BRANDON J. WEICHERT | THE WEICHERT REPORT
“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
If you haven’t heard by now, the first attempt to push through President Donald J. Trump’s $1 trillion bailout package to help beleaguered Americans weather the coronavirus storm as the economy shuts down in an attempt to prevent America’s ailing medical system from collapsing due to being overburdened by COVID-19 patients, has failed to pass the United States Senate.
The bill was expected to pass the Senate until the Democrats decided to hold it up at the last minute. Because of this, naturally, the futures market–which had been anticipating a bipartisan bill passing out of the Senate tonight–have tanked, setting up for what will be another subpar day on the market tomorrow. Of course, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky “hopes” the Democrats will come around tomorrow when he has scheduled another vote for the bill. Perhaps they will.
Although, given that this is a tight election year in which the Democrats are about to nominate an honest-to-God senile septuagenarian as their nominee, the Left needs every added push going into November that they can. More failures in the economy and society works in the DNC’s favor in terms of aggravating voters and getting them to vote against President Trump.
Watching the events unfold tonight, I was reminded of those fateful days during the 2008 bailout debates, in which then-Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson and his team would storm the gates of Congress, call out that the economic sky was falling lest the elected leaders of both parties enacted sweeping legislation bailing out the banks, and ultimately having the bill suffer an unceremonious death at the hands of petty partisanship.
And that’s what this is.
According to every source I’ve spoken to or heard, the Republicans spent the last several days negotiating with their Democratic counterparts behind the scenes in good faith.
Everyone assumed we had a deal…until the Democratic leadership waded into the debate again and decided to scuttle the whole thing.
Again, terrifying memories of 2008 come flooding back into the mind, as images of Secretary Paulson threatening the now-deceased Senator John McCain (R-AZ). who had ridden in on his white horse just as the two parties were set to pass a highly unpopular bailout, and demand that everyone rework the legislation with him as the face of it–a pathetic election-year stunt that, I believe, ultimately cost McCain the presidency (Americans were mostly unimpressed by his antics and it allowed for his rival, then-Senator Barack Obama, to continue campaigning mostly unopposed for a period of time).
Another jarring image that flooded my memory banks as the legislation failed to pass was Paulson, after threatening McCain for having blown up the legislation in 2008, chasing after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) into the cloakroom, bending down on one knee, and begging her and the other Democrats not to “blow up” the deal because of a bad meeting with McCain.
We all know how that ended. The industries in question–the big banks–got their bailouts, although it took longer and the markets crashed harder…putting many more Americans out of business and out of work (out of their homes also) than there would have been had the deal gone through (of course, we can quibble about the ethics of a bailout but Trump’s actions in this regard appear to undercut such arguments against bailouts). The longer we waited, the more societal disruptions, economic dislocations, and political instability in the country there was.
Our political system, therefore, exacerbated our socio-economic woes rather than ameliorate them. And it’s happening all over again. I always hated the merry-go-round.
Of course, the Republicans are certainly not blameless in the recent failure of the bailout bill. After all, the Democrats’ arguing that the bailout was basically a giveaway to select big industries, such as the airline companies, while providing workers little protection are mostly correct. We would have given these industries boku tax dollars who then could have shored up their companies by laying off workers–the very last thing the country needs at this point in time. The entire point of the bailout, as the president pitched it to the American people, was to help industries, yes. But, more importantly, it was to help the ordinary American who lives paycheck-to-paycheck. It was initially intended to give the Republicans some cover as we enter into a recession heading toward a depression.
As I have said elsewhere, the Ben Shapiro model of politics–facts don’t care about your feelings–is completely wrong. Facts are important. But candidates who rely only on the cold logic of facts will not win in politics which is as much about heart as it is about the head. In order to win the hearts-and-minds of the American voter, candidates must win hearts first, then minds, in order to win the election. Few Republicans in the modern era have understood this (which is why so often Republicans lose).
