Bipartisanship only goes so far. If there was ever a reason to vote for better candidates this coming November, it’s because of how some on the Left have responded to the coronavirus pandemic over the last few days.
Specifically, those Democrats who caused the delay of coronavirus relief in the U.S. Senate, then supported a bill with nonessential items; and those Democrats in Annapolis who, in the midst of a state rocked by quarantine and financial distress because of coronavirus, voted for more taxes.
Democrats in Washington, D.C., say they held up the aid because it didn’t go far enough. Democrats in Annapolis say they expanded taxes during an emergency to pay for the Kirwin Commission’s education recommendations.
Both lines of reasoning are disingenuous.
Time is not on our side. The coronavirus is here. We’re doing our best to counter it. Americans — and Marylanders — are resilient. But they are hurting because of the trial we face. Common sense, honest bipartisanship is crucial to help ameliorate that struggle.
The bipartisanship I complimented in my column on Sunday is diminished, now, because of those certain Democrats.
Their idea that the U.S. Senate’s proposed bill didn’t go far enough was nonsense. The bill provided a good amount of aid for individual Americans, and beyond. If the Democrats in the House (or Senate) wanted even more, they could have proposed additional, subsequent legislation and debated it on the merits in an orderly method which still allowed agreed-upon aid to be passed and released, step by step.
In Annapolis, the shortened legislative session under exigent circumstances meant crucial bills should have been prioritized. At a point in time when many Marylanders are understandably concerned for their lives and livelihoods, Democrats have gifted them with the added financial burden of more taxes for schools their kids are not even attending at the moment. Education is essential — but to overwhelm Marylanders with more taxes in a time of uncertainty is wrong.
In both cases, the Left wasted time — time which Americans do not have. (And, in the case of Maryland’s Left, also money that Marylanders do not have.)
And how did some of Maryland’s Democrats respond when one of their own stood up against their tactics in Annapolis? They stripped her of a committee role — then callously leered about it.
I stand by everything I wrote and which was published on Sunday. We will get through this. But certain Democrats are not helping. They’re obstructing. And as they’re obstructing, the ground becomes more difficult to traverse.
Why are they doing this?
Because some Democrats are letting politics run rampant. Republicans opposed unnecessary liberal demands (including those pushed by certain House Democrats), such as that the federal government should be directly involved in the decision-making of companies who receive assistance, minimum wage increases, green energy tax credits, same-day voting, or carbon footprints of airline companies — things which are immaterial to the moment at hand. How are federal employees being paid for union activity, as Sen. Tom Cotton so evincingly explained, going to cure the coronavirus?
Cotton wasn’t alone. From Susan Collins to Tim Scott to Ben Sasse and beyond, Republican senators reiterated the clarion call: there is no time to waste on items unrelated to emergency economic and medical relief.
That includes anything of any unrelated measure proposed by anyone of any party. But still, those items got in — such as funding for sanctuary cities that the president sought to prevent. That put Republicans in a difficult place: do they pass an imperfect bill to provide relief, or do they fight it in the House?
This sort of practice also extends to the state level, where the truncated session in Annapolis was used as convenient means to rush through something substantive that warranted more time and discussion.
It also speaks to a fundamental political difference in perspective on the idea of our present circumstances. Conservatives see the federal coronavirus relief package as a tailored and temporary approach to a crisis that will end. Some liberals see the relief package as a chance to permanently implement ideological ideas and policy goals.
It is imperative to be cautious about the response, legislative or otherwise: this can only be temporary. As soon as it is safe, the focus of effort must shift to a return to normalcy. Indeed, the president should not be faulted for looking ahead to better days. We know what we need to do at the moment, but we can also pray and seek a reformed hour. We recognize the gravity of the situation, but seek a way to fly once more.
We will come out of this stronger, and more appreciative. The road back to where we were only a few short months ago may be long and difficult, but the way is not blocked. The fate of the relief bill now rests with the House, which is expected to vote on it today.
But when Americans go to the polls in November to vote, they should reflect on who, in a time of need, deemed them of equal value to the Kennedy Performing Arts Center.
Joe Vigliotti, a contributor to The Flip Side and a Taneytown city councilman, writes from Taneytown. His column appears every other Friday. Email him through his website at www.jvigliotti.com.