Two congresspeople, including AOC, threaten to delay passage of stimulus bill

March 27, 2020 • 11:00 am

I’ve pretty much written off Republicans, but among us Democrats there’s one annoying snake in the grass, a snake who goes by the monicker of AOC. Truly, I am amazed at the number of people who admire her, and even suggest she’d make a good president. I see her as having some good positions. and is generally on the right side of issues (even though her solutions are often ludicrous), but someone who’s not that bright, and is following a script laid out by the Justice Democrats, who recruited her to run for Congress. I also believe she’s an anti-Semite and somewhat of a narcissist—as well as a social-media “influencer” along the lines of Trump. And now she (along with a Republican in the House) is threatening passage of the stimulus bill (see also here).

Passage of largest ever American relief bill could be delayed. 

With many lawmakers scattered around the country, House leaders will attempt on Friday to pass the $2 trillion economic stabilization plan by voice vote, but the plan could be delayed a day if any lawmaker insists on a recorded vote.

At least one Democrat and one Republican have suggested they might do so.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan for a voice vote is highly unusual for a measure of such consequence. Leaders settled on it so that lawmakers who wanted to speak could make their views known and others would not be required to be physically present.

But there is a risk: Technically, the House cannot legislate without the presence of a quorum, defined by the Constitution as a simple majority. (The House currently has 430 members; 216 are required for a quorum.) If even one member asserted that the House lacked a quorum and called for a recorded vote, the House would have to cease its business until 216 lawmakers arrived.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, warned on Wednesday that she might do so. Representative Thomas Massie, Republican of Kentucky, has also hinted that he might try to slow the bill’s passage, stoking anger among fellow lawmakers.

“If you intend to delay passage of the #coronavirus relief bill tomorrow morning, please advise your 428 colleagues RIGHT NOW so we can book flights and expend ~$200,000 in taxpayer money to counter your principled but terribly misguided stunt,” Representative Dean Phillips, Democrat of Minnesota, wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

This will not endear Ocasio-Cortez to Nancy Pelosi or AOC’s home-state Senator Chuck Schumer, both of whom are supporting a voice vote that won’t require the Congress to be physically present at the Capitol.  AOC’s opposition to the bill, and desire to delay its passage, comes from her view that it gives too much to corporations. But the bill will pass, and AOC is making trouble as a kind of juvenile tantrum, something she’s quite adept at.

56 thoughts on “Two congresspeople, including AOC, threaten to delay passage of stimulus bill

    1. I do not like the stimulus package for the same reason as AOC – it gives too damn much to big corporations, and not enough to Americans.
      Most of these hotshot corporations could stop giving insane bonuses to hideously rich mobsters and “hunker down” just like we have to, but the Rapepublicans HAVE to give welfare to the big donors, and screw the Middle Class and poor.
      I am sure the Repub was wanting to stop it because it gave money to ordinary americans.

    1. Indeed. However, it’s worth noting that the Republicans in Oregon have played similar games with the quoracy rules in the state’s Legislative Assembly. The Dems have a supermajority, so their legislation can’t be voted down in the usual way, but the Republicans have deliberately travelled out of the state to render meetings inquorate. This is the second year that they have adopted this tactic. Democracy at its finest!

      1. As I recall, Texas statehouse Democrats pulled the same trick a number of years ago, repairing to Ardmore, OK.

  1. Just an aside …

    The FY2020 budget for FedGov was thrumming alone as:

    Spend 4.5 Trillion,
    Collect 3.5 Trillion,
    Borrow 1.0 Trillion.

    Now, we are writing checks for 2.0 Trillion.

    There’s nothing about raising taxes to pay. Additionally, FedGov is injecting Untold Trillions of fiat money into the system from the back end.

    Holy Jammoly. I can’t even do the math.

    When enterprise is shut down by decree, tax revenues fall through the floor like the China Syndrome. Both sides of aisle know that THAT is the real emergency.

    Yes, empathy for the suddenly unemployed, but wow, insolvency of FedGov to pay SS/Medicare/Military/Courts.

    Hurry up and stimulate, by any means, to get the tax income going again. This is why they are acting fast and unilaterally.

