Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, having secured his goal of getting more "small business" loan money out of his colleagues in the Senate on Tuesday, immediately threw cold water on a big Phase 4 bill that would fund all the things the country so desperately needs. That gives House Democrats, and particularly Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one valid response: add all the things the country needs into that bill from the Senate and hand it back to him, with a big red bow. He wants his "small business" money? He'll get it if he approves everything else.
Immediately following the bill's Senate passage Tuesday, McConnell pulled out the "deficit" card. "You’ve seen the talk from both sides about acting, but my goal from the beginning of this, given the extraordinary numbers that we’re racking up to the national debt, is that we need to be as cautious as we can be," McConnell told Politico. "We need to see how things are working, see what needs to be corrected, and I do think that the next time we pass a coronavirus rescue bill we need to have everyone here and everyone engaged." That's after May 4. He intends not to act sooner and he intends to drag the entire U.S. Senate back to Washington, whether it's safe for them or not.
He went further with the austerity bullshit talk on Wednesday in an interview with his favorite fellow nihilist, Hugh Hewitt. Rather than the big rescue fund for states and local governments that even Trump has acknowledged is necessary, McConnell says the states should just go bankrupt. "I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route. […] It's saved some cities, and there's no good reason for it not to be available." He was egged on by Hewitt, who said that blue states—California, Illinois, and Connecticut—had given too much to public employee unions. "My guess is their first choice would be for the federal government to borrow money from future generations to send it down to them now so they don't have to do that," McConnell said. "That's not something I'm going to be in favor of."
"You raised yourself the important issue of what states have done, many of them have done to themselves with their pension programs," McConnell continued. "There's not going to be any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations." Well, here's a hearty fuck you, McConnell, from all the blue states that have been paying Kentucky's goddamned bills. Kentucky is the fifth most dependent state in the country; only four other states take more federal money. Connecticut is number 37; California is number 39; and Illinois is number 46.
Oh, and by the way—I'm old enough to remember when Republicans were against letting Puerto Rico resolve its debt crisis by declaring bankruptcy because "Republican lawmakers suspect that if Puerto Rico were to get the tools to legally impair its general-obligation debt, it would not be long before fiscally troubled states, like Illinois, came calling for the same thing." So, again, a resounding fuck you to McConnell on that one.
The House is scheduled to take up the Senate bill Thursday, and while there are some good things in it, there's not enough. Not if McConnells' going to be taking the next bill hostage. Not if he's saying right now he won't let states and cities and counties be left to their own devices.
The House needs to amend this bill. Turn it into the CARES 2 bill McConnell's now throwing cold water on. Add in the money for states and localities. Save the Postal Service. Require vote-by-mail for November. A rent and mortgage payment moratorium for at least three months. Student loans and credit card debt, too. $2,000 checks for everyone and $500 for their kids for the duration of the crisis. Goddamned coronavirus tests for every state, and PPE for every front-line worker who has been deemed essential. And tell McConnell if he wants his "small business" loans, this is how he does it.