Americans ought to get another round of direct relief payments from the federal government.
It’s good policy. It’s good politics. Americans deserve it. Our small businesses need it. The chairman of the Federal Reserve is telling us we should do it, and — against the wishes of some in his own party — the president supports it. So why aren’t you getting a check? Why isn’t it in the mail already?
In politics — especially Washington politics involving big money — the answers are often complicated and convoluted. When it comes to these stimulus checks, however, it’s very, very simple: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding them hostage.
Despite weeks of negotiations, despite the demonstrated commitment of the White House to getting this done as quickly as possible, Pelosi refuses to put forward a “skinny bill” that funds another round of checks without any strings attached. She wants the whole thing to be conditioned on more than a trillion dollars of unrelated spending — most which would go to blue-state governors who have dug themselves into a fiscal hole and driven their residents out with ever higher taxes and ever greater restrictions on their freedom. Pelosi and other partisan Democrats are upset, you see, that under President Trump’s tax code, reduced state and local tax deductions mean low-tax red states no longer subsidize rich people living in New York and California.
“OK,” you might say, “but why won’t Republicans just compromise and give the Democrats the bailout they want in order to get my check in the mail?”
Unfortunately, Pelosi doesn’t actually want to reach a compromise. That’s why the House Democrats loaded their $2.2 trillion “HEROES Act” with enough poison pills to ensure that the Republican Senate couldn’t even consider it and that the president would be insane to sign it.
The Democrats’ bill includes millions of dollars for getting juvenile offenders out of custody, money to expand banking options for marijuana businesses, and millions more to establish local databases to track “hate crimes.”
None of this has anything whatsoever to do with the coronavirus pandemic, but other elements of the bill that actually do are even more egregiously partisan. One set of provisions amounts to a federal nullification of every voter ID law in the country. Depending on how one interprets the bill’s wording, it may also introduce California-style “ballot harvesting” nationwide. Under the pretense of protecting people from coronavirus, the Democrats are making relief checks contingent on last-minute changes to voting rules that they believe will help them win in November.
This has nothing to do with stimulus or relief — it’s politics, pure and simple. Nancy Pelosi insisted on passing a bill that she knew full well had no chance of becoming law for the sole purpose of blaming the president for the absence of relief checks.
You could have your check tomorrow if Democrats had sent the president a standalone bill funding the $1,200 checks that both sides claim to support. President Trump reiterated on Wednesday that he would eagerly sign such a bill. The only reason there’s no check in your mailbox already is that Nancy Pelosi thought it was more important to score a political victory than to help Americans in our time of need.
Madison Gesiotto is an Ohio attorney, former Miss Ohio USA and an opinion contributor for The Hill.