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Why Republican opposition to the Covid stimulus bill looks like very bad politic

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Author Topic: Why Republican opposition to the Covid stimulus bill looks like very bad politic  (Read 265 times)
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« on: March 11, 2021, 01:58:12 pm »

Why Republican opposition to the Covid-19 stimulus bill looks like very bad politics
Chris Cillizza

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

Updated 10:12 AM ET, Thu March 11, 2021

(CNN)Here's a remarkable stat for you: A total of zero -- yes, zero! -- Republicans in the House and Senate voted for the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan aimed at helping the country recover from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
All 49 Republicans present in the Senate voted no (Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska was absent from the final vote because of the death of his father-in-law.) All 210 Republicans in the House voted no.
The goal, politically speaking, was simple: To show that, despite President Joe Biden's pledges of bipartisanship during the 2020 campaign, this massive piece of domestic spending was not in any way the product of both parties coming together.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) summed up that sentiment in a tweet posted soon after the Senate approved the legislation earlier this month:
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"Instead of working together to fight COVID-19, Democrats decided to exploit the crisis by jamming through unrelated liberal policies they couldn't pass honest. A colossal missed opportunity for the American people."

The American people appear to disagree.


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A new CNN national poll showed that more than 6 in 10 Americans (61%) approve of the legislation while two-thirds believe it will help the economy and 55% expect it to help them. In a country as deeply divided along purely partisan line as the United States right now, those numbers are pretty dramatic.

Those numbers are also far from an anomaly. A new CBS News poll released Thursday morning showed 75% of Americans approve of Congress passing the Covid-19 stimulus bill -- a number that includes 77% of independents and almost half (46%) of self-identified Republicans. And that data echoes a new Pew poll that shows 70% of Americans support the stimulus bill while just 28% oppose it. In that survey, more than 4 in 10 Republicans (41%) approve of the legislation.
The conclusion here is simple: This is a popular bill. And that support, with the American public at least, is bipartisan.
(Sidebar: How do you define something as "bipartisan?" If a decent chunk of people in the party out of power support it? Or only if politicians in the party out of power support it?)
And it's not just that the overall bill is popular. It's that many of the individual provisions in the bill are even more popular. This from CNN polling director Jennifer Agiesta on the results of the latest CNN poll is instructive:
"In the new poll, 61% support the $1.9 trillion economic relief bill proposed by Biden and expected to pass in the House Wednesday, and several key provisions of the bill are even more popular. A broad majority of Americans (85%) say they support policies in the bill that would provide larger tax credits for families and make them easier for low-income households to claim, including majorities across party lines (95% of Democrats and 73% of Republicans support it). Around three-quarters favor provisions to provide funding to facilitate a return to the classroom for K-12 students (77%), and sending stimulus checks worth up to $1,400 per person to most families and individuals (76%). Both of those policies also have majority support across party lines (55% of Republicans support each, among Democrats, support tops 90% for each one)."
If you think about it for a minute, it makes sense. This legislation, that President Biden is expected to sign on Friday, pumps money -- lots and lots of money -- into the American economy. That includes 90% of Americans who will be eligible for up to as much as $1,400 per person in stimulus checks. And money for public schools to help them reopen fully -- after an incredibly difficult year of virtual schools for millions of families. And more money for those still unemployed due to the pandemic. And more money for small businesses. And for vaccines and testing.
You get the idea. The vast majority of Americans will benefit in ways small and large from the money approved by Congress in this bill. And -- breaking news! -- people like getting money. And every single Republican is on the record in opposition to it.
Which, as you might have already figured out, poses a major political problem for GOP elected officials in Washington. A problem that they seem to just be realizing -- and inventing creative ways to attempt to wriggle out of.
Witness Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, who, like every other Republican senator, voted against the Covid-19 bill last week.
"Independent restaurant operators have won $28.6 billion worth of targeted relief," he tweeted on Wednesday. "This funding will ensure small businesses can survive the pandemic by helping to adapt their operations and keep their employees on the payroll."
Er ...
Or Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who, after four years of standing by as former President Donald Trump exploded the national debt, decided that now is the time to re-focus on "this out-of-control debt" that has "serious consequences for American families."

Republicans are in a political bind. They stand uniformly opposed to a bill that the American people really like. And they clearly have no real reason for their stance other than the unstated one: They weren't consulted enough and didn't want to give Biden a big win in his first 50 days in office.
That's not a politically defensible position. But its the position Republicans find themselves in at the moment.
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