Tag Archives: COVID relief

Go it alone, Mr. President

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

If you put a gun to my noggin and forced me to make a prediction, I am likely to say that President Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress are on their own if they want to enact an infrastructure improvement package.

Biden is trying like the dickens to get Republicans to sign on. He is coming up empty.

The president has pitched a $2.25 trillion package. Republicans want to spend a lot less. Biden wants it to include job creation, climate change remedies and assistance to families. The GOP wants more emphasis on roads, bridges, airports, seaports.

They remain far apart.

Biden has been meeting with GOP Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia. They remain deadlocked.

Oh, what to do. I guess it well might fall on President Biden and Democrats in both congressional chambers to go it alone. Hey, they did it already with the COVID stimulus/relief package that Republicans resisted, only to then take credit for some of the programs it helped salvage.

Ayeee. It’s frustrating for those of us who want to see government work. We watch the president and congressional Democrats seeking to put government to work for us instead of against us. Then we watch Republicans dig in, resisting this and that, claiming that Democrats are playing “politics” with things such as, oh, the Jan. 6 commission that would find answers and solutions to the horrifying insurrection.

It occurs to me that Biden well might have offered a high-end proposal infrastructure knowing that Republicans would low-ball a counter-offer. Could it be that President Biden is aiming toward something in the middle, which is where he intended for this discussion to go?

That’s how you negotiate. If not, then I hope he and Democrats are ready to take off without their GOP friends.

‘Old man in a hurry’?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Leave it to the Brits to put American politics in some form of perspective that we might not always recognize on this side of The Pond.

A BBC broadcast on NPR this morning was talking about President Biden’s aggressive agenda. He sought, and received, a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. Now he is going after a $2.2 trillion infrastructure reform package that he wants enacted by the Fourth of July. Biden also is pressing hard for gun control legislation that doesn’t plow under the Second Amendment to our Constitution.

The British analyst — whose name escapes me at the moment — then offered a tart description of the president, calling him an “old man in a hurry.”

Well, there you go.

Joe Biden is by far the oldest man ever elected president. He is 78 years of age. He turns 79 in November. Were he to run for re-election in 2024, he would do so at the tender age of 82.

Why does this matter? Let’s see. It matters because President Biden knows — as someone who has buried two of his children — how fragile this Earthly existence can be. His infant daughter died in a horrific car crash in 1972 along with the first Mrs. Biden; his two sons were grievously injured in that tragic event.

The older of his sons then contracted glioblastoma — an aggressive form of brain cancer — and died in 2015 at the age of 46.

Joe Biden campaigned for the presidency partly by reminding us of his humanity and how he appreciates the fragility of our life on this good Earth.

In that context I presume you can say that time is no human being’s friend. Father Time becomes even more menacing to those of us who have logged the amount of time that Joe Biden has racked up already.

Just as Bill Clinton told us in the 1990s that the “era of big government is over,” Joe Biden has taken an entirely different approach. Big government must serve the people who pay for it, or so it appears to be when President Biden discusses the big things he wants done.

The backdrop, though, is indisputable. Joseph Biden Jr. is an old man who I hope with all my heart remains in good health. However, old men such as Joe Biden cannot depend fully on anything in life.

Yes, the president appears to be in a hurry. I cannot blame him for wanting to get things done … as in right now!

Polling data: What does it say?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Public opinion polling has been vilified over the course of recent election cycles, frankly for reasons that astound me.

Major public opinion polls actually had the 2016 presidential election called correctly when they had Hillary Clinton edging Donald Trump; they didn’t foresee the so-called “inside straight” that propelled Trump into the presidency on the basis of his narrow Electoral College victory.

They also called the 2020 presidential election correctly, giving Joe Biden a victory in both the ballot count and the Electoral College.

Still, the critics keep lambasting those polls.

Here we are today. President Biden pitched a massive COVID-19 relief bill that had significant public support. He got it enacted over the objection of every single Republican member of Congress … in both chambers!

Biden is back at it. He now has an even larger package on the table, a $2.25 trillion infrastructure reform package. The public response? Even greater than it was with the COVID relief package. The congressional Republican reaction? Precisely the same as the GOP resistance to lending a hand to those suffering from the economic wreckage brought by the pandemic.

Who, again, is on the right side?

It is looking to me as though the Republican congressional leadership and rank-and-file are not listening to the individuals they represent. They are ignoring the wishes of those who put them into office. The public favors rebuilding our roads, highways, bridges, ports (sea and air) and in buttressing our Internet broadband capability.

What’s going on here? Is the GOP political class listening exclusively to a narrow portion of its constituency? I am left to wonder if congressional Republicans will pay a political price when the midterm election rolls around next year.

They damn near should pay it!

Public opinion polling isn’t a perfect barometer of the national mood. However, it is far more accurate than its critics are wiling to admit. The GOP needs to pay attention.

