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The $1.9T COVID-19 stimulus bill is a progressive’s wish list

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The $1.9T COVID-19 stimulus bill is a progressive's wish list

Republicans should stop referring to the Democrats’ newest ideological wish list as a COVID “relief bill.” Surely, there is some GOP spin doctor who can come up with a more precise name for Joe Biden’s $2 trillion partisan monstrosity?

The media have mobilized to warn us about the devastating fallout if the GOP opposes the Dems’ plan; not only for the future of the country, but for their own party.

Do you remember when the Republican resistance to President Barack Obama’s partisan slush-fund “stimulus” bill sunk them in the 2010 midterms? Nor do I.

Although polls told us that a majority of Americans supported Obama’s efforts, not a single House Republican voted for the 2009 stimulus bill. By the next year, a majority had turned against the plan, and the GOP picked up a historic 63 seats, the biggest victory by a party in the midterm elections since 1938. By 2014, the Republicans, after remaining equally intractable on other bogus stimulus efforts, would run both the Senate and House.

Oh, the endless warnings we heard about the pitfalls of “obstructionism” in those days. When Republicans were sinking the 2011 stimulus, Obama adviser David Plouffe warned that it would be an American “tragedy.” When Republicans represent the desires of their constituents, the nation suddenly becomes “ungovernable.”

It is possible that, by the point when Republicans objected to a second stimulus, the ObamaCare fight had already sunk the Democrats’ national prospects. But in a sense, that’s the point. There will be scores of other divisive policy debates between now and the 2022 midterms, and, thus far, Team Biden has shown no inclination to pursue meaningful consensus.

And anyway, the same accusations will be leveled against the GOP. Republicans have the better long-term argument. “Critics say that my plan is too big, that it costs $1.9 trillion,” was Biden’s Obama-esque reply to questions regarding his $2 trillion plan. “Let me ask them: What would they have me cut? What would they have me leave out? Should we not invest $20 billion to vaccinate the nation? Should we not invest $290 million to extend unemployment insurance for the 11 million Americans who are unemployed so they can get by?”

Thank you for asking, Mr. President. How about the $570 million teachers-unions payoff that offers more “emergency leave” to erstwhile educators who have been paid all year to work from home and now stand in the way of reopening schools? How about the $50 million for abortion funding? How about the $350 billion to prop up the budgets of a handful of irresponsible states that refuse to balance their budgets? The Biden plan provides $852 million for lefty-approved civic-volunteer agencies that have zero to do with COVID-19 relief or stimulus. Why? The majority of the bill has nothing to do with the novel coronavirus.

As once-hero and future-villain Mitt Romney points out in The Wall Street Journal, the Congressional Budget Office’s recent analysis of Biden’s plan found that more than a third of proposed funding, around $700 billion, wouldn’t be spent until 2022 or later, by which time the economy will be doing just fine. It is difficult not to suspect that the plan, like most other massive hikes, is propelled by a desire to create a new baseline for federal spending, so that, in the future, anything less can be framed as a drastic and ­immoral “spending cut.”

The five previous COVID-19 relief bills were filled with many stables’ worth of Democratic hobbyhorses, but at least then there was a genuine case that the proposals had to pass. 

There is no such case now. With the pandemic likely to recede, the best stimulus will be a return to normalcy, accompanied by a handful of narrow, targeted bills designed to assist those who were the most adversely affected by the government-induced shutdowns. 

Before long, there will be a backlash over the government’s zealous and ineffective behavior during the pandemic, and Republicans should make sure they’re on the right side of it. Sure, GOP legislators will be accused of being massive hypocrites on the issue of spending. And in most cases, these accusations will be true. But it is never too late to do the right thing. 

A ­minority party that stands against waste, expansion of federal power and corrosive dependency only half the time is better than a ­minority party that never says a word.

Twitter: @DavidHarsanyi

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Opinion

Supreme Court decisions expose Dems as half-baked hysterics

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Supreme Court decisions expose Dems as half-baked hysterics

When President Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court last fall, hysterical Democrats declared millions of Americans would lose health coverage with her vote against ObamaCare — and immediately started talking about packing a court they called hopelessly divided.

Two big Supreme Court decisions last week proved reality turned out to be nothing like Dems’ fever dreams.

In a 7-2 decision in California v. Texas, the high court rejected a Republican bid to invalidate ObamaCare — and Barrett was not one of the two dissenters. It ruled that Texas and 17 other GOP-led states didn’t have standing to challenge the law’s individual mandate. The Trump administration had taken their side, while 20 Democratic-run states including New York and California, along with the Dem-controlled House of Representatives, took the other. Only Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented to the majority opinion the liberal Stephen Breyer authored.

How could this be? Last year, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared, “Confirming Amy Coney Barrett will be the end of the Affordable Care Act.” In her opening statement at Barrett’s confirmation hearing, then-Sen. Kamala Harris held up a picture of an 11-year-old constituent and accused Republicans of trying “to jam through a Supreme Court nominee who will take away health care from millions of people during a deadly pandemic.”

