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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Enough is enough: COVID-19, partisanship and a struggling economy

Enough+is+enough%3A+COVID-19%2C+partisanship+and+a+struggling+economy

The coronavirus pandemic precipitated a severe economic downturn, leaving the American people, especially working and middle-class Americans, to bear the brunt of the financial crisis. 

But an economic stimulus package has yet to come out of Congress since April. Thankfully, there are still some members of Congress who want to do their jobs and pass legislation amidst the crisis. 

The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, a group who seeks to foster bipartisan cooperation on key issues, released their “March to Common Ground” stimulus plan of $1.5 trillion in aid, which is larger than the Republican “skinny stimulus” of $650 billion and smaller than the Democratic stimulus of $2.2 trillion. 

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic leadership immediately dismissed the bipartisan plan, refusing to call for a vote, claiming that it “falls short.” 

Our country is being ransacked by a pandemic and an economic fallout. Americans are getting sick and many are dying. Millions are unemployed and small businesses are closing. The only reliable constant of summer 2020: the U.S. Congress not doing its job. 

Congress is either blissfully unaware or indignantly indifferent to the state of our country and the well-being of its citizens. Even during a time of crisis and great need, our public “servants”  are unable to serve.

A bipartisan team of congressmen and women, 25 Republicans and 25 Democrats, came together and proposed a timely, reasonable and fair stimulus plan on behalf of the American people, which is a rarity by today’s standards. Even more rare, the Trump Administration is not to blame for the plan’s demise. 

Now, this is not to say that U.S. President Donald Trump or U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell are bipartisanship’s biggest champions, but at least in this case, they were not the ones to dismiss it out of hand. 

In this case, Pelosi and the House Democratic leadership had the audacity to immediately dismiss the plan and refuse a vote. They had the gall to dismiss the proposal which would place money and aid in the hands of those in need. Pelosi commented that “It isn’t about finger pointing and it isn’t about machinations. It is about meeting the needs of the American people,” according to Newsweek. 

Well, actions speak louder than words. If Congress truly cares about meeting the needs of the American people, why did Pelosi refuse the only viable option to do so? Why are Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues unable to swallow their pride and pass an imperfect piece of legislation on behalf of the common good? 

People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake. Good leadership during times of crisis requires humility and two feet firmly planted on the ground. Passing an imperfect stimulus plan is better than no stimulus at all. 

The single parent, employed as an essential worker with one child learning virtually from home, does not gain anything from Pelosi’s stance. The mom-and-pop shop does not receive anything from McConnell’s “skinny” bill that has no chance of making it through the House. 

Congress members must rid themselves of such uncompromising, self-conceited attitudes. Members of Congress are supposed to be public servants, they are meant to serve the public on behalf of the common good. Now is not the time for moral high grounds. The American people do not need their elected officials saving face at the moment, racking up airtime on Fox News and MSNBC. Instead, we need our public servants in their chambers, behind closed doors, working out their differences and putting forth solutions that satisfy the economic needs of the American people in a timely manner. 

Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt’s famous “The Man in the Arena”  quote speaks to the fact that, “there is no effort without error and shortcoming.” 

Currently, the only one in the Congressional arena is the Problem Solvers Caucus. Those 50 members of Congress got their hands dirty, stated their opinions, debated, worked out their differences and produced a plan worthy of consideration and implementation. 

While the Problem Solvers’ Caucus worried, McConnell receded into his turtle-like shell in the corner of the arena and Pelosi has seemingly gone home because no one will play by her rules. 

And what’s left? A citizenry devoid of leadership and what they need most: economic assistance. 

Congress’ inaction is a gross injustice to the American people. The American people lie in wait, as congressional leadership twiddles their thumbs. I am not asking for much. The American people are not asking for much. The Problem Solvers Caucus has done its job. It’s time for the rest of Congress to do theirs. It’s time for Republican leadership to step up and for Democratic leadership to step back in. 

 

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