Republican Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy says he’s never seen anything like it. Senate Democrats, for two days in a row, blocked a bill designed to jump-start the American economy which has mostly come to a complete stop as a result of measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
“We think we know how to get the economy back on its feet in the next 60 to 90 days until we can get control of the virus, but some of my colleagues, they’re just throwing in every special interest, political want, not need, thinking they can ram it through because we’re too scared to vote against it and it’s just wrong,” said Kennedy.
Democrats, at the last minute, loaded the economic stimulus bill with things like same-day election registration, requiring companies to hire diversity officers, provisions giving Big labor unprecedented collective bargaining powers, tighter emission standards, and the expansion of wind and solar power. These are all things that will do nothing to stimulate the economy. In fact, they do the complete opposite.
“It’s basically they want the green new deal and they’re saying if the Republicans don’t endorse it, we’re going to strangle the American people economically,” said Kennedy.
Republicans and Democrats spent several days negotiating the stimulus bill and there seemed to be an agreement in place. But then five GOP members were unable to vote on the bill on Sunday or Monday after being quarantined due to the coronavirus. As a result, Democrats took advantage and loaded the legislation with far-left measures they couldn’t otherwise get through. Republicans didn’t bite.
“For a small segment of our population it’s true the coronavirus can kill you, for a small segment,” said Kennedy. “But you know what else can kill you? Poverty. Hunger. Losing the entire economy.”
Meanwhile, University of Louisiana at Lafayette professor of economics Gary Wagner says he’s never seen so much uncertainty in the state’s economy.
“Louisiana’s economy has already been on the brink of recession for the last 12 months,” said Wagner. "We’re particularly vulnerable at this point.”
Unemployment insurance applicants are already 30 times higher than usual in Louisiana. The longer the economy is shut down, the higher that number will go. Congress is running out of time to do something. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Louisiana’s unemployment rate already stood at 5.7%, much higher than the U.S. rate at 3.8%. So yes, we are especially vulnerable.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about abandoning ideology and political agendas and instead working together to focus singularly on defeating the virus. Now is not the time for politics we’re told. In a perfect world that would be nice. But this past weekend underscored the fact that Democrats and Republicans hold two vastly different worldviews when it comes to resurrecting our economy during this unprecedented crisis in our nation’s short history. Democrats apparently believe tighter regulations on businesses will help. Or maybe they don’t believe that at all but see this as an opportunity to appease their special interests like Big Labor and Big Environment.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has wisely shut down our state’s economy until April 13 by putting restrictions in place that have temporarily closed the doors of most businesses. Containing the virus must be the priority right now. But doing so comes with a heavy cost with thousands now out of work and many wondering how they’ll feed their families in the days ahead. Many small business owners fear the longer the economy remains shuttered, the better the chance they may never open again.
“I get politics. I have been around it my whole life. But we need to stop thinking about the next election and try to think a little more about the next generation and what we’re going to leave for them, which is going to be the little end of nothing if we let this economy collapse. It’s avoidable but we don’t have months, we have days,” said Kennedy.
Email Dan Fagan at Faganshow@gmail.com Twitter: @DanFaganShow.