Can the House Democrats drive a hard bargain on CARES 2?
Michael Grunwald argues in Politico that House Democrats have a lot of bargaining power in negotiations over the next coronavirus relief bill, but that they are not aggressively using their leverage. He suggests that Democrats are holding back because they are worried about being labeled obstructionist and getting blamed if legislation does not pass.
I agree with some of his analysis and have doubts about other parts. But here I want to make a suggestion for getting an aggressive but narrowly-tailored bill through Congress.
Suppose that House Democrats quickly put together a new Democratic CARES 2 bill that aggressively attacks the epidemic. The CARES 2 bill should include more aid for small business, funding for state and local governments, hospitals, transit agencies, the Post Office, etc. It should extend the unemployment insurance provisions until the unemployment rate falls below, say, 5%. It should impose stricter oversight on the Trump administration. It should repeal the tax cut for real estate developers that was included in the first CARES act. It should include tens of billions in funding to increase testing capacity and to make masks widely available. It should include reforms to ensure that the 2020 election is fair, such as national vote-by-mail. The bill can and should be aggressive, but it must be narrowly-tailored to fighting the epidemic. No Christmas-tree stuff that makes it look like the Democrats are exploiting the crisis for narrow partisan purposes.
Because this would be a Democratic bill, it cannot pass the House by unanimous consent. So suppose House Democrats come back to Washington and pass the bill. They would be risking their lives to do right by the American people. Seeing the older – and even elderly – House Democratic leadership wearing face masks as they take an emergency vote would be inspiring to many Americans. And then the House Democrats should go home to be safe. It would be up to the Senate to take or leave the Democrats offer. If Republican Senators whine about this or that provision, the Democrats can say there will be time to fix it later, but that right now what is needed is for the Senate to come back into session and pass the House bill. The Democrats’ courage in returning to Washington would make it difficult for Republicans to blame them for obstruction, and, as Grunwald says, Trump and the Republicans need a bill just as much as Democrats do.
As with so many issues that supposedly are core to Democratic Party priorities the question isn’t just CAN they but WILL they actually do anything? My guess is the answer will be not really or only ineffectively. Which is why the label of “paid loyal opposition” applies so well. These days way too many Democrats are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the same corporate interests that own the entire Republican Party (look no further than the ACA or Joe Biden for that matter) so BIG surprise the Democrats “fail” with any significant legislative agenda that might actually change the status quo, even when they have a majority. They’re paid to LOOK like they’re fundamentally different than Republicans. . . well to be fair the Democrats ARE different than the current freakishly extremist anti-government Republicans. . . but the Democratic Party leadership these days reflects the priorities of the “old school” Republican Party from the days of Nelson Rockefeller. Which is to say irregularly centrist on social issues but solidly conservative on economic, foreign relations, and military issues.
Anybody that uses the ACA as a example of Democrats being “wholly-owned subsidiaries of the same corporate interests that own the entire Republican Party” has no knowledge of the difficulties faced in passing the ACA.
Waste of time, and quite frankly the “progressive” attacks on the ACA during the entire process resulted in the Dem losses in 2010. They got the best deal on the ACA they could possibly have gotten, just like they got the best deal on the ARRA they could possibly have gotten.
Legislation is hard, particularly with the filibuster and the actions of the GOP when a black man became President.
Uh, why do they need a 2nd “care” bill. How many more kinda of political stunts do you want? Why wasn’t it done in March?
By the way, you obsession with unemployment claims is silly. Waste of money. Simply nationalize investment. If not, shrug. You still don’ t get it and won’t.
There never has been a “black man” as President.
Each one worse than the other.
Nice trifecta you got there.
Reality is tough thing for you to handle. Each sentence had a truism you can’t handle. Lift your fists in rage.
Republicans should have no objection as Trump will disregard anything he doesn’t approve of.
I agree entirely with this excellent post.
One thing is that I think regular order is not strictly needed. the bill can be written on Slack or something (people exchanging drafts without physically meeting and catching Covid 19). Formally, it is introduced debated and then voted. The debate can be limited to 5 seconds a side. A whole lot of the risk of death is related to norms not Constitutional limits. An authentic on the web debate is an OK substitute for in person debate, because debate is not formally required and so the substance (discussing it) not the form (in the House chamber) is what matters (also politically)
Republicans need a bill more than Democrats do. They will be held responsible for bad outcomes. There was a clear asymmetry in 2009 with Republicans gaining politically from obstruction. The current situation is similar with the roles reversed, but Democrats are not at all like Repblicans.
Here I think the strength of the Republicans is based on their ruthlessness and lack of public spirit. To have no bill will cause huge suffering. Democrats care about the public interest. McConnell doesn’t so he can (and will) hold the country hostage (again).
But a bill which is just sitting there places the Democrats in a strong position. Importantly, even if the Senate passes another bill, Democrats don’t have a constitutional obligation to participate in a conference committee. The Senate can pass GOP Senate bill 1, then after passing it, pass the House bill. So the position — we’ve passed a bill and we are not coming back to DC is sustainable.
i think it could work and must be tried. Brilliant post.
My fists are lifted in rage when I read your supposed “truisms” that are totally false.