We made it to the final week of 2020! That's quite an accomplishment, given what transpired this year. Brad & Desi are taking a much-needed year-end break, so it's NICOLE SANDLER guest hosting The BradCast, for the next few days. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]
It used to be that this time of year, especially the week between Christmas and New Years, was what was known as a "slow news" time. We haven't even had a slow news day in the past four years, so why break with tradition now? Since we haven't been here with new programs since December 23, I began today's show with a recap of what happened since.
Donald Trump had been missing in action since the November 3 election in terms of working on the pressing issues of the day --- a COVID relief bill and the year-end funding bill for the U.S. Government. Together they make up the Consolidation Appropriations Act of 2020 (CAA). And then there was the matter of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that had been passed but Trump hadn't yet signed.
When Brad last spoke with you, he reported that Congress, on Monday, passed a $900 billion coronavirus relief package along with the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill to keep the government funded through September of 2021, by huge veto-proof margins in both houses. And on Tuesday, Trump awakened from his stupor to call the bill "a disgrace" --- despite it including much of what he himself had asked for --- and demand the payments to individuals be $2000 rather than the $600 his administration had proposed! He had other demands but, as usual, he was confused, conflating things in the COVID relief bill with provisions from his own budget that were contained in the omnibus portion of the bill. But I digress. He threatened to veto the bill or worse, do nothing. In that case, it would just die, with Congress unable to override a pocket veto before the new Congress is seated on January 3, and the entire process to pass the bill must begin again.
On Wednesday, Trump vetoed the NDAA, ostensibly for two reasons: it would require the military to rename bases that were named after figures from the Confederacy and because it doesn't include a repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Act, which shields internet companies from liability for what is posted on their websites by them or third parties.
And then he boarded Air Force One, to spend the holidays at his Palm Beach resort Mar-a-Lago.
To reiterate: while most of the country is suffering, waiting for help to make it through the worst crisis in our lifetimes, Trump was sitting on relief checks, unemployment benefits, an eviction moratorium and rental aid from his Mar-a-lago resort in Palm Beach. At the same time, Vice President Mike Pence is on a skiing vacation in Vail, Colorado, and Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin took a private jet down to his vacation home in a Mexican resort near Cabo.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day came and went, as did the Saturday midnight deadline when pandemic relief programs lapsed, throwing more than 12 million Americans who relied on them for unemployment insurance and more into an even worse situation than they had been in already.
Trump finally gave in and signed the CAA on Sunday evening, but additional damage had already been done. As for the master negotiator, he's more like an impetuous child who threw a temper tantrum and then got tired of being locked in his room so he gave up, and got nothing out of it.
That brings us to today. The House is back in session to vote on two items --- a bill changing the dollar amount of the individual checks to be sent out from $600 to $2000 and to override Trump's NDAA veto. As I am posting today's show, the vote on the $2000 checks has now passed with the 2/3 required under the procedures that were used for consideration, 275-134.
The House then voted by an even bigger margin to override Trump's NDAA veto. That vote was 322-87! Tomorrow, the Senate returns to vote on these two bills. The question is whether Mitch McConnell will bring the issue of the larger direct COVID relief payments to the floor.
Senator Bernie Sanders issued a statement demanding a vote: "The House has passed a $2,000 direct payment for working people. It is time for the Senate to act. This week on the Senate floor Mitch McConnell wants to vote to override Trump's veto of the $740 billion defense funding bill and then head home for the New Year. I'm going to object until we get a vote on legislation to provide a $2,000 direct payment to the working class. Let me be clear: If Senator McConnell doesn't agree to an up or down vote to provide the working people of our country a $2,000 direct payment, Congress will not be going home for New Year's Eve. Let's do our job."
Now that a Democrat will be in power in the White House in a few short weeks, the Republicans in Congress are once again singing their austerity tune. Many are objecting to a $2000 payment saying "we can't afford it" or some similar nonsense. So I'm joined by economist, professor, a leading proponent of Modern Monetary Theory, and author of The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People's Economy STEPHANIE KELTON, who explains that not only can we afford to help people suffering through this crisis, we must!...
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