If logic and facts dominated the discourse, George H.W. Bush would have handily won reelection in 1992, for example. Of course, he could not. The smooth-talking, “feeling” Bill Clinton pulled the upset victory back then. And like today, there was a pretty serious economic crisis occurring. If facts alone won the debate, though, American voters would have simply compared-and-contrasted George H.W. Bush’s record (on paper, at least) with that of Bill Clinton’s and found the latter seriously wanting in terms of substance and experience. Yet, Clinton won their hearts…and the peoples’ minds soon fell into place behind him over the Republicans.
This pattern has played out repeatedly. It will play out again in November if Trump cannot get his own party to stay in line.
What do I mean by that? Well, we know that Trump wanted essentially equal assistance rendered both to companies as well as workers. Publicly the Republicans cheered on their man in the White House. Behind closed doors, however, they assiduously worked along with their friends in the lobbying sector to ensure that the final bill looked nothing like that which the president wanted. Sure, the Democrats probably wanted to go too far, too fast. But many “True Conservatives” were balking at Trump’s proposed bailout almost from the start.
They had principles…or something.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus spread, no cure had yet to be found, and economy was slowly strangled by a combination of real concern and fear.
In the battle of narratives, the Democrats have an initial deficit: they voted against the bill. That is a matter of record. Yet, the Democrats love to play on the heartstrings. What’s more, as they push out their narrative of having fought for the “little guy” (is that still an acceptable term on the Left?) against those wily, implacable corporatist Republicans, McConnell and the GOP will continue burbling about the industry and the system.
It will all be very logical and it will all ensure that the Republicans lose in November.
And again, the Democrats are not wrong in that the Senate Republicans changed that which Trump wanted to favor big businesses more over their workers. And that’s not what we need.
Earlier today Steve Bannon went on Mornings with Maria on Fox News Channel and argued that, if anything, the bailout package was too small. He said to give the markets $2-to-$3 trillion of liquidity; to flood the zone with bailouts for both Wall Street and Main Street, all while totally locking the country down for at least five weeks until the worst of the disease can pass.
Bannon’s argument, I believe, is mostly correct.
And some variation of this argument will inevitably be enacted. The greater question is one of timing–as always. If we wait much longer, it won’t matter because the entire country will be infected with a pandemic that will kill millions of people with co-morbidities and totally break the medical system.
The social distancing is our only hope at preventing that from happening. Until there is a cure, that is precisely what will be required. And as you’ve seen since the president declared the national emergency and ordered most people to stay at home, many Americans have simply ignored the social distancing program for one reason or another.
This is why I’ve argued that a more stringent quarantine will have to be imposed; the US National Guard will have to start policing the country and enforcing such a quarantine and all travel, work, and social gatherings will have to be called off until a cure is found.
Unless the bailout that Trump envisioned from the start–possibly one that is more radical than what even he wanted–is passed immediately, the American people will suffer. The Republicans did not kill this bill. The Democrats did. But, the Democrats are not wrong to balk at many of the provisions inside the bill.
This is not a time for petty partisanship. Americans are suffering and the country is about to suffer even more the longer our leaders fail us. Both parties need to get together tonight and tomorrow and recognize that only helping industry at the expense of the workers and vice-versa is a sure-fire way to kill the economy, harm many more Americans needlessly, and do little to stop the spread and find a cure for the coronavirus.
This bill’s failure is a pox on both parties. They’re debating philosophy while Americans lose their livelihoods and, potentially, their lives. So long as the Democrats and Republicans look pretty on television, though.
What do they care?
They’ll be tucked away in some bunker somewhere when things get really bad while you and I who end up paying for the Democrats’ dithering and the Republicans rage against the worker. Enough already.
This is not only a health crisis and an economic disaster, but this is also a national security threat the longer our politicians continue doing their whole Macbeth thing. Conservatives and neoliberals wonder why the country’s electorate–mainly Millennials and Zoomers– are embracing either nationalist-populism or socialist-populism as opposed to their preferred ideologies? Well, here’s a case vignette for why the country has radicalized.