Hypocrisy is never pretty. In May, Democrats were giddy, ready to sucker-punch Trump. They had him. Knowing American workers needed job protection and unemployment benefits, that small employers needed payroll protection, COVID liability waivers, and payroll tax deferrals, and that airlines needed cash to avoid fall furloughs, Pelosi took $500 billion in needs – and bumped it to $3 trillion. She then passed her mega-bill and pushed the Senate and President.
It was all a ploy. Every member in both parties knew this socialist spending bill had no chance in the Senate, let alone with Trump. It was a political tool, letting far left Democrats run on socialism, and moderate Democrats run on needed aid – arguing Republicans did not care.
Cynical, yes – but Pelosi’s plan was to force the Republican Senate and Trump to accept her $3 trillion bill or say “no,” allowing Democrats to run their “no.” Of course, Republicans said “no,” calling her $3 trillion abomination “absurd.”
What she did not bank on was Trump and Senate Republicans standing firm, the President explaining her cynical ploy to Americans, and then issuing “Executive Orders” (EO’s) and presidential memoranda to get the job done.
One continued federal unemployment benefits at $300 per week, down from $600 which disincentivized work, as Democrats prepared to let them lapse. That Trump memo aimed “to quickly provide billions of dollars in relief to supplement unemployment benefits and help businesses keep their workers employed, in addition to zeroing Federal student loan interest and delaying Tax Day.” See, https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/memorandum-authorizing-needs-assistance-program-major-disaster-declarations-related-coronavirus-disease-2019/.
A second act allowed “employers to suspend collection of some Social Security taxes” through end of 2020, no adverse effects on retirement benefits. A third set of actions reduced healthcare costs, helping seniors. See, https://nfc.usda.gov/ClientServices/HR_Payroll/Customer_Notifications/2020/General/082120-OASDI.pdf; https://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/trump-administration-deferral-social-security-tax-72695059.
Importantly for America’s seniors, the President signed big EO’s all summer. They added to earlier Trump efforts. In 2017, Trump ended Obamacare’s “individual mandate penalty,” and restored “Choice and Competition” with EO 13813. That saved Americans millions in jacked-up premiums for less care. Trump expanded employer reimbursements, added small business access, health savings accounts, and chronic condition coverage.
Rejecting Pelosi’s “poison pill,” Trump worked to address COVID all summer. In EO 13941 – “Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access” – he expanded access, then pushed “State Relief and Empowerment Waivers” to allow states flexibility to cut costs. That built on savings from more “generic drug approvals,” which reportedly saved consumers $26 billion. See, https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-america-first-healthcare-plan/.
In EO 13937 – “Access to Affordable Life-Saving Medications” – Trump gave low income Americans access to insulin and injectable epinephrine at record low prices. In EO 13938 – “Increasing Drug Importation to Lower Prices for American Patients” – Trump allowed safe import of low-cost Canadian drugs.
In EO 13939 – “Lowering Prices for Patients by Eliminating Kickbacks to Middlemen” – Trump eliminated middleman gouging, assuring drug discounts get passed to patients at pharmacy counters – without increased premiums or taxes. Finally, in EO 13948 – “Lowering Drug Prices by Putting America First” – Trump assured Medicare patients get the lowest prices, by pegging them to comparable foreign prices.
The President did not stop there. On September 24, he issued the “America First Healthcare Plan.” That EO further slashes healthcare costs. In a litany of new and consolidated actions, he pushed costs lower – so average Americans are not disadvantaged by Congressional inaction.
These executive actions – creating life-saving options for struggling individuals, often older Americans – occurred without congressional action. Not just compassionate, they were vital. The irony is extreme – as a Democrat Speaker continues to stop relief, claiming she cannot pass a “skinny” $500 billion bill. No Congress in US history would call that bill “skinny.”
The Republican’s $500 billion bill would save businesses – and jobs. That would include COVID liability waivers, preventing trial lawyers from crippling small businesses, as well as $257 billion for Payroll Protection Plans, $105 billion for schools, more for COVID-related needs, including aid for airlines. That is not enough. Pelosi prefers to blame Republicans for not doing more – by doing nothing.
Now comes the “cherry on top.” Pelosi is now telling airline workers, who happen to live in “swing states,” she will help. She is asking they suck it up, not furlough tens of thousands, as she is with them. Really? Airlines are devasted, and she plays her “socialism-or-bust” game.
Let us be clear: Speaker Pelosi is on Speaker Pelosi’s side – not the side of airline workers. She prevailed on Senate Democrats to defeat the Republican alternative, blocking cloture in September – not allowing Senate leaders to secure the 60 votes needed to move a rescue bill.
For airline workers? Hardly. She is for what will defeat Trump – Russia collusion, Ukraine confusion, impeachment, fanning riots, defunding police, stopping nominees, blocking aid to Americans, holding up relief. She has spun a story, getting media to run headlines like “Mass Airline Layoffs in Swing States Would Further Imperil Trump,” imagining she will profit from their anguish, blaming Trump – as she encourages voters to for riots in Democrat cities. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-29/election-2020-mass-airline-layoffs-in-swing-states-would-further-imperil-trump; https://www.thestreet.com/mishtalk/economics/mass-airline-layoffs-on-deck-and-they-will-hurt-trump.
The irony is acute, and cynicism profound. Still, silver linings peek from that dark cloud over airline workers – and America. First, Trump is working on executive action to give relief. Second, “swing states” are like saloon doors – they swing both ways. If Democrats are understood to be holding airline workers – and others – hostage for socialist goals, swing voters in those swing states could swing to Trump.
Third, playing politics with people’s lives is unconscionable; the longer Pelosi’s gamble continues, the more obvious and indefensible it becomes. Finally, the witching hour is here, since the long-awaited election, furloughs, and need for action converge. Trump has used his executive powers, but Congress must now act. Americans get it. Who is Pelosi kidding?