Lesson learned from post-ACA debacle

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden, or more likely his White House team, has learned the lesson from an earlier legislative triumph that turned into a political debacle.

When Biden served as vice president in the Obama administration, he and President Obama’s team ramrodded through Congress a monumental legislative achievement: the Affordable Care Act. Biden famously whispered in Obama’s ear that its enactment was a “big f***ing deal.” And it was.

Obama then failed to sell the benefits of the ACA to the public. What happened then? Republicans took control of Congress in the 2010 midterm election, an event that President Obama described as a “shellacking.”

Fast-forward to this year. Biden has scored another huge victory with a massive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. Its aim is to help Americans suffering economically from the pandemic that still grips the nation.

But … the president, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses are fanning out for as long as it takes to talk directly to Americans about why this package also is a big … deal. They want to avoid the thumping that President Obama took after scoring a big win with the ACA. The 2022 midterms are coming up in short order.

I wish them well.

It isn’t ‘mislabeled!’

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texas two U.S. senators, Republicans Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, voted against the COVID-19 relief bill, they say, because it is “mislabeled.”

They contend that it is too full of money that seeks to satisfy liberal/progressive interest groups and political activists.

Pardon my Greek, but these two alleged legislative representatives are full of sh**. 

Is the bill the perfect remedy to help Americans back from the pandemic precipice? No. However, it does contain sufficient help for those who have suffered grievous economic hardship. Moreover, it sets aside money to continue the development of vaccines that are rolling out as we sit here that will help inoculate more of us against the virus.

How many ways do we have to explain how this process works to the ideologues/demagogues who populate the supposedly loyal opposition to President Biden?

I keep hearing the canard about how only 9 percent of the money goes directly to COVID-19 relief. That’s another crock of fecal matter. CNN.com provides a link that explains what is in the bill.

What’s in the Covid relief bill – CNNPolitics

If you look at the items lined out, you will understand that the word “directly” is critical. I concede that not all the funds go directly to aid with COVID-related relief. However, much of the money serves the purpose, such as nutrition aid, or housing aid, or tax credits for individuals and families.

The impact of the pandemic has been sweeping and it has hit Americans thoroughly. That is why President Biden insisted that Congress should “go big” in seeking relief for Americans. He settled on $1.9 trillion in relief. I get that it isn’t cheap. However, I am willing to endorse this notion because of my belief that the federal government should answer the call when emergency strikes.

Last time I gave it any thought, I consider the killer pandemic a first-rank national emergency that needs a proportional response.

Sens. Cruz and Cornyn — and the rest of their GOP colleagues in both congressional chambers — are on the wrong side of this debate.

POTUS keeps name off checks

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It is worth asking, I suppose, whether any American who receives a COVID-19 relief check from the U.S. Treasury is going to wonder why it lacks the name of the president of the United States, Joseph R. Biden.

I know the answer. No one is going to care whether President Biden’s name is on the check. Any more than Americans cared that Donald J. Trump’s name was affixed to the earlier round of relief checks that circulated.

Yet, the former president made a big deal out of ensuring that his name appeared on them. He wanted Americans to see that he was responsible for the help that arrived in their bank accounts or in their mail boxes.

Except that Donald Trump played virtually no role in negotiating the deal that helped millions of Americans.

His successor, Joe Biden, did play a role in crafting this current round of relief. However, his name will be nowhere on the payments.

That’s how collaborative government is supposed to work.

Keep talking, GOP hypocrites

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The checks are in the mail — so to speak.

At least a good number of “checks” are showing up this weekend in Americans’ bank accounts, thanks to President Biden and his Democratic Party allies in Congress, who worked to enact the COVID relief package over the strenuous objections of their Republican “friends” and colleagues.

But wait a minute.

Now comes word from around the country that Republican members of the House and the Senate are trying to take credit for something they opposed. I hear, for instance, that Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, one of the 50 Senate GOP “no” on the relief package, is heralding the benefit it will have on education in his state.

Yeah, keep talking Sen. Wicker. The voters in Mississippi ought to be wise to what’s up with him.

This kind of doublespeak occurs from time to time. Lawmakers who find themselves on the wrong side of public opinion look for ways to weasel their way into voters’ good graces. It turns out the COVID relief package totaling $1.9 trillion is quite popular with the masses out here. Eighty-plus percent of Democrats favor it and a slim majority of — gulp!Republican voters look kindly on the government relief effort.

None of that swayed the GOP cultists in Congress to sign on.

However, here they are, trying to glom onto the benefits being sent out en masse to those who have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. They have lost their jobs, not to mention lost their loved ones, to the disease. The package provides unemployment relief for the next several months and seeks to lessen the misery that has befallen so many millions of us.

What’s more, President Biden spoke to us the other evening and implored Americans to help in steering the nation away from the effects of the virus. “I need you,” he implored, which I consider to be a marvelous about-face from the “I, alone, can fix it” mentality offered by Donald John Trump.

