Op-Ed “The Accountability Complex” Congress Fails Again
As unemployment extensions expired over a week ago, we once again saw a failure from Congress to act when the country is in desperation. After a week of no promising negotiations…the President surprisingly used multiple executive orders to continue and modify some of the benefits. The unemployment “kicker” was lowered from $600 to $400, but Trump included a new catch. He has demanded that states pay $100 dollars of the new extension. Already dealing with burgeoning debts from the pandemic, Trump is shifting even more financial burdens on the states.
One of the issues Senate Republicans have been held up on is including a financial package for states and cities. Many state constitutions actually forbid spending to go over a proposed budget. States are drowning in financial obligations due to pandemic, while also losing crucial revenues from lower revenues in payroll and sales taxes. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is not concerned. He has stated on numerous occasions that he believes the states should declare bankruptcy. Thus the underlying stance of the Senate Republicans more or less silent echoing McConnell’s physical quotes.
Congressional Democrats are in a tough position. I understand the moral dilemmas they are universally standing behind when approaching this new bill. Unfortunately, time is ticking…it has been over a week since provisions expired. Additionally, Democrats are slowly losing leverage as the President is deciding to take matters into this own hands. If Democrats hang onto this for too long, it could come back to hurt them in the election. The Coronavirus response has continued to decline since the spring, and Trump had seen some of his weakest polling numbers in months. Not that I am in favor of using Americans money as political moves, but if Democrats really wanted to position themselves for the election…they would have let Republicans take the helms of this bill unchecked. Let the Republicans lower the unemployment stimulus to only $200, and let them continue to dig their own graves through November.
But aside from the political strategy, this entire situation is a spectacular failure from our elected officials. Literally, in the hight of a pandemic, our Congressional officials failed to compromise before a foreseeable deadline. In defense of Democrats, they did introduce their proposed bill earlier in the summer. Republicans introduced their plan merely a week or so before the expiration. The fact that we are in August and no deal was reached is incredible…especially given the circumstances.
Over 330 million Americans waiting on the verdict of these negotiations, and Congress still had the ability to let us down. It is amazing how often this happens with budget talks…almost on an annual basis. I hope for the first time, the American people finally hold these Congressional officials accountable.