The Kennedy Center ($40 million), gender programs in Pakistan ($25 million), military assistance for Egypt ($1.3 billion), stimulus checks for the family members of illegal immigrants ($1,800 each). In the 5,593 pages of the new coronavirus relief package, you will find these allocations and much more absurdity yet. As President Trump, speaking Tuesday night, noted, “it’s called the COVID Relief Bill, but it has almost nothing to do with COVID.”
Mr. Trump implicitly threatened a veto unless Congress goes back to the drawing board and excises the incredible and, in these desperate times, immoral amounts of pork. As he should.
What the president demanded, besides getting rid of the excess fat, was an increase in stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple, and additional relief for restaurant owners. For the millions of Americans on the brink of collapse, this, not billions in aid to foreign countries and wealthy lobbyists, is what’s needed.
It is amazing but unsurprising that the latest COVID-19 relief bill took months to assemble, and resulted in an engorged catastrophe which, as the president correctly pointed out, “nobody in Congress has read because of its length and complexity.” Of course, this was the whole point. Following the adage coined by the saintly Rahm Emanuel that “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” Democrats have now shown their true colors, jam-packing would should have been legislation oriented toward helping the American people, with payouts for friends.
As Mr. Emanuel quipped “I mean, it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.” Sounds about right.
The disaster of the latest relief package should be a wake-up call to Americans of all stripes. In their hour of need, Washington knowingly failed them in favor of rewarding companies, organizations and foreign countries with lobbying connections. How long will people continue to accept this way of doing business? How soon before we simply slide into oligarchy? Some days it certainly feels like we’ve arrived.
We hope, of course, that Congress sensibly comes together and presents Mr. Trump with a bill that brings true relief to Americans. And we hope, further, that, once COVID-19 is in the rear-view, a robust political post-mortem is undertaken. Who in Washington did what for whom must be known — and remembered.