News & Politics

The Real Reason Dems Stalled on the Paycheck Protection Program

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., meets with reporters following escalation of tensions this week between the U.S. and Iran, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Update below: The House has adjourned.

In an interview with CNN on Monday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tried to flip the script on the Paycheck Protection Program. After it became clear the program to help small businesses during the coronavirus crisis would run out of money quickly, Pelosi and her fellow Democrats stalled. Well, on CNN on Monday, she suggested it was all the Republicans’ fault.

“When the Secretary [Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin] came and asked me for $250 billion — a quarter of a trillion dollars in 24 hours — I said, ‘Well we want to see the data on how that is spent but also we want to make sure — as long as we are going to the floor — that we do so in a way that makes sure that everyone can participate in the program,” she told Anderson Cooper.

“They said, no, no, no. Until about 100 hours ago, they said no. And now they’ve said yes,” Pelosi said.

Uh huh. It was totally those dastardly Republicans who extended the House of Representatives vacation. It was totally those dastardly Republicans who blocked the legislation to add $250 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, right?

Poor Nancy is struggling with a bad case of projection. See, while she was enjoying her fancy designer ice cream, millions of Americans were losing their livelihoods.

So why did Democrats delay? Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) explained it rather succinctly in a virtual press conference. “I think what you’re hearing from all of us on the call is that we have real concerns about giving away leverage now without getting some of the priorities that we need,” she said.

Huh. What are the “priorities” that Democrats “need”? Why, “structural” reforms to American law, of course! After all, last month, Democrats stalled the $2 trillion stimulus bill and presented their own alternative version jam-packed with pet projects like Green New Deal-style energy regulations on airlines, collective bargaining for unions, a $15/hour minimum wage, and sixty pages on elections.

This desire to use the coronavirus crisis to jam Democratic priorities down Americans’ throats goes all the way to the top of the Democratic Party. Presumptive nominee Joe Biden has called the crisis an “opportunity” for “structural” change on climate and voting. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) showed a similar spirit when she celebrated the negative prices for oil which threaten millions of oil and gas workers — because the crisis seemed to be an opportunity for her to push her Green New Deal.

What does it matter if millions of Americans are suffering amid an economic crisis so long as Democrats can find some “leverage” to push their radical agenda, right?

Update 11:45 a.m.:

The House adjourned without voting on expanding funds for the Paycheck Protection Program.

Rep. Bryan Mast (R-Fla.) claimed that Pelosi’s Democrats “adjourned the House of Representatives as fast as possible so that I wouldn’t have an opportunity to highlight the absolutely failed leadership that is occurring right now.”

Meanwhile, outlets like The Washington Post are shamelessly carrying water for the Democrats, suggesting that fast-food franchises are not small businesses and suggesting that Republicans are to blame for the delay.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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