Help me Understand Stimulus, Please
October 13, 2020 7:29 PM   Subscribe

Hi AskMe, I normally wouldn't post a political question because I'd probably just end up depressed, but I happened to watch this interview, and am trying to figure out where I stand on it. I'd appreciate some information and perspectives. I'm very much anti-Trump and support getting as much stimulus as possible, but am still troubled by this.

My mom has a business which is running through its PPP loan soon, and there is serious concern over what will happen both to her and to the business if more money doesn't come in soon. I'm therefore in favor of any proposal which will allow us to get a second loan, and it's a little hard for me not to see what's happening now as foot-dragging while the country goes to hell, or further down, if you like. I found the SPeaker's message frustrating, repetitive, and almost arrogant in its distance from what I see as the concerns of many real people, and I believe that the interviewer was trying to call her on this.

My understanding of the situation is as follows.

The House passed a bill a couple of months ago which proposed spending X, a fairly large amount of money, on a comprehensive stimulus package.

The process is currently stalled in the senate, for the most part, where the house proposal is very much a non-starter. The Republican majority controls the senate, sets the schedule, and determines what gets a vote, generally speaking.

The President and his cabinet haven't provided any clarity on anything, particularly in the past week or so. Negotiations were on, then they weren't, then they were back on again in modified form, and so on.

This is oversimplified, of course, and probably wrong in many particulars.

I'd just appreciate any help in squaring the circle a bit. I want to see my mom and other business owners get help. Why is the Speaker pushing talking points so much instead of listening to what people are actually worried about?

Any perspectives or information on how to sort through this mess would be very much appreciated.
posted by Alensin to Law & Government (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The short answer is that Nancy needs to hold Trump's feet to the fire, because this stimulus bill may be the last. If Biden wins, Republicans will likely do what they did to Obama and block any further stimulus.

Moreover, the last stimulus bill was a compromise with the understanding that Democrats would ask for and receive more stimulus this go around. Trump's not making negotiations easy either, vacillating between walking away from talks altogether to proposing even more stimulus than Democrats are asking for, to walking away again. If Democrats don't get a large bill passed the economy will likely languish generally in a recession for long time.
posted by xammerboy at 7:49 PM on October 13 [3 favorites]

the person to ask here is mitch mcconnell, not pelosi. she's done her job. trump would probably sign whatever, depending on the day
posted by lescour at 7:53 PM on October 13 [12 favorites]

Time and time again, the Democrats seek compromise, only to run into a brick wall. The house passed a stimulus bill. Months ago. The senate’s job is to vote on that bill, and if it fails, negotiate a new bill.

Instead, Mitch just sits on his hands because he knows doing nothing causes anxiety, and that anxious people will get mad at the people who actually took action before they notice that he hasn’t done anything himself.

They do this constantly.

Democrats pass a watered down republican-written health care bill, and then the GOP spends a decade calling it a socialist nightmare. Democrats nominate a moderate justice for the Supreme Court, and Mitch blocks it for most of a year “because a presidential election is coming”, then rams through a massively conservative nominee less than a month before the next one.

If it’s stimulus or any other topic, essentially you do what Mitch wants, or he’ll make sure nothing happens at all. And sometimes, he’ll make sure nothing happens anyway, because he cares more about denying the Democrats “good press” than he does about helping your mom.

Bottom line: voters need to wise up and hold the do-nothing party accountable for their actions. Call your senators offices and them know that if no stimulus passes, you’ll be voting against them. The house did their job.

Sorry for the rant: my mother is medically fragile, and I suspect that a few weeks after the election, the affordable care act will be dismantled. The GOP has spent a full decade working to rip health care away from people, and straight-up lying about plans to replace it.

If it costs billionaires’ taxes, they’d prefer to just look the other way and let people die. It makes me really angry.

