Rashid: It’s Deja Vu as Republicans Reject the Recovery Plan

Supporters of President Donald Trump surround the U.S. Capitol following a rally on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

By Qasim Rashid

February 28, 2021

When it comes to economic recovery plans, some things you can just count on. That includes Republicans rejecting it.

It’s deja vu all over again. Most Americans recall the economic collapse as President Bush left office in January of 2009. In February 2009 President Obama passed a $787.2 billion recovery plan, and did so with 0 votes from Republicans in the House, and only 3 votes from Senate Republicans. In 2021, Americans face a similar economic travesty under outgoing President Trump. Now, as President Biden passes a $1.9 trillion economic recovery plan, he does so with 0 votes from House Republicans, and likely 0 votes from Senate Republicans.

These are the same Republicans who unanimously passed a $1.7 trillion tax cut for billionaires in 2017. Think about that. Republicans unanimously passed a $1.7 trillion tax cut for 600 billionaires but unanimously blocked a $1.9 trillion relief package for 330 million Americans. They unanimously voted for a tax cut for billionaires that demonstrably hurt the economy, while unanimously opposing a minimum wage increase that has sat stagnant at $7.25/hour since 2009.

By The Numbers

The GOP is telling us with their votes that they will stand united to fight for billionaires, and stand united to fight against working Americans, even against their Republican voters.

In fact, 76% of all voters, including 60% of Republicans, support Joe Biden’s COVID relief plan. Joe Biden isn’t perfect, but just six weeks into his Presidency and he’s united more Americans than his predecessor did in 4 years. Unfortunately, elected Republicans did not get the memo.

And it’s not just the GOP’s catering to billionaires while cratering the needs of working Americans that’s devastating our middle class—it’s also the shameful lying. In an email explaining why he voted against an overwhelmingly popular relief package supported by more than 70% of Americans, Republicans like Rob Wittman (VA-1) claimed, “only 9% of funding from this package will go toward COVID-19 relief.”

This is a lie. In reality, direct spending on public health to stop COVID is $400 billion, or 21%, and the remaining resources go to fund the reopening of schools, local and state governments, including law enforcement. These are all critical components to undo the damage done by COVID.

Is It Really a Wishlist?

We already knew Rob Wittman didn’t care about law enforcement when he helped inspire a deadly white supremacist led insurrection that killed US Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. But it’s even more shocking that Wittman votes against a wildly popular relief bill, lies about it, and brags about defunding the police.

Wittman remarkably adds in his objection to the relief plan, “…the remaining $1.7 trillion will go towards a wish list of Democratic priorities.  Among these include union pensions, bailouts for state and local governments…” On this he’s being honest—unlike Wittman and the GOP today, Democrats prioritize supporting local and state governments.

That’s how we ensure schools, police departments, fire stations, libraries, public parks, domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, food pantries, rent relief, UI extension, and local healthcare needs and more, are effectively met. Democrats also support an additional $1400 in cash relief to struggling Americans—another critical support mechanism the GOP unanimously voted to block.

How cruel of the GOP to both oppose a minimum wage increase, oppose rent relief, and oppose cash bailouts for working Americans—while unanimously supporting tax relief for billionaires?

Republicans Race to The Bottom

As I’ve written before, over the past 50 years, the bottom 90% of Americans have lost $50 trillion in wealth to the top 1%. This is largely due to tax cuts for billionaires, corporate welfare, and a stagnant minimum wage for working Americans.

History has shown us that while Obama’s bailout wasn’t perfect, it helped stop the bleeding and under sustained economic policies, led to the longest streak of job growth in American history. A streak ended by Donald Trump before the COVID pandemic he mishandled further cratered the economy.

No Democrat is arguing that Joe Biden’s relief plan is perfect. However, the vast majority of Americans recognize it is a critical step in the right direction and therefore support it to uplift all Americans, Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Liberal. Republican politicians continue to show voters that even in the midst of a deadly pandemic that has now killed over 500,000 of our fellow Americans, they will not go to bat for us. It’s time the American people stopped voting for Republican politicians.

Qasim Rashid is an attorney, author, and former candidate for US Congress. He resides in Stafford, VA. Follow him on Twitter @QasimRashid.

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