In 2009 as Barack Obama faced the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression, his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, told the Wall Street Journal, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” In other words, in normal times what Obama and Emanuel wanted to do would be impossible because the American people would oppose it. So Democrats politicized the crisis to act.
Obama didn’t waste that crisis. His trillion-dollar stimulus massively increased the federal role in education, food assistance, and funding for favored groups while trying to “transform” America. He attempted to use the suffering, fear, and anger of Americans over the recession to fundamentally alter the relationship between the governed and the government.
Rep. James Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House, was as succinct as Emanuel in telling Democrats to politicize the crisis. He was on a conference call with 200 other Democrats discussing the possible third stimulus package being bandied about the Hill in recent days.
On a Thursday conference call featuring more than 200 members of the House Democratic caucus, lawmakers one by one laid out a sweeping wish list of provisions they want to see included in the nascent package, including a boost in infrastructure spending, an expansion of Social Security benefits and funding for states to set up an all-mail voting system in the event the pandemic extends into November’s elections.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision,” Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told lawmakers, according to a source on the call.
What does “restructuring” the nation to include the Democrats’ socialist “vision” have to do with recovering from the economic damage caused by the pandemic? Nothing at all. But as long as Congress is throwing trillion-dollar stimulus bills around like nickels, why not?
Unfortunately, we are going to need a third stimulus bill, if only to get the economy moving again. That’s why Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to limit any third stimulus bill to effects from the COVID-19 pandemic.
McConnell has warned that he wants to limit the proposal to addressing the most immediate economic damage created by the pandemic.
“Anything that doesn’t address that pandemic, it seems to me, should not be considered,” he said.
Yet that could set the chambers on a collision course over what provisions fit that benchmark, as House Democrats press for a wide range of relief provisions that include a broader expansion of unemployment benefits, a boost in Social Security payments and new funding for job training.
Not all will be sweetness and light if Democrats get it in their head that they can transform the country using a health crisis. It’s cynical. It’s manipulative. And I’d say “unprecedented” except they did the exact same thing in 2008 during the Great Recession.