GOP in disarray as members revolt over COVID-19 response as 2020 election looms: report
According to a report from the Washington Post, the Republican leadership is battling with some members of the caucus over another financial package designed to help Americans through the coronavirus pandemic.
On one side are senior Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who want to hold off on any more large stimulus packages that can help keep the economy afloat, and on the other side are senators who want more money for their desperate constituents.
According to the Post, “The economic havoc wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic is opening up a rift in the Republican Party — as the Trump administration and some GOP senators advocate for more aggressive spending while senior party leaders say now may be the time to start scaling back.”
“In rapid fashion, Congress approved nearly $3 trillion in fresh federal spending to combat the public health and economic damage from the coronavirus since its dangers came into sharper focus earlier this year. Yet a new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office this week depicted a painful economic outlook with soaring jobless rates and widening federal deficits — triggering a fierce debate in Congress about what should come in the next tranche of virus-related legislation,” the report continues. “But the coming battle over spending is not solely partisan. It is also stirring a debate among Republicans about how substantial the package should be and whether concerns about debt are misplaced at a time of economic crisis, when the government continues to be able to borrow at rock-bottom prices.”
Adding, “GOP leaders now find themselves struggling with how to balance the need to prop up the struggling economy ahead of the fall’s elections with concerns that too much spending could hurt them with their base of voters,” the Post notes, “Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.), a rising star in the national party, is promoting an ambitious plan that would require the federal government to shoulder 80 percent of U.S. employees’ wages up to the national median wage. His proposal also calls for the government to offer bonuses for employers to rehire those who have been recently laid off.”
According to Michael Steel who served as a top aide to then-House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH), the Republican Party, long opposed to spending and deficits, is in a bind.
“Concerns about federal deficits and debts are being swamped by the scale of the crisis right now, but when our economy rebounds, they will return as a serious issue for voters,” explained Steel. “As we saw after 2008 and 2009, paroxysms of federal spending tend to spawn ferocious blowback.”
Reinforcing the point, Hawley stated, “If we find ourselves in a long-term depression, you know, you talk about out-of-control spending, that will happen. So my point is right now, we have an acute crisis. Let’s address that crisis as quickly as we can and try to get out of it as quickly as we can and to me that’s all about jobs.”
McConnell himself is also at the center of the battle after proposing states simply file bankruptcy instead of depending on a federal bailout, with the Post reporting, “McConnell’s remarks prompted an angry backlash from both Republican and Democratic governors seeking a substantial infusion of federal aid who dismissed the argument that they had mismanaged their state’s finances.”
“My initial thought honestly was, I didn’t agree with that approach,” explained Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), with the Post reporting she warned of the ‘devastating impact’ if states and local governments were forced into mass layoffs.”
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