House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would not let it go when a reporter questioned if she would be willing to pass a short-term extension to enhanced unemployment benefits while Democrats and Republicans tried to iron out the differences between their next coronavirus relief bill.
The Democrats’ plan calls for $3 trillion in new spending, matching more or less the original $2.2 trillion CARES Act plus other coronavirus legislation passed in the spring.
It includes extending the $600-per-week federal supplement in unemployment insurance through the end of January, which currently is due to expire at the end of the month.
The bill also provides for $1,200 stimulus payments to adults like those found in the CARES Act plus $1,200 payments for dependents, NPR reported.
Many have noted that a problem with the federal supplement to the state unemployment insurance benefits is that large numbers of Americans receive more staying at home than going back to work.
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The Democratic bill also includes nearly $1 trillion in aid to states and municipalities.
The Republican plan, the HEALS Act unveiled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday, costs about $1 trillion and includes up to $200 per week in supplemental unemployment insurance, capping benefits at 70 percent of pre-pandemic pay, according to the New York Post.
Additionally, the GOP legislation includes $1,200 stimulus payments, plus the $500 for dependents.
Asked by a reporter if she would accept a short-term renewal in the current unemployment benefits scheme while Republicans and Democrats hashed out the $2 trillion divide between their plans, Pelosi said no — at least eight times.
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“I would be very much averse to separating this out and lose all leverage for meeting all of the other needs,” the speaker explained.
“It’s a fraudulent tactic, and with all due respect to you, an unworthy question when it comes to meeting the needs of America’s working families.
“So, they can ignore all the needs that we have for testing, all the needs we have for state and local government, all the needs we have for food security, all the needs we have for the [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] benefit that is in the bill, all the needs that we have for vote-by-mail and other priorities that we have that are about justice,” the speaker went on.
The reporter followed up, prompting Pelosi to really pounce.
“I understand all of that, but are you considering extending these benefits for a month or two while you continue to negotiate?” the reporter asked.
Nancy Pelosi has a mental breakdown on camera ..starts yelling “NO” over and over at a reporter …pic.twitter.com/NTY9YV6XH4
— Ruthann (@TeaBoots) July 25, 2020
Pelosi responded, “No, no, no, no.”
“Do you understand ‘no’?” she continued.
As the reporter tried to make the case that people in need could be hurt by Pelosi’s intransigence, the speaker cut her saying, “no” and finally conclude her rant with “Pass the bill.”
What is clear the speaker is in the “never let a crisis go to waste” mode by extending the unemployment benefits through January.
We are a compassionate country navigating a very challenging time, but the role of the government is not to pay people more to stay home than to work.
There also is the little detail of the more than $26.5 trillion national debt, which has exceeded the country’s gross domestic product for the first time since World War II.
The budget deficits for this year alone could exceed $4 trillion, the largest by far in U.S. history, according to the Manhattan Institute.
If we’re going to spend more, $1 trillion is definitely better than $3 trillion at this point.
Further, the GOP plan is right in line with the traditional understanding of unemployment insurance: It helps people in times of need but makes going back to work the more financially appealing choice.
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