President Trump has been deeply dissatisfied by the reluctance of the Republican establishment to support his challenges to November’s election results that he and millions of voters attribute to vote fraud. Trump has been particularly unhappy with the laissez-faire attitude of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has discouraged GOP senators from openly backing Trump’s effort. The president had his revenge Tuesday night when he denounced the coronavirus stimulus bill that McConnell had finally finished Monday evening and hailed as a “historic rescue package to help American families through this pandemic.” Trump demanded a “suitable” bill that includes $2,000 checks for individuals and contains no wasteful spending.
If Trump refuses to sign the McConnell legislation, which includes $600 for individuals and contains all manner of special interest funding unrelated to COVID-19, the Republicans may well lose two Georgia Senate seats and control of Congress. The McConnell bill was cobbled together largely because of the January 5 Georgia runoff for two Senate seats that protect the GOP majority. Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have been selling themselves as alternatives to the GOP incumbents, Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, whom they accuse of being too abstemious to provide much needed assistance to Georgians hurt by the pandemic. Both Democrats immediately exploited the president’s criticism of the package. Ossoff put it as follows:
President Trump is, as ever, erratic and all over the place, but on this point, tonight, he’s right. Six hundred dollars is a joke. They should send $2,000 checks to the American people right now because people are hurting. And David Perdue … who opposed even the first single round of $1,200 checks … has obstructed direct relief for the last eight months, and now decided he wanted to cut it down to $600 when people can barely feed their families through no fault of their own. Congress should pass $2,000 checks.
Warnock issued this statement:
As I’ve said from the start, the Senate should have acted on this months ago and support for Georgians should have been far greater. Donald Trump is right, Congress should swiftly increase to $2,000. Once and for all Senator Loeffler should do what’s best for Georgia instead of focusing on what she can do for herself.
Ossoff and Warnock are, of course, being disingenuous when they claim that the Republicans have been delaying the COVID-19 relief package. The GOP has been attempting to get the Democrats off the dime on a coronavirus bill since last summer, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer refused to budge. In July, the Republicans proposed a $1 trillion package that included a second phase of Paycheck Protection, direct checks for households, and funding for health-care providers. The Democrats refused to even consider the legislation unless it included all the left-wing goodies in their “Heroes Act” wish list. The Democrats also rejected relief bills in August, September, and October. By that time, of course, it was all about the November election.
Once the general election was over, however, the Democrats realized that the comprehensive “blue wave” they expected failed to materialize. In fact, with the exception of their apparent victory in the presidential contest, they sustained considerable down-ballot damage. Their already thin majority in the House was cut in half. They lost ground in state legislatures, and they lost another gubernatorial contest in Montana. They also failed to flip the Senate. This is, of course, why the Georgia runoffs are so important and why McConnell’s failure to support President Trump’s election challenges, no matter what, constituted one of the majority leader’s rare tactical blunders. He should have known Trump would remind the voters why they voted for him in the first place:
Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it. It wasn’t their fault, it was China’s fault. Not their fault. I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple. I’m also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package.
McConnell is one of those Beltway insiders who views President Trump as an anomaly. He views his presidency as a temporary and tempestuous interruption to business as usual. But business as usual is history. Trump is not going out with a whimper. In fact, he isn’t going out at all. He may not live in the White House after January 20, but he represents a burgeoning force in American culture of which the ruling class is barely aware. And our Beltway masters forget that reality at their peril.