Pelosi’s ‘Rooseveltian’ Relief Package: Will There Be a Bipartisan Agreement?

Since the coronavirus pandemic, our bipartisan Congress has made history with their collective $3 trillion relief package. The debate in Congress is now — “is it enough?” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will soon announce their new relief package that has been described as inspired by the economic response of Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression. Mitch McConnell urges that we should proceed with caution and see what impact the first COVID-19 relief package has on the country. 

Democrats lean on history

On Thursday, May 7, Schumer said that the cautious approach taken by Republicans, like McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), reminded him of former President Hoover’s response to the 1929 stock market crash and the beginning of the Great Depression.

“The people like McConnell and McCarthy and even [President] Trump who say, ‘Let’s wait and do nothing,’ well, they remind me of the old Herbert Hoovers. We had the Great Depression — Hoover said let’s just wait it out. It got worse and worse,” Schumer said.

Hoover famously, and wrongly, predicted a rapid economic recovery in 1930, much as President Trump has done since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the Great Depression lasted until 1939, until Franklin Roosevelt oversaw the largest expansion of the federal government and is credited by many historians with helping to end the Great Depression.

“We’ve got to have the same focus, even a stronger focus on the people — the working people, the average people who are suffering as well. We need the same kind of big, bold, tough action,” he said. “We need action here to help average folks. We’ve done some in the House and Senate, we need to do a lot more.” The democratic party believes the ‘Rooseveltian’ relief plan to be the better course of action in regards to the current economic and health crisis. 

Republicans repeat history? 

“We think we ought to take a pause here, do a good job of evaluating what we’ve already done.” — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republicans urge Congress to wait to see what impact the first coronavirus relief package has on the country, before acting on the Democrat’s ‘Rooseveltian’ relief package. 

“I think I can speak for our conference by saying we’re not ruling that out, but we think we ought to take a pause here, do a good job of evaluating what we’ve already done,” McConnell said earlier this week regarding a potential second relief bill. “There’s been a lot of calls, a lot of conference calls, but there still is concern among folks that we can’t just have a top-down style,” Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, said, according to Politico.

Will there be a bipartisan agreement?

With nearly 3.2 million Americans filing first-time unemployment claims last week, the past seven-week total is brought to a record breaking 33.5 million in unemployment claims, according to the Labor Department. 

Congress has appropriated nearly $500 billion to cushion the Treasury Department-Federal Reserve credit-lending facility with more than $4 trillion in firepower so that financial markets would not crash, but it continues to crash.

After the $2.2 trillion CARES Act was signed into law, including the additional $1 billion towards the elderly and disabled, unemployment benefits were substantially increased by the additional $600-a-week federal bonus to workers’ state unemployment benefits, in some states boosting jobless benefits above the average hourly wage. Some of those minimum wage workers are choosing to not return to work at all. Unemployment checks have matched or come close enough to not have to work at all. This has presented another obstacle entirely for the economy to bounce back.

Democrats say “not enough”

With many Americans still awaiting their stimulus checks and many of those people being of a lower economic class or elderly, Democrats want to take further steps, such as providing hazard pay to essential workers and disbursing hundreds of billions of dollars more to state and local governments to cover salaries for police, firefighters, teachers, and sanitation workers.

Republicans say “enough for now”

The Republican party is growing increasingly concerned about the massive federal spending to combat the economic downturn and are considering ways to limit the impact of future stimulus efforts on the national debt– such as cutting Social Security. This unease among senior Trump advisers about federal spending is the catalyst for any hesitance in additional emergency measures to rescue a U.S. economy facing its worst crisis in generations.

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