However, don’t be fooled by the GOP fools who are trying to hoodwink Americans into thinking they played some role in bringing this relief to beleaguered pandemic victims.

Relief on its way

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden appears to be set to receive his first legislative triumph in the form of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that the U.S. Senate has just approved.

It has gone back to the House of Representatives, which will approve it once again, given its slim Democratic Party majority.

I want to stipulate a couple of points.

One is that the bill isn’t perfect. It contains some expenditures within the massive amount of money that really do not belong in legislation aimed at providing relief for Americans afflicted by the pandemic. It has killed more than 500,000 Americans and causing millions of others to lose their jobs.

Americans are hurting from this killer virus and the federal government needs to respond, given that every member of Congress as well as the president and vice president swear oaths to protect the citizens of this country.

As the saying goes and has been repeated all too often, it does no good to “let the perfect get in the way of the good.”

So, the legislation ain’t perfect, but it does do plenty of good.

It provides $300 a week in unemployment insurance for those who have lost their jobs; it provides $1,400 payments to individuals who earn less than a certain amount of money.

The bill that President Biden will sign — perhaps next week — lacks a $15 hourly minimum wage component, which is something congressional progressives insisted it contain. I figure the minimum range boost will end up eventually on Biden’s desk contained in another stack of legislation.

The most regrettable aspect of this legislation is that it is squeaking through Congress with just Democrats voting for it. The Senate vote was 50-49; Vice President Kamala Harris was poised to cast the tie-breaking vote, but one GOP senator, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, was absent from the roll call tally.

My own center-left philosophy hopes that Congress no longer will need to enact more measures to provide this kind of relief. I acknowledge that $1.9 trillion is a mighty hefty price tag and it gives me the nervous jerks to realize we are spending this kind of money that the government just doesn’t have in the bank.

But the president and most of Congress have answered the call. Those in Congress who have refused to lend aid to those who need it will have to deal with their consciences.

I am glad the COVID relief bill is heading toward the president’s desk. It isn’t perfect, but it does what it should be doing, which is to assist Americans who have fallen victim to the pandemic and the damage it has done.

Biden battles obstructionists

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Call me naive … I suppose.

My hope for President Biden was that he would parlay his 36 years of experience as a U.S. senator and eight years as vice president into a smooth governing machine once he settled into the Oval Office.

It’s not turning out that way.

The president is staking his legislative agenda on a COVID-19 relief bill that is aimed at bringing aid to a nation struggling against a killer virus. Congressional Republicans signaled their opposition to it. The $1.9 trillion bill passed the House on a largely partisan vote; it sits in the Senate and the president hopes it will clear that body, too.

However, it appears it will take a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris to clear the upper chamber.

Republicans still are steamed that Biden defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 election. They aren’t giving up the phony notion that Biden somehow “stole” it from Trump. He didn’t. President Biden won fair and square.

He is trying to get the Cabinet seated. GOP senators are holding up key picks for attorney general and health and human services secretary.

The AG nominee, Merrick Garland, has to get to work reassembling the Justice Department decimated by the Trump administration; moreover, he wants to commence a key investigation into the insurrection that occurred on Jan. 6. Oh, and HHS Secretary-designate Xavier Becerra needs to get that department ramped up and working to facilitate an end to the COVID virus that is still killing Americans.

President Biden thought he could get to work immediately. He thought he could broker the friendships he developed during his years in government into a working coalition. I guess he didn’t count on the hard feelings that translates into blind obstructionism.

I will cling to the hope that the president can bring his legislative acumen to bear.

Biden set to re-emerge

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

While many of us around the country were fixated on the Senate impeachment trial of Donald John Trump, his immediate successor as president was, shall we say, lurking in the shadows.

President Biden chose to do the smart thing. He said virtually nothing about Trump’s troubles in the Senate. The president blew off questions from reporters on the impeachment trial. He said the Senate would do its work; that the managers would do their work; he expressed next to zero interest in the trial.

I don’t believe much of that. I cannot possibly know how the president spent the bulk of his day, but I feel reasonably certain he had one eye on the trial even as he sought to gather support for the COVID relief package he is ramrodding through Congress.

What I do find refreshing, though, is the relative public silence that President Biden has maintained. It’s remarkable, too, given that Vice President Kamala Harris’s name emerged as a possible witness in the Trump trial; Trump’s legal team reportedly was interested in issuing a subpoena for the VP. The “why” of it, though, remains a mystery to me.

The trial is now over. Donald Trump is officially acquitted of the charge that he incited an insurrection. Our attention now can turn to actual governance, actual legislation, actual negotiation between the head of the executive branch of government and those who lead the legislative branch.

Trump’s future as an active politician, by my reckoning, is likely finished.

I intend to focus more attention on issues that matter and on the politicians who have a direct hand in determining the direction of this great country.