Pandemic relief bill is badly flawed
March 26, 2020
To The Eagle:
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky dropped the ball this weekend. As the economy spiraled downward, McConnell, Senate majority leader, produced a badly flawed pandemic relief bill that would provide a lot of help for corporate executives and shareholders, and not nearly enough for American workers.
It would let the Treasury Department hand out hundreds of billions of dollars to corporations without requiring a binding commitment to preserve jobs and wages. To take just one example, the bill would let the Treasury bail out hotels owned by Mr. Trump on whatever terms his administration might care to dictate. Trump refused on Sunday night to pledge that he would refrain from taking any federal aid. The bailouts could remain secret for six months.
Senate Democrats, refusing to play along, blocked the bill in a procedural vote on Sunday night and again on Monday afternoon. Responsibility for the deadlock rests squarely on Mr. McConnell’s shoulders. There is a clear path forward. The proposal backed by Senate Republicans includes critical elements that enjoy broad support, including a $350 billion rescue fund for small business and a plan to send cash, totaling $250 billion, to most households.
The basic formula for helping businesses is straightforward. The federal government needs to provide the money that companies are unable to earn or borrow because of the pandemic. In exchange, companies need to maintain employment and wage payments. That’s the necessary grand bargain — the standard any bailout package should be required to meet.
The urgency of the moment does not justify the egregious misuse of public resources. It would be unpardonable folly for Congress to grant too much latitude to an administration that has repeatedly proved itself to be a careless steward of public resources.