- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 7, 2020

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Thursday that Democrats will unveil a “big and bold” coronavirus relief package that he compared to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Mr. Schumer said he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are still working on the package but should be ready to roll it out “shortly.”

“We need Franklin Rooseveltian-type action and we hope to take that in the House and Senate in a very big and bold way,” he said on MSNBC.

The New York Democrat extended the New Deal claim on the Senate floor, comparing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump’s reluctance to move another large spending bill to the actions of Roosevelt’s predecessor as the country plunged into the Great Depression.

“President Herbert Hoover was reluctant to use national resources to combat a national crisis,” Mr. Schumer said. “His failure to act contributed to the length and severity of the Depression.”

“If President Trump responds with the same timidity as President Hoover did, I fear the nation would suffer the same consequences as it did in the past,” he added.

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said she plans to have the House reconvene next week to vote on the Democrats’ plan.

Hoover wrongly predicted that the economy would recover quickly at the onset of the economic crisis and didn’t ramp up federal spending in response as much as many had sought. Roosevelt, who came into office in 1933, responded to the massive unemployment and price collapses with an unprecedented influx of government spending, public works projects and reforms of financial institutions.

The New Deal is often credited with ending the Depression, but historians disagree on the issue and note myriad other factors, most notably the onset of World War II. The American industrial sector only really returned to pre-Depression levels as production ramped back up to meet the needs of the war effort.

The current economic turmoil, which resulted from government-ordered business shutdowns to stop the spread of the coronavirus, has resulted in immediate jobless numbers that rival those of the Great Depression.

Congress so far as passed four coronavirus economic rescue bills that spent nearly $3 trillion, with each package drafted by a bipartisan negotiation team.

This time, Democrats plan to take the lead presenting their version of a fifth package.

Mrs. Pelosi said she hopes Republicans understand the Democrats’ priorities have bipartisan support across the country but “we have to start someplace.”

“It is a reflection of the needs of the American people,” she said. “We need a presidential signature so at some point we’ll have to come to an agreement.”

Democrats want more than $500 billion to ease the shutdown-induced budget crunch for state, county and municipal governments, as well as extra money for states to use on Medicare.

They want to expand unemployment insurance beyond the extra $600 per week already doled out because of the virus, bolster a small business loan program and provide hazard pay to frontline workers.

There also has been talk of included funds for a massive infrastructure project and vote-by-mail procedures to ensure the November election isn’t derailed by the pandemic.

Republicans have distanced themselves from the push for another rescue bill. Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said their “red line” for more stimulus spending was including lawsuit protections for business owners.

Another concern in the runaway debt.

“I’m a pay-as-you-go person, much to the dismay of some in my party,” said Mrs. Pelosi. “But what we’re talking about now is about a stimulus to our economy, at a time when people are crippled with concern about their, their physical well being, as well as their economic well being.”

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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