Democrats boycotted the final committee vote, filling their seats instead with posters of ObamaCare recipients, implying a vote for Barrett would put those lives at risk.

During the whole childish circus, they insisted Trump had picked Barrett and sped up her confirmation just so she’d be seated in time to hear arguments in the case and dismantle the law. They didn’t bother to look at her record and examine her judicial philosophy — they assumed this well-qualified woman would be the president’s puppet.

In the second important decision, Fulton v. Philadelphia, the court ruled unanimously that the city violated the Constitution’s free exercise clause by suspending Catholic Social Services’ contract because the group wouldn’t certify same-sex couples as foster parents.

Yes, all nine justices ruled in favor of religious freedom — putting paid to Democratic complaints the court is out of balance with too many conservatives. It’s far from the only unanimous decision already this term, either. Every justice signed on to decisions written by Gorsuch, Breyer, Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor, with two of the cases involving immigration issues.

That people of varying political stripes can agree on the law shouldn’t come as a surprise. Supreme Court justices take their jobs seriously — which is more than you can say for Democrats charged with helping choose them.

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Opinion

The undying myth of GOP ‘obstructionism’

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The undying myth of GOP ‘obstructionism’

The media have spent the Joe Biden presidency thus far pressuring moderate Democrats to join the left’s efforts to destroy the filibuster.

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Opinion

Big Labor’s gift to itself and other commentary

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Big Labor's gift to itself and other commentary

Libertarian: Unions’ Gift to Themselves

Big Labor spent millions getting President Biden elected — and now it’s seeking to enact a law “directing federal power and resources to boost flagging” union rolls, laments Reason’s Eric Boehm. The so-called PRO Act “is a grab bag of Big-Labor agenda items that would extend some of California’s awful independent contractor regulations nationwide” and “abolish so-called right-to-work laws in the 27 states that have passed them.” Biden and the unions insist this is about empowering workers, “but if workers were as eager to join unions as [they] seem to think, they wouldn’t need a powerful federal bureaucracy to encourage that outcome.”

Centrist: United Supremes

The most striking aspect of the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on ObamaCare and religious liberty was the “absence of ideological divisions” from a high court that “Democratic leaders have declared hopelessly divided along ideological lines,” observes Jonathan Turley at USA Today. The largely united decisions mark “the final collapse of the false narrative that has been endlessly repeated like a mantra in Congress and the media.” Critics may continue to insist that the court is “dysfunctional, divided and needs to be radically changed,” but the justices aren’t “cooperating,” issuing instead an “inconvenient line of unanimous decisions.” Yet even as the court “seems to be saying a lot in one voice not just about the law, but about its own institution,” the media will undoubtedly continue to denounce it, “because politics demands it.”

Crime beat: A Wake-Up Call in Atlanta

The “mind-numbing randomness, brazenness and, even worse, casualness of violence afflicting Atlanta” has the upscale Buckhead neighborhood “wanting to break away from Atlanta to form its own city” with “its own police force,” writes The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Bill Torpy. Atlanta shootings are up 40 percent this year, but police often see “the same ne’er-do-wells walking the streets the next day,” thanks to a “broken” criminal-justice system. “Buckhead is almost three-quarters white,” yet “in black neighborhoods across the city, victims are widespread, and residents there want police to protect them, too.” But Buckhead can get attention, because its departure would “take away 40 percent of the city’s income.” It should be “one loud wake-up call.”

Culture critic: RIP, Janet Malcolm

At First Things, Helen Andrews assesses the complex legacy of veteran New Yorker magazine scribe Janet Malcolm, who died last week — and whose “cold, precise, unsparing” journalistic style recalled that of the great Russian writer Anton Chekhov. She was born to a psychiatrist father, and “psychoanalysis was a constant presence in Malcolm’s journalism.” The shrink’s couch formed her “eye for the telling detail” and “taught Malcolm a certain bleakness” about the world — and her own profession. Yet her “most famous line” — that “every journalist who is not too stupid or full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible” — helped spread cynicism about reporters. The result, Andrews laments, is that now “every trace of authenticity has been scrubbed from press interviews.” 

Media watch: Suppressing the Truth

“From the lab-leak theory to the Lafayette Square tear-gassing, anti-Trump bias blinded our news media,” declares Wilfred Reilly at Spiked Online. “Except perhaps for the Hunter Biden story,” there was no “potentially major and obviously newsworthy story more intensely suppressed than the lab-leak explanation for COVID’s origins,” but it was just “revealed quite possibly to be correct.” Pols and press called then-President Donald Trump “reckless” for touting hydroxychloroquine, yet “a major study” has found “it increases survival rates for COVID patients by almost 200 percent.” And the claim “Trump had ‘tear-gassed peaceful protesters’ ” to stage a photo-op turned out to be “complete nonsense.” Tellingly, all these facts only came out when Joe Biden became president. This “mainstream-media swiveling” causes “latent social distrust that has no imaginable upside.”

— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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