    1. Since you’re a good libertarian, I am not surprised that you are disturbed by the fact that the current stimulus legislation will significantly increase the national debt. The fact that many people will suffer and die without this legislation is merely unfortunate collateral damage. After all, what can be more important than the free market? Also, as a good libertarian, you are once again in the minority. As Neil Irwin writes in the NYT, this legislation is necessary to stave off long-term economic damage. As Irwin says: “The very large deficits on the way in 2020 are more likely to leave the United States in a better fiscal situation for the years ahead than an alternative in which the government is more tightfisted but fails to prevent the widespread collapse of American businesses or help workers in desperate financial straits.” Economists of varying political ideologies agree with this statement.

      1. {rejecting fatuous labeling, accusation of sociopathic motive to me, smarmy attitude and Appeal to Dubious Authority NYTimes}

        I didn’t say it was unnecessary. I made a completely different claim. That the real urgency is this: shutoff of incoming FedGov revenue. When people do not work because business is shut down, the enormous tide of incoming payroll taxes from the business owners and workers comes to a screeching halt.

  2. Also, why on Earth do we still require Congress to physically meet to establish quorum? It’s 2020 and video conferencing has existed for over 20 years now. Entire universities are carrying out all classes and meetings over video chat. Why can’t Congress do the same?

    1. A single member can demand a quorum be present, which Rep. Tom Massie (R-Ky) has threatened to do. So now we have hundreds of Congresspeople rushing back to D.C. to crowd together in the room and vote. Apparently video conferencing is too high-tech for them.

  3. On another related topic, people have commented to me on the how conspicuous the silence is from movie starts/Hollywood to this crisis.

    Not only they, but many social justice warriors (including those of the right) seem to have gone very quiet.

    Both Trump and the people above revel in “narrative”. And this is no narrative, it’s beyond that. Except that Trump unravels, in contrast to the silence of the usually garrulous.

    1. I haven’t noticed particular silence: i’ve seen lots of videos and posts, from Tom Hanks to Gal Gadot and others, urging self-confinement, handwashing, etc. It would be unlike Hollywood people to shut up right now, I think.

  4. Robert Reich disagree with you:

    “Kudos to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for calling out Senate Republicans for putting corporations ahead of the American people. She’s absolutely right. The coronavirus stimulus package is a huge sop to those at the top, leaving very little for ordinary Americans caught in this horrendous pandemic.”

    1. I’m sure a lot of people disagree with me, but Reich is wrong. The bill has been agreed on by all Dems in the Senate and nearly all in the House. It will pass. AOC is just trumpeting her virtue and delaying the stimulus, as well as making all the lawmakers fly across the country to pass something in the same form it would have passed anyway.

    2. And it’s not as though the Republicans are the only ones trying to insert things into the stimulus bill that serve their political interests and constituencies or are otherwise unrelated: changes to environmental law, requiring all companies receiving stimulus money to employ diversity & inclusion officers and fund diversity & inclusion initiatives for 5 years, etc. Are they putting ideology ahead of the American people?

      I’m not sure what made it into the final bill, though.

      1. Considering that McConnell won’t even give House bill a chance to even be discussed in the Senate, adding bits to bills like this bailout one are the only way Dems can do anything these days at the federal level. I think they have to fight back this way even if we would prefer such things not to happen in a perfect government. There may be objections to the particular bits that were added but those get discussed and negotiated. That said, I’m generally more in favor of the environmental ones than the diversity ones.

    3. She’s only 30, and entirely new to this all. I cut her lots of slack. More than some of Congress who either coast or grif their way through.

  5. What are some of the details in the stimulus bill regarding money to businesses and corporations? I think the argument from Republicans is that without robust support they will have to close and lay off people. Money to working people arrives that way too.

  6. AOC makes a good point. In order to provide necessary equipment for hospitals and front-line workers, we have to allow corporate greed. Billions carved out specifically for Boeing, for instance. Corporations with the slickest lobbyists gorge at the trough first.

    1. I would’ve liked to have heard why she’s wrong in this case, rather than taking it as read that she is. I’m not a fan of hers but I don’t think she tends to engage in juvenile tantrums in grave situations like this. She doesn’t seem the type.

