Well, it happened again! I was about to finish up a post looking at a positive aspect of Arizona politics, when the Governor had to weigh in on the effect of inaction by the U.S. Congress on the states’ inability to extend supplemental unemployment benefits for millions of jobless Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s on Congress,” Governor Ducey said at his Thursday press conference. He added that unemployment benefits for 480,000 jobless Arizonans would sink to $240 per week.
If Ducey could be intellectually honest, he would have said, “It’s on the U.S. Senate.” The other body of Congress, the House of Representatives, had done its job – two months ago – when it passed the Heroes Act. This definitive coronavirus relief bill included an extension of supplemental unemployment benefits along with a host of relief measures, including aid to states (like Arizona) that are cash-strapped at a time when they have a host of needs to expand public services during a continuing public health and economic crisis.
No help from the Senate
Let’s be honest. Senate majority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, successfully sidelined that bill. His gesture at compromise was a limited package that would have protected subsidies to businesses, large and small. It would have left unemployed Americans and state and local governments out in the cold. To almost no one’s surprise, the Senate bill failed on Thursday to get the necessary 60 votes to proceed.
Were the Democrats at fault for not caving in and voting for a bill that would have failed to meet the needs of constituents and closed the door on further attempts to get real relief that would have:
- Increased Americans’ buying power?
- Increased the ability of state and local governments to provide essential public services at a time they are most needed?
I don’t think so, but standing on that principle won’t help cash-poor households and state and local governments. It is time for Democrat leaders form the candidates for President and Vice President, down to candidates for Congress and state and local offices to go on the offensive. They must explain who is really to blame for withholding relief that would make it easier to get through this biologically induced economic crisis much easier.
Read a history of the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing great depression. Think about what you were taught in economics. History tells that the halfway measures used by the Hoover administration in 1929 and 1930 didn’t work and made the depression worse and more costly to fight.
Economists since John Maynard Keynes have been telling us how to fight economic downturns and prevent depressions. We are supposed to have the governmental tools to prevent depressions, but to do that requires a government willing to use those tools and get the job done.
We know who will do the job, and it’s our job to get the votes in 50 days necessary to get the job underway.