The next round of stimulus money will unlikely include any major concessions for Democrats. With this, the party has nobody to blame but Nancy Pelosi.
Astonishingly, that opinion comes from David Dayen, the executive editor of The American Prospect. The said magazine stays “dedicated to liberalism and progressivism.”
In a recent article titled “A Leader Without Leading,” Dayen says during the passage of the last stimulus bill in late April, Pelosi – along with Sen. Chuck Shumer – chose to forego adding their wishlist to the bill, believing they would have another shot. That shot, thus far, has never materialized.
“Republicans wanted more money for forgivable loans for small businesses. Democrats had a host of liberal priorities left out of prior legislation that could have been paired with the extension. But Pelosi and her Senate colleague Chuck Schumer chose to go along with the Republican framework, leaving everything else for later.”
“Immediately afterward, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hit the pause button on future legislation. It felt like the Democrats were played.” said Dayen.
Credits for the Republicans
He also credits the Republicans for knowing exactly what they wanted out of each stimulus bill. The Republicans did so all while Pelosi fumbled away every opportunity.
“When the coronavirus spread and lockdowns buckled the economy, Republicans knew exactly what they wanted—protect large corporations and investors—and pursued it unerringly. Pelosi had no coherent agenda to fall back on. She’d spent the past year advancing complex, multifaceted bills and watching them wither in Mitch McConnell’s legislative graveyard.”
Dayen adds, “H.R. 1, the House’s signature legislation during this Congress, which attempted to nationalize voter registration, establish nonpartisan redistricting commissions, add ethics standards to the Supreme Court, add a voluntary public-financing option for campaigns, require presidents to release tax returns, disclose donors for super PACs, make Election Day a holiday, and about 20 other things in a single bill, is a perfect example of this syndrome. There’s no single narrative to grab onto, just a mélange of advocacy group–approved planks. This left House leadership unprepared as the pandemic began its march.”
Pelosi worked on the earlier stimulus bills. While doing so, she allowed the Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, to craft the CARES Act. Dayen says this meant that Democrats “just got to tweak McConnell’s work, without altering its tilt toward the powerful.”
Pelosi and the HEROES Act
Dayen’s takedown on Pelosi ends with her “pie-in-the-sky” HEROES Act. Somehow, she even managed to make a mess of her own bill.
“Incredibly in the midst of a crisis, was a Pelosi tendency that had grown over the years: obsessive concern with deficits. Pelosi rolled back student debt relief in the HEROES Act after learning that it would cost $100 billion more than expected. This was a $3.2 trillion messaging bill not designed to become law, yet an additional 3 percent cost was considered unacceptable. Pelosi also declined to add “automatic stabilizers” that would maintain expanded benefits until economic stress dissipated, blaming a Congressional Budget Office scoring quirk that made the cost appear artificially larger.”
“So with over 30 million out of work, the important thing to Pelosi was that her pie-in-the-sky, going-nowhere bill was ‘reasonable,’ based on some ineffable standard of reason…”
“Devotion to deficit hawkery in normal times is unwise policy. It’s downright fatal during an economic crisis, where relief could be yanked away from needy families prematurely simply because of an unwillingness to challenge CBO’s scoring model.”
Many expect lawmakers to vote on the next stimulus bill sometime after July 20. If you hear Democrats complaining about how “unfair” the bill is, just remember who is negotiating for their side.