After months of lockdowns, masks, joblessness, anxiety, depression, virtual school, online meetings, closed businesses, no travel, and fear mongering, we finally have a vaccine which should be bringing hope for this holiday season. In addition, Congress finally decided to stop playing politics and address the needs of the American people by coming up with a $900 billion COVID stimulus package to help those of us here at home. Or so we thought.
When the U.S. House passed the bill, sending it to the Senate, one would think that it was good to see Democrats and Republicans finally working together to help out Americans. However, what it really showed was the same old tired political games of the pre-Trump era, and it had many conservatives siding with some Democrats, including traditional strong opponents such as New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib.
Many conservatives agreed with Ocasio-Cortez when she criticized the fact that lawmakers did not have time to read the more than 5,000 pages in the bill before required to vote on it. This brought back memories of the infamous “Obamacare” bill in which House Leader Nancy Pelosi said at the time lawmakers needed to pass the bill to see what was in it. Conservatives were astounded when Ocasio-Cortez sounded like them when she spoke of the new COVID relief bill, saying the people need to know what is in it and that Americans “deserve better.”
There are many good things in the bill that could be considered “extras” but actually benefit Americans. There was $4.25 billion for mental health and substance abuse programs, which is good because of the massive mental toll the virus has taken on individuals and families. Another was $100 million to combat elder abuse and neglect, considering many families have been unable to visit their elderly and dying loved ones in long-term care centers.
However, when it gets right down to helping the American people and the family, the bill offered a few carrot bits to a starving nation while politicians in both parties proudly patted themselves on the back after months of delays leading up to an election where the primary goal of Democrats and at least one-third of Republicans was to do anything necessary to remove President Donald Trump from office.
Representative Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii who many conservatives actually support, voted against the bill, saying it gave millions of dollars to special interests and foreign countries while telling Americans “here’s what’s left for you. You get $600 bucks.” She added that the meager amount isn’t even enough to cover a month’s rent for Americans that have been out of work for nearly a year because of lockdowns and restrictions.
Tlaib, who is loathed by conservatives, voted against the bill saying it didn’t go far enough and it was “woefully inadequate in addressing the needs of the people.”
Republican Senator Rand Paul called on President Trump to veto the bill and mocked his fellow GOP colleagues for their support of the wasteful spending portions of the bill. He added he shared the president’s frustration and that the money allocated needed to go to those who actually need the help.
Combine this fiasco to the fact that some are now indicating the world should continue wearing masks even after vaccines are given and that new strains of the virus are already in existence, we can be assured this ridiculous circus is far from over. Regardless of what the jokers in D.C. decide, it is clear there will be no relief from COVID for a long time to come.
Randy Gibson is the CEO of RDG Communications Group, LLC, and the former director of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce and the Texas State Rifle Association.