In a piece for The Washington Post, regular contributor Helaine Olen writes that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “is laughing at our nation’s suffering,” saying that his behavior in “response to the economic catastrophe that has resulted from the pandemic is full-on contempt for the suffering and needy.”
To that end, Olen points out that McConnell, during a debate against his Democratic rival Amy McGrath, actually laughed when McGrath excoriated him for not passing coronavirus relief legislation even after the Democratic House approved the HEROES Act in May.
“The House passed a bill in May and this Senate went on vacation,” McGrath said during Monday night’s debate. “I mean, you just don’t do that. You negotiate. Senator, it is a national crisis, you knew that the coronavirus wasn’t gonna end at the end of July. We knew that. If you want to call yourself a leader … you got to get things done and those of us who served in the marines, we don’t just point fingers at the other side. We get the job done.”
McConnell put the blame on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in his response, saying, “Look, I know how to make deals. I made three major deals with Joe Biden during the Obama era. What the problem is here is the unwillingness of the speaker to make a deal.”
“Most Americans think we need to do more to help people struggling as a result of the pandemic and the economic pain of lockdowns, shutdowns and social distancing mandates. And when I say “most,” I mean a large majority. Poll after poll shows Americans favor extending the $600-a-week unemployment supplement that was allowed to expire by the inaction of Senate Republicans,” Olen points out. “But as long as Republicans continue to control the Senate, it’s unlikely Americans will receive significant help.”
McConnell’s “pretend attempts at action” are successful in that “A majority of Americans believe both parties should share blame for the impasse. They believe it is the fault of both parties that people cannot receive the help they so desperately need,” Olen continues. She notes that the majority of Americans would like to see the Affordable Care Act remain in place and support increasing taxes for America’s wealthiest. She adds that Republicans have continued to pass up “chance after chance to deliver more pandemic aid” even as the crisis continues to grow, threatening ever more lives and livelihoods.
McConnell is so confident in his plans, Olen observes, that “he couldn’t even be bothered to fake empathy onstage for a few hours on Monday night.”
She concludes “that Americans will continue to get treated with contempt by politicians who claim to be acting on their behalf” so long as Republicans retain a majority in the Senate.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.