Pelosi outlined in broad strokes her proposal for the next stimulus package, including money for state and local government (which, she explained, is really for our “heroes” — firefighters, police and health-care workers); money and a strategy for testing (including a corps to go into diverse communities to track those in contact with people who have tested positive); and “money in the pockets of the American people,” which includes more money for food stamps and extended unemployment. She favors “stabilizers” in the bill that automatically adjust as unemployment rises.
Along the way, she slammed President Trump for seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the middle of a pandemic, burying a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report with detailed guidance for reopening the economy, praising protesters who showed up with swastikas in Michigan, seeking to privatize the Postal Service (which Americans overwhelmingly view positively and is needed as we expand voting-by-mail) and contradicting a nurse at an Oval Office visit who made clear that availability of personal protective equipment is “sporadic.”
Asked about the cost, Pelosi mentioned the $2 trillion in debt that Republicans took on as part of their tax cuts for the rich and for big corporations. She cited Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell for the proposition that Congress has to “think big” in its response to the pandemic.
One could not help but think: What is the possible argument against what Pelosi is proposing — that we shouldn’t reopen safely? That we should stiff police, firefighters and other public employees who have risked their lives to keep us safe? That we shouldn’t follow data? The Republican aversion to intelligent governance and to deployment of science to save lives is, frankly, untenable politically. And Pelosi knows it.
The public overwhelmingly favors the things Democrats are advocating (a slow and safe return to economic activity, a bigger role for the federal government in testing, more and not less government). Trump, his acolytes and the right-wing noise machine can defy public opinion, but they do so at their extreme political peril. Moreover, to the extent they “win” by not funding police and firefighters or recklessly pushing to reopen the economy without testing, the results are likely to be disastrous.
As Pelosi put it in reference to funding the front-line public workers, “Those of us with a responsibility for this have no right to praise them and then ignore their needs.” The same might be said for the country as a whole. The public simply is not going to be mollified by Trump’s empty words and Republicans’ pandemic denial.