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McConnell continues to be Trump’s biggest enabler

By Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

Fate has been unkind to the United States. The nation is grappling simultaneously with a pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 136,000; the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression; and mind-numbing police brutality, which has generated the largest outpouring of grief and anger against systemic racism in memory.

Perhaps America’s greatest misfortune is that these crises have emerged at a time when its leadership is maliciously dedicated to worsening them.

Donald Trump’s biggest enabler is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell’s response to Trump’s overt appeals to racism? He “is not a racist.”

McConnell’s response to Trump’s failure to contain COVID-19? “President Obama should have kept his mouth shut” and not criticized Trump.

McConnell’s take on Trump’s multiple attacks on the rule of law, including Friday’s commutation of former Trump campaign aide Roger Stone’s prison sentence? Utter silence.

McConnell has been a vocal opponent of the HEROES Act — passed by the House in May to help Americans survive the pandemic and fortify the upcoming election — calling it a “liberal wish list.” In fact, it’s a necessary agenda.

 

McConnell and his fellow Senate Republicans don’t want to extend the bill’s extra-$600-a-week unemployment benefits, which were enacted in March but are due to expire on July 31. They argue that the benefits are higher than what low-income workers are likely to earn on the job, so the money is a disincentive to work.

Rubbish. Few jobs are available to low-income workers, and most are in so-called “essential” work rife with COVID-19. Besides, the U.S. economy can’t be revived unless people have extra money in their pockets to buy goods and services. Even before the pandemic, nearly 80 percent of Americans lived paycheck to paycheck. Now, many are desperate, as revealed by lengthening food lines and growing delinquencies in rent payments.

Yet McConnell and his ilk are happy to give away trillions of dollars in bailouts to Wall Street bankers and corporate executives. They quietly inserted into the last COVID relief bill a $170 billion windfall to Jared Kushner and other real estate moguls. Another $454 billion went to backing up a Federal Reserve program that benefits big business by buying up debt.

And although that bill was also intended to help small businesses, lobbyists connected to Trump (including current donors and fundraisers for his re-election) helped their clients rake in more than $10 billion, while an estimated 90 percent of small businesses owned by people of color and women got nothing.

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