The stimulus deal is just yet another time they have used this tactic to hurt people.
posted by FallibleHuman at 8:13 PM on October 13 [22 favorites]

You'd get a better understanding of the dynamics at play by watching Blitzer talk over Pelosi for thirteen minutes than for two.
posted by flabdablet at 8:26 PM on October 13 [2 favorites]

At this point, I doubt Pelosi wants a stimulus bill to make significant progress before election day. If it did, Trump would claim it as a victory, and that's what the news cycle would be at a crucial time. If Pelosi seems somewhat blasé about passing a bill in the interview, that might be part of why.
posted by Beardman at 8:31 PM on October 13 [1 favorite]

Basically what's going on here is that Pelosi is standing facing a burning house with the nozzle in her hand, McConnell is circling the hydrant with a shotgun to stop anybody from hooking up the hose, and Blitzer is giving her endless shit for failing to put out the fire.
posted by flabdablet at 8:33 PM on October 13 [16 favorites]

Actually it's worse than that. What Blitzer is actually giving Pelosi endless shit for is more like failing to endorse a plan to set fire to the hose as well, on a promise that two old dudes and a bucket will be here in maybe two weeks, we'll have to see what happens.
posted by flabdablet at 9:52 PM on October 13 [5 favorites]

Your synopsis is essentially correct. The House has essentially passed two bills, one for 3 trillion, and in Sept an amended version for 2.2 trillion. McConnell has refused to consider either of them, partly because other Senate Republicans have made it clear that they will not support it, and partly because Trump will not clarify what his conditions are for signing a stimulus bill. And partly because he's an asshole.

The press - including Blitzer - have been buzzing about the latest idea offered from the White House (via Mnuchin) of a 1.8 trillion plan. So in a fit of "both-sides-ism", they are questioning why Pelosi won't consider this offer. But Pelosi has made it very very clear that this 1.8 trillion is more a made up number, and that she has not seen and/or does not agree with the details of this offer. And the details matter. Yes, more and more people are more and more desperate, but a shitty deal is a shitty deal and should not be taken.

Why is the Speaker pushing talking points so much instead of listening to what people are actually worried about?

IOW, the "pushing talking points" idea is bullshit, itself a Republican talking point that has been picked up by the mainstream media in order to seem "balanced." Don't get suckered by this.

I don't doubt that there is an element of politics here so close to the election - the more the Dems can (correctly and truthfully) tie inaction on a relief bill to Trump & Senate Republicans, the more likely it is that more people will vote against them. If Biden wins and the Dems take the Senate, then LOTS of relief is coming in January, and if it so happens that Trump and the Senate have a momentary spasm of conscience and put forward a crappy relief bill between Nov & Jan, then Pelosi can take it knowing that more is on the way.

If Trump wins and the Senate stays Republican, she'll probably reluctantly take whatever's offered. If Biden wins but the Senate is still controlled by Republicans then I suspect she'll be more willing to compromise also. But caving in to a shitty deal mere weeks before the real possibility of gaining the power to create a good deal is not a good idea.

It would very much be worth it for your mom to look into what sort of additional relief may be offered by her state government.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:10 AM on October 14 [12 favorites]

The right is drenched in the culture war to an extent the left can't really conceive of. There's been decades, generations of propaganda saying that Everything They Believe in and God's Truths have been under literal assault by the left. The left largely believes in equality, lifting up the people with the least.

This is utterly incompatible with the rights largely God's Chosen beliefs. Poor? God's will. Rich? God has blessed you so we have to support you. Trying to vote rich white people out of power? Terrorism!!!!

Your mom isn't a citizen of the same country, doing her best and needing help due to pandemic. She's either in the cult, God's Army, and will vote for rich white people no matter what, or the enemy. It doesn't matter how many of the enemy die.

I used to think this was all rhetoric, hyperbole, Fox news bullshit. I wanted to believe there was sanity. I hoped it was all posturing. But I don't any more. I think the right genuinely, truly, deeply believes that they are in a war. A war for survival against forces utterly alien to them, and who must be crushed at all costs, before we destroy The Good People. Even typing this, I fear I sound insane. But reality is insane and looking at the right not as citizens of the same country with similar goals, but a type of simmering cold war makes sense. They constantly tell us it's war, after all.

Believe them. It's war.

