Pelosi candidly acknowledged that the House did not get everything it wanted. She still wants to expand eligibility for paid family leave, enhance workplace safety protections, add money for food stamps (which Republicans, who apparently think people will fake hunger, insisted on whittling down in the most recent package), stabilize pensions, pay for covid-19 treatment (not just testing) and correct the “discrimination” against the District, which received less money than it would as a state. (Do Republicans living and working in the District not realize they may be hurting themselves?)
Much of Pelosi’s news conference focused on money for state and local governments. While the package designated $150 billion for this purpose, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, among others, has said that is a drop in the bucket, given not only New York’s soaring costs but also the lack of revenue due to the economic shutdown necessitated by isolation and social distancing. Pelosi remarked that she had "the benefit of the governor’s thinking yesterday.” She added that “several billions” was more than a drop in the bucket, but she was not there to pick a fight with Cuomo, for whom she had high praise.
Pelosi did point out that the bill’s language allows for the Federal Reserve to extend “low or no interest” loans when interest rates are as low as they will ever be, something that certainly would help in the short run. But she readily agreed that more money would be needed as we move from the “mitigation” stage to the “recovery" stage. For good measure, she added, the $2 trillion bill has “about the cost of the tax scam the Republicans foisted on the nation.” She added that this situation is a “challenge to the conscience as well as the budget.”
The good news is that public sentiment, which she referenced will be key, plainly is on the side of spending more money. The latest Post-ABC News poll finds that 1 in 3 Americans say "they or an immediate family member have been laid off, while about half report a cut in work hours or pay for someone in their family. Among those who haven’t suffered such setbacks, at least half are concerned that they will occur.” A remarkable 9 in 10 think there is a recession coming, leading 86 percent to favor the direct payments to individuals ($1,200 in the current bill), and 9 in 10 to favor help for small business.
As long as money is not going to big corporations, the public will be in favor of spending what it needs to ensure that services, income and benefits are maintained. And fortunately for Pelosi, this may be the one time when she gets more flak for spending too little than spending too much.