Biden

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks after meeting President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss a coronavirus relief package, in the Oval Office of the White House Monday. Listening are from left, Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Todd Young, R-Ind., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

Maybe it won’t work, but we’re just delighted at the sit-down in the Oval Office with a president and senators of the opposing party.

A respectful two hours of give-and-take over the dimensions of coronavirus aid and the direction that the money should flow was surely healthy.

Again, it might not work. Republicans in the Senate, including Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy, remain far apart from President Joe Biden on key points. The Senate’s slim Democratic majority can’t and won’t wait forever on handwringing from the minority.

On some things, we believe the Republican outlines are right although there is little doubt that the eventual package coming from Congress will be larger than the paltry initial GOP offering.

Further, the GOP fails to grasp one critical point on which Cassidy is right and most of his party are wrong: Aid to state and local governments is desperately needed.

From many Republican leaders, all we get is scorn for local government. Thomas Jefferson is spinning in the ground at Monticello, because he believed that government closest to the people works best; the party leaders who are his ideological heirs, in that sense, nevertheless trash “blue state” spendthrifts.

Because Cassidy knows how profoundly the tourism collapse has hit New Orleans and Louisiana, he is of a different view. We hope his perspective prevails.

We don’t know what the overall answers are to the debate now going on in the Capitol. The president wants to fulfill his campaign pledge of an additional $1,400 check to individuals, but eligibility is negotiable. By and large, better extending unemployment supplements into the fall, perhaps September, seems to make more sense as a use of borrowed money. That’s more stimulus, really, than checks that many people just put in the bank.

And some of the Republicans are quite right to point out that this is deficit spending, even if there is hypocrisy in their ranks: They were more than happy to balloon the deficit with tax breaks and their own notions of proper spending priorities, when President Donald Trump was in office.

Late-blooming deficit hawks are scrawny barnyard roosters, whose crowing cannot be taken seriously on that point.

But a more serious question is whether every Democratic priority under the sun can be part of a budget reconciliation bill that includes the coronavirus relief. The minimum wage, for example, should be clearly out of bounds according to the rules. Many senators seem to agree.

We think one of Biden’s big selling points to the voters was that he would restore respect and orderly processes to the Capitol. That may be too much to ask in a harshly partisan atmosphere.

But legislating major policy changes in a process pitched as an emergency response to an immediate crisis clearly isn’t in the spirit of the Biden campaign's appeal to wavering Republican voters last fall.

All that said, who didn’t like the scene in the Oval Office? The harsh partisans of both parties, the ideologues, the cynical.

We thought it was the way politics and policy should work.

Our Views: Louisiana's cities and towns deserve more COVID-19 relief than they got