So your mom? The enemy. Negotiating with the other side? Treason. Everything Trumpism? Necessary costs of war. They aren't maniacs, they are war heroes.

And people like Clinton and Pelosi and RBG are pressured constantly to put out fires caused by the right, while the right poisons wells and changes firemen to book burning duties. flabdablet has it right. Republicanism isn't about government any more. It's about using power to get more power to oppress more people. And as the oppressed get restless, they need more power, in an endless spiral. Anything to win the war.
posted by Jacen at 7:05 AM on October 14 [3 favorites]

[Gentle nudge here to please keep focus on the question about what's going on with stimulus negotiations specifically.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:18 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]

I think you have as good an understanding of the process as many of the professionals, unfortunately.

It does make more sense if you stop assuming that either party is particularly interested in the immediate health and welfare of its voters.
posted by kingdead at 8:30 AM on October 14

Thank you all for the perspective. It does clarify things. I will try to get mom to look for other ways to help the business short of the government, but it's a bit of an uphill battle.
posted by Alensin at 10:02 AM on October 14

If you wanted to post a question about your mum's small business type specifically, I know I'm in touch with a lot of small business owners right now (I work in a small business, fitness) and we're all sharing ideas. You might get some for your mum's.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:14 AM on October 14

Why is the Speaker pushing talking points so much instead of listening to what people are actually worried about?

The simple answer is because the Republican proposal does not address what people are actually worried about. That's it. So you are echoing the Republican talking points, when it is the Republicans that ignoring people's concerns.

There are only two big pieces of the Republican proposal. The first is the elimination of all legal liability for corporations that endanger the health of their employees by disregarding covid protections.

The second piece is a repeat of the $1,200 check to every family in the U.S. This doesn't direct money to those who need it most, the unemployed. It is just a gift to the well off with Trump's name on every check as an federally financed Trump advertisement.

So again, Pelosi is listening to what people are actually worried about. It is a Republican talking point, that Blitzer is repeating, to say that Pelosi is not listening.
posted by JackFlash at 11:44 AM on October 14 [3 favorites]

Tweet today with article link from Greg Sargent of the Washington Post: "This is a huge tell. A GOP strategist tells Bloomberg that Senate Republicans don't want a big stimulus bill now because they want to pivot hard to austerity under a Biden presidency, which could cripple it."
posted by soundguy99 at 3:15 PM on October 14 [1 favorite]

Yes, more and more people are more and more desperate, but a shitty deal is a shitty deal and should not be taken

...and one impressively big sounding number is not a deal, not even when broadcast on high rotation via every available media platform.
posted by flabdablet at 5:59 PM on October 15

I have seen some news articles that specifically mention Speaker Pelosi calling out a difference between "may" and "shall" and a slush fund for the White House. The news stories haven't been explicit about the differences (ARGH!), but I interpret that to mean that the White House is offering language that says money allocated for testing "may" be used for testing, rather than "shall" be used for testing, and of course if Congress passes a bill with a ton of money that "may" be used for testing, you can bet your right arm the White House will try to redirect it to building the effing wall.

Similarly, McConnell keeps talking about the Democrats injecting liberal pipe dream projects into the bill, while not addressing the fact that the Democrats have been insistent that states and cities need to get relief, too, and refusing relief to states and cities is continuing to cripple the economy. McConnell has literally said he would prefer to see states go bankrupt. This is a major sticking point between the two sides.

Finally, the press often frame the situation as a stalemate where neither side will compromise. The House passed a bill for 3 trillion, then a smaller compromise-type bill for 2.2 trillion. The Senate has offered 1 trillion and then 500 billion. This is not a situation where the Senate is trying in good faith to meet the other side half way.

Finally finally, the House passed their first follow-up bill in May - more than 5 months ago. McConnell said many times that there was no hurry to respond, that instead, the Senate wanted to wait and see what kind of an effect the first bill had. This is a situation in whcih one party, which controls the Senate, has not been taking the pandemic seriously.
posted by kristi at 4:47 PM on October 19 [1 favorite]

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