just coincidence, but they miraculously dumped their personal stock holdings just before the stock market collapsed, wiping out the retirement savings of millions of Americans.

If you're blinded by partisan lights, you're free to insist that Burr and company are the beneficiaries of an innocent yet amazing coincidence. But then again, you're also free to believe in pixie dust and fairies. Burr saved his retirement bacon. How's your own 401(k) doing right about now?

What's the difference between a scandal over possible insider trading by a Republican, and a scandal involving the Illinois governor, a Democrat, who purchased a mansion next to his own, had the toilets of the new place ripped out, and had the new place declared "uninhabitable," giving him a nice property tax break of more than $300,000 before he was elected?

Nothing.

Toilets dumped. Stock dumped. It's all a matter of degree. Some animals are more equal than others.

And Pelosi, true to Emanuel's Rule of power politics, didn't waste the coronavirus crisis. Instead she grabbed it by both horns and rode it, stalling a Senate bipartisan coronavirus relief package, one that her counterpart in the Senate, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, had been hopefully optimistic about passing days earlier.

Instead, Pelosi caused the delay, dumping the Democratic Party platform that she never could have passed on her own into the relief package. It contained leftist Green New Deal ridiculousness on climate change provisions for airlines, race- and gender-based regulations on business, even federal cash for more wind and solar energy.

What did all this have to do with the stopping the virus from spreading and keeping businesses and the jobs they provide alive? Nothing.

Pelosi's majority whip, James Clyburn, the South Carolina Democrat and savior of Joe Biden's presidential campaign, explained it all by saying coronavirus politics offered his fellow Democrats "a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision."

Mercy. Did they ever. See what politicians can do with a crisis once they set their minds on it?

Taxpayers and talking pigs have long been advised to avoid the legislative sausage-making process. A $2 trillion compromise deal was struck Tuesday. It included direct cash payments to American families, business loans and an expansion of social programs that will cost the middle class more in taxes. How much more? Who can say?

When you no longer dealing in billions but in trillions, you're beginning to talk real money.

One feature of the compromise Democrats wanted was congressional oversight of a $500 billion fund managed by the U.S. Treasury Department to help struggling businesses with loans and loan guarantees. Such oversight sounds reasonable. What wasn't reasonable was the hideous partisan rhetoric from the hard left about corporate bailouts and slush funds. That was irresponsible.

The American economy wasn't hamstrung by bad management. The economy was booming. The mass unemployment and business losses are a direct result of government shutting down commerce to stop the spread of infection.

Which brings us to the third truth of coronavirus political frenzy:

With trillions being thrown around, and human nature being what it is, it is inevitable that some who'll pass out the government cash, those at the receiving end or perhaps those in the middle will act like greedy piggies and oink their way into deals.

But if you're an American taxpayer, you've long known that truth to be self-evident.

 

(c) 2020 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.



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