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There are no good Republicans in Congress

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Here’s a trip down Sensible, Reasonable Republican memory lane:

The one rain in the wedding day is that the president she resolutely supports tanking the economy will destroy whatever chance she had of being re-elected.

And it’s not just Trump who doesn’t want Democrats to help him if too much of the stimulus goes to things materially related to the pandemic rather than tax cuts, it’s the Republican conference as a whole:

His big idea for the economy is a complete payroll tax holiday. According to Bloomberg News, he told Republican senators that he wanted the holiday to extend “through the November election so that taxes don’t go back up before voters decide whether to return him to office.” That is, he apparently said the quiet part out loud.

This would be an enormous move. Payroll taxes are 5.9 percent of G.D.P.; by comparison, the Obama stimulus of 2009-2010 peaked at about 2.5 percent of G.D.P. Yet it would be very poorly targeted: big breaks for well-paid workers, nothing for the unemployed or those without paid sick leave.

Why do it this way? After all, if the goal is to put money in people’s hands, why not just send out checks? Apparently Republicans can’t conceive of an economic policy that doesn’t take the form of tax cuts.

Trump also reportedly wants to provide aid to specific industries, including oil and shale — a continuation of his administration’s efforts to subsidize fossil fuels.

Democrats, by contrast, have proposed a package that would actually address the needs of the moment: free coronavirus testing, paid sick leave, expanded unemployment benefits and an increase in federal matching funds for Medicaid programs, which would both help states meet the demands of the crisis and sustain overall spending by relieving the pressure on state budgets.

Notice, by the way, that these measures would help the economy in an election year, and therefore arguably help Trump politically. But Democrats are willing to do the right thing anyway — a stark contrast to the behavior of Republicans after the 2008 financial crisis, when they offered scorched-earth opposition to anything that might mitigate the damage.

The White House, however, is having none of it, with an official accusing Democrats of pushing a “radical left agenda.” I guess sick leave equals socialism, even in a pandemic.

What could possibly go wrong?

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