      1. Sorry that I’m not answering according to what you want to see! She’s blocking a bipartisan bill that everybody but she and one Republican wants to vote on. Her acting out won’t change that. And yes, she is the type to pull these narcissistic gestures; she’s been doing it since she was elected.

      2. @ Saul Sorrell-Till

        Her main objection is that the heart of the bill is massive bailouts for corporations, with crumbs for families, and shortchanging hospitals and health workers who need it most. But that’s the country we live in and she realizes it. She still thought a $2T bill deserved debate.

        1. As I understand it,the money to businesses includes large and small, and is described by Republicans as being necessary to help keep them open so they don’t have to lay off everybody. I don’t see how that is wrong.

          1. BTW, Trump just signed the bill. He also just triggered the Defense Production Act in order to get GM to make ventilators. Perhaps Trump is getting more presidential! Nah.

              1. Agreed but that’s what the DPA was for in the first place. I don’t know the details but it wouldn’t surprise me if GM was objecting to not having a guarantee of payment. Trump was trying to get them to make the masks out of the goodness of their hearts or because Trump said to. If so, it is not too surprising if GM wouldn’t play ball. I am purely speculating though.

            1. Last I checked, people get money to support themselves by having a salary from a job from a business, even a Big Corporation. Those businesses need to pay their bills, pay their suppliers, and pay their workers to stay open. Its not like a fat old man puffing a cigar is going to just pocket the check.

              1. Unless it was the CEO, having made poor decisions leading to the bailout, now needs to be paid his or her golden parachute. Of course, that doesn’t apply to the COVID-19 bailout unless, of course, the CEO got the disease and made everyone sick.

  7. It appears in the end that AOC didn’t call for a quorum, but Massie did. Actions speak louder than words.

  8. AOC craves attention and is a bit too far left on many things by my tastes, but she has separated herself from the other members of The Squad and has abandoned Bernie for Biden. I don’t think she’s dumb but definitely green. She’s net positive in my book but wrong in this case.

    1. She’s still with the squad on supporting BDS, which is an antisemitic initiative. And she’s said she’ll support Biden IF HE’S THE NOMINEE, as I recall, not that she supports him now.

  9. Here’s what NN Taleb wrote on the bailing out (March 26):

    [citing the 2008 crisis] The asymmetry (moral hazard) and what we call optionality for the bankers can be expressed as follows: heads and the bankers win, tails and the taxpayer loses. Furthermore, this does not count the policy of quantitative easing that went to inflate asset values and increased inequality by benefiting the super rich. Remember that bailouts come with printed money, which effectively deflate the wages of the middle class in relation to asset values such as ultra-luxury apartments in New York City.

    I agree. There are more conservative “think tanks” than germs on a toilet seat at a truck stop. When I see bailout bills like these, I see their ideology imploding into a kaleidoscopic fractal of “not even wrong” on multiple dimensions at once. It’s a mindbending recursive pattern of not-even-wrongness.

    I saw nothing of AOC even remotely near Biden-league cringe comedy. She doesn’t seem to go around to rub shoulders and sniff hairs; tell an astonished audience how kids stroked her hairy legs and how she enjoys them jumping in her lap — to name a few examples. She’s not even a minor saint next to the “God of the Gaffes” Joe Biden, who is also actually responsible for questionable political actions, and obviously a blatant liar when asked about it. Of course, Biden is nowhere near Republican level of gaffes, criminality, corruption, greed and hypocrisy.

    I don’t know AOC all that well, but liked what I saw, and also see how she‘s The Rights favourite subect. They make this entertaining show about belittling her, yet obviously take her very seriously.

    1. I don’t see bailouts as such a bad thing but they need to be done right to be effective. The ones Obama put in place in 2008 we done right, as far as I know. I haven’t read a complete analysis but supposedly the government made back its money with interest. I’m all for watching out for the little guy and gal but they aren’t helped when large corporations go under and they lose their jobs.

      I’m with you on not having the federal government giving money to people who are already rich. I’m certainly happy the bill Trump signed today prevents him, his