Is AOC or Cruz right about COVID aid stalemate?
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC, serves as New York’s representative for the 14th congressional district. She fights for the rights of the working class, “advocating for social, racial, economic, and environmental justice.”
- Ted Cruz has been senator of Texas since 2013, briefly pausing his term to run for president in 2015, and after endorsing Trump for the election, returned to the senate. He is known for his passion for “limited government, economic growth, and the Constitution.”
- As of November 24, there have been 12.8 million coronavirus cases in the United States, with 265,035 reported deaths.
- Nancy Pelosi has been pushing for a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill for weeks while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is stuck on $500 billion.
- AOC and Cruz are blaming opposite political parties for the stimulus stall, AOC suggesting Republicans are to blame, and Cruz shifting the weight to the Democrats for “filibustering relief.”
It's quite easy to see that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) is correct in her criticism of the Republican blockade on coronavirus aid; simply put, Mitch McConnell decided to send legislators home for the break instead of working toward an agreement. If McConnell truly had the needs of everyday Americans in his mind, he could have demanded that the Senate keep working; instead, he chose to let the opportunity pass, leaving many citizens unsure of their futures.
Democrats in the House of Representatives passed the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act in May and voted for an updated version with $2.2 trillion in aid in October. Unfortunately, when sent to the Senate, this bill was declared 'dead on arrival' by Mitch McConnell. With Republicans unwilling to pass or negotiate meaningful stimulus, more calls from those who have the public's interest at heart, like AOC, will be forthcoming.
AOC has expressed dissatisfaction with the Republican desire for incremental stimulus. Republicans want to pass small bills, claiming that they will pass additional small aid packages as needed. This would be fine except that Congress is being disrupted by the virus and has been virtually unable to pass any legislation lately. To say that they will just pop in and pass another bill quickly is pure fantasy. Covid stimulus needs to be big and effective, not depending on Congress's scraping a few dollars together every few months. Real, effective policies such as automatic cash payments to every American, similar to the first round of stimulus, are one of the key elements that AOC has claimed are missing from this incremental approach to stimulus.
Senator Cruz has fundamental differences of opinion about the size and composition of AOC's Democrat-sponsored COVID stimulus package, which is why he does not endorse it. The $2.2 trillion price tag of AOC's plan is hundreds of billions more than Cruz and his fellow Republicans know the American people can expend. Any additional spending by the government increases our enormous national debt that future generations' will carry the financial burden to pay off. The Democrat stimulus plan would explode the Federal deficit, which currently stands at $3.1 trillion.
A stimulus plan should be focused on measures that support US production capacity (like our ability to increase GDP). Funds should be directed to small and medium-sized businesses to finance and encourage economic growth and new jobs. Instead, the Democrats' plan keeps Americans out of work and dependent on government checks to pay their bills. Specifically, their plan calls for extending the $600/week unemployment benefit to 2021 and making it retroactive to September 5th. Republicans favor a more modest plan of an additional $300-$400 per week. Additionally, Republicans want to ensure that any stimulus plan protects employers from lawsuits arising from coronavirus cases unless gross negligence is the cause.
Finally, a major sticking point for Republicans in Democrats' stimulus plan is the nearly $700 billion in state and local government aid proposed. Republicans are against steering such large sums to the public sector, which they perceive as wasteful and designed to 'bail out profligate' Democrat-controlled states. Senator Cruz is right to oppose being bullied by AOC in accepting an inferior COVID stimulus package just to end the current legislative stalemate.