Good piece on why the Party of Ideas (TM) cannot establish any kind of COVID response even when it’s sabotaging its own party’s grip on power:
This is the strange truth of 2020: The dynamic in Congress is virtually identical to what we saw in 2010. Democrats want more economic support; they passed a $3.5 trillion bill in the House in May. Republicans don’t, and they’ve refused to act on the House bill, or offer an alternative that reflects the size of the crisis — the main feature of the $1 trillion HEALS Act is that it cuts the expanded unemployment benefits in an attempt to push people back to work, even though the virus is anything but controlled.
Worse, in the absence of an agreement, they’ve let the provisions from previous packages expire or run out of money, draining aid from workers and businesses that remain under lockdown and now face poverty or bankruptcy. The total failure of governance is matched by a bizarre absence of urgency: McConnell could hold round-the-clock sessions in an attempt to strike a deal. Instead, the Senate is adjourned until September.
What’s baffling is that Republicans are running this strategy while they are in the majority. Donald Trump is president of the United States, and Mitch McConnell is Senate majority leader. They carry the burden of governance, and they will bear the blame for failure. If polls are to believed, both of them are likely to lose those jobs come November. What, after all, is the case for reelecting a Republican Party that has no coherent policy response to a virus that Europe and Asia have managed to control, or to an economy in free fall? “GOP 2020: More of this!” is not a winning slogan when 70 percent of Americans say the country is on the wrong track.
Politically, the Republican Party’s current approach is so self-sabotaging that I figured I must be missing something. Someone must have a plan, a theory, an alternative. Chaos is Trump’s brand, but surely McConnell won’t walk passively back into the minority. And so I began asking Republican Hill staffers and policy experts for correction. What wasn’t I seeing? What was the GOP’s policy theory right now? What do Republicans actually want?
I posed these questions to Tea Party conservatives, populist reformers, and old-line Reaganites. The answer, in every case, was the same. Different Republican senators have different ideas, but across the party as a whole, there is no plan. The Republican Party has no policy theory for how to contain the coronavirus, nor for how to drive the economy back to full employment. And there is no plan to come up with a plan, nor anyone with both the interest and authority to do so. The Republican Party is broken as a policymaking institution, and it has been for some time.
Of the four explanations offered, I think #2 is the most important and am most skeptical of #1. This is much, much deeper than Trump. After all, he’d sign any relief bill put on his desk and McConnell can’t even be bothered to participate in the negotiations most of the time.