What we need, clearly, is a very large-scale program of disaster relief, providing families, businesses and, not least, state and local governments with the help they require to avoid financial ruin until a vaccine arrives. And you might think that a Republican Senate would be willing to work with the Biden administration on such an obviously necessary program.
That is, you might think this if you’ve been hiding in a cave for the past 12 years.
Remember, Mitch McConnell’s famous declaration, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” came in October 2010, at a time of sluggish recovery and extremely high unemployment. Why expect him to be more cooperative, more willing to act in the national interest, when millions of dead-end Trump supporters are accusing establishment Republicans of stabbing their hero in the back?
Realistically, the most we can hope for is a stingy package that falls far short of what America needs. And I wonder whether Trump-fearing Republicans — who have offered remarkable profiles in cowardice as the soon-to-be ex-president makes wild claims about election theft — will be willing to agree to even that much.
The good news is that the misery will abate when we finally have widespread distribution of a vaccine. In fact, we’ll probably see a sharp jobs recovery late next year.
But that won’t be the end of the story. Before the coronavirus struck, America had low unemployment — but our short-term (and very unequally distributed) prosperity masked the extent to which we were neglecting our future. We desperately need to spend trillions on repairing our crumbling infrastructure, caring for our children and meeting the urgent need for action against climate change.
How much of that essential spending will a Republican Senate agree to? The best guess is zero. After all, McConnell blocked infrastructure spending even when Trump was in the White House and public investment could have helped keep him in office.
Now, what’s bad for America isn’t necessarily bad for corporations. But given where we are, divided government would mean paralysis in a time of crisis, which could very well be catastrophic for everyone. The truth is that even in its own interests, the big money should be rooting for Democrats in those Georgia runoffs.
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