10.09.2020 2

Pelosi Punishes Blue States by Failing to Act on Covid Relief

By Robert Romano

It has been more than six months since the COVID-19 state-led lockdowns began, and although 14.1 million out of 25 million jobs lost have been recovered since labor markets bottomed in April, several federal programs that were created or expanded in the CARES Act are beginning to expire or already have.

The small business forgivable loan program, the paycheck protection program, which directed $525 billion to 5.2 million small businesses, supporting up to 50 million jobs, expired on Aug. 8.

Funding for critical industries including airlines just ran out at the end of September.

And for those who lost their jobs in March, regular unemployment benefits have already run out and pandemic unemployment assistance will run out by December.

All the more inexplicable is both the House and Senate agree in principle on extending all those provisions to a certain extent, as well as sending more checks to the American people in the way of tax credits. Both have bills that do just that.

The difference is the House bill, goes much, much further. It originally had a $3.3 trillion price tag. That was knocked down to $2 trillion.

The Senate bill, the HEALS Act, gets all that done at $1 trillion: it extends unemployment, it sends the checks, it extends small business relief and it takes care of the airlines.

Why not just pass the Senate bill and leave the rest to the election for the American people to decide? It’s inexplicable. All they need to do is extend a few of these critical programs to keep momentum in the recovery as the economy gets back on its feet.

We’re not out of the woods yet.

In fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) refusal to, in the least, move on those items where there is already agreement is punishing her own constituents.

As of August, 7.6 million additional Americans were unemployed compared to 2019 as a result of the state-led Covid lockdowns. 5.1 million of whom live in states with Democratic governors. Meaning, two-thirds of the jobs left to still be recovered are in Blue States.

In the household survey published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 879,000 Americans left the labor force in September and in the past two weeks, another 1.8 million Americans have come off unemployment as benefits ran out.

Still, President Donald Trump sounded hopeful that something could come together, telling Fox Business’ Maria Baritromo, “Well I shut down talks two days ago because they weren’t working out. Now they are starting to work out, we’re starting to have some very productive talks.”

Pelosi should hope the talks are productive. No President has flipped the House in running for a second term since 1948, when Harry Truman did it after taking over for the late Franklin Roosevelt in 1945.

But Trump could be in a position to do it again, with only 21 seats to gain for Republicans to regain a majority.

If the American people get wind of the fact that all of the most important items needed for the struggling economy are already agreed to, but Pelosi is the one holding it up, those House seats could suddenly come under significant pressure to make a deal.

Perhaps House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) should begin circulating a discharge position for the HEALS Act. Pelosi is holding the labor market recovery hostage.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

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