Monday, March 23, 2020
You never let a serious crisis go to waste, as Rahm's Rule says. Never was there a more concise summary of both the promise and dysfunction of American politics. Every time the country faces a crisis, real or perceived, there is a rush in Congress to pass massive bills that go far beyond responding to the matter at hand.
The latest example is the newly-introduced House version of the "Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act," intended to afford stimulus and stability in the face of the economic crisis fomented by COVID-19. The bill my provide some form of succor to the economy, but in the words of Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), the crisis is also "a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision."
Unfortunately, much of the bill has nothing to do with COVID-19.
The 1119-page bill is Christmas in March for liberal special interests. It imposes racial and gender pay equity provisions, diversity on corporate boards, increased use of minority-owned banks by federal offices, and a grab-bag of other diversity-themed requirements. It increases the collective bargaining power for unions and cancels all the debt owed by the U.S. Postal Service to the U.S. Treasury. For the global warming crowd there are increased fuel emission standards and required carbon offsets for airlines, plus tax credits for alternative energy programs. For the kids there is a provision for student loan payment deferment, and for the education bureaucrats who overcharge them a $9.5 billion giveaway to colleges and universities. It gives $100 million to juvenile justice programs, and suspends various aspects of enforcement of immigration laws.
Perhaps the most troubling sections of the bill are under the rubric American Coronavirus/COVID"19 Election Safety and Security" or ACCESS" Act. This section would impose requirements on states for early voting, voting by mail, required mailing of absentee ballots to everyone, ballot harvesting (i.e., having third parties deliver absentee ballots), online voter registration, same-day registration and other practices which undermine confidence in the integrity of the ballot.
It is hard quickly to root out whatever other aspects of this bill bear no relationship to COVID-19, but to its backers that is the point. We can't really know what's in it until they pass it, to paraphrase Speaker Pelosi on another such memorable occasion.
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