Robert Reich: How Mitch McConnell’s Republicans Are Destroying America

While a lethal pandemic and economic crisis wreak havoc on working families, McConnell and the GOP are dead set on protecting business interests and enriching the wealthy.

Robert Reich August 5, 2020

McConnell’s response to the pandemic? He urges lawmakers to be “cautious” about helping struggling Americans. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)

Sen­ate Repub­li­cans’ shame­ful pri­or­i­ties are on full dis­play as the nation con­tin­ues to grap­ple with an unprece­dent­ed health and eco­nom­ic crisis.

Mitch McConnell and the GOP refuse to take up the HEROES Act, passed by the House in ear­ly May to help Amer­i­cans sur­vive the pan­dem­ic and for­ti­fy the upcom­ing election. 

Sen­ate Repub­li­cans don’t want to extend the extra $600 a week in unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits, even though unem­ploy­ment has soared to the high­est lev­els since the Great Depression.

Even before the pan­dem­ic, near­ly 80 per­cent of Amer­i­cans lived pay­check to pay­check. Now many are des­per­ate, as revealed by length­en­ing food lines and grow­ing delin­quen­cies in rent payments. 

McConnell’s response? He urges law­mak­ers to be cau­tious” about help­ing strug­gling Amer­i­cans, warn­ing that the amount of debt that we’re adding up is a mat­ter of gen­uine concern.” 

McConnell seems to for­get the $1.9 tril­lion tax cut he engi­neered in Decem­ber 2017 for big cor­po­ra­tions and the super-rich, which blew up the deficit. 

That’s just the begin­ning of the GOP’s hand­outs for cor­po­ra­tions and the wealthy. As soon as the pan­dem­ic hit, McConnell and Sen­ate Repub­li­cans were quick to give mega-cor­po­ra­tions a $500 bil­lion blank check, while only send­ing Amer­i­cans a pal­try one-time $1,200 check.

The GOP seems to believe that the rich will work hard­er if they receive more mon­ey while peo­ple of mod­est means work hard­er if they receive less. In real­i­ty, the rich con­tribute more to Repub­li­can cam­paigns when they get bailed out.

That’s pre­cise­ly why the GOP put into the last Covid relief bill a $170 bil­lion wind­fall to Jared Kush­n­er and oth­er real estate moguls, who line the GOP’s cam­paign cof­fers. Anoth­er $454 bil­lion of the pack­age went to back­ing up a Fed­er­al Reserve pro­gram that ben­e­fits big busi­ness by buy­ing up their debt.

And although the bill was also intend­ed to help small busi­ness­es, lob­by­ists con­nect­ed to Trump – includ­ing cur­rent donors and fundrais­ers for his reelec­tion – helped their clients rake in over $10 bil­lion of the aid, while an esti­mat­ed 90 per­cent of small busi­ness­es owned by peo­ple of col­or and women got nothing.

The GOP’s shame­ful pri­or­i­ties have left count­less small busi­ness­es with no choice but to close. They’ve also left 22 mil­lion Amer­i­cans unem­ployed, and 28 mil­lion at risk of being evict­ed by September. 

For the bulk of this cri­sis, McConnell called the Sen­ate back into ses­sion only to con­firm more of Trump’s extrem­ist judges and advance a $740 bil­lion defense spend­ing bill. 

Through­out it all, McConnell has insist­ed his pri­or­i­ty is to shield busi­ness­es from Covid-relat­ed law­suits by cus­tomers and employ­ees who have con­tract­ed the virus.

The inept and over­whelm­ing­ly cor­rupt reign of Trump, McConnell, and Sen­ate Repub­li­cans will come to an end next Jan­u­ary if enough Amer­i­cans vote this com­ing November.

But will enough peo­ple vote dur­ing a pan­dem­ic? The HEROES Act pro­vides $3.6 bil­lion for states to expand mail-in and ear­ly vot­ing, but McConnell and his GOP lack­eys aren’t inter­est­ed. They’re well aware that more vot­ers increase the like­li­hood Repub­li­cans will be boot­ed out.

Time and again, they’ve shown that they only care about their wealthy donors and cor­po­rate back­ers. If they had an ounce of con­cern for the nation, their pri­or­i­ty would be to shield Amer­i­cans from the rav­ages of Covid and Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy from the rav­ages of Trump. But we know where their pri­or­i­ties lie.

This post first appeared on robertre​ich​.org

Robert B. Reich, Chancellor’s Pro­fes­sor of Pub­lic Pol­i­cy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia at Berke­ley, was Sec­re­tary of Labor in the Clin­ton admin­is­tra­tion. Time mag­a­zine named him one of the ten most effec­tive cab­i­net sec­re­taries of the 20th cen­tu­ry. He has writ­ten thir­teen books, includ­ing the best­sellers After­shock and The Work of Nations. His lat­est, Beyond Out­rage, is now out in paper­back. He is also a found­ing edi­tor of the Amer­i­can Prospect and chair­man of Com­mon Cause. His new film, Inequal­i­ty for All, is now avail­able on Net­flix, iTunes, DVD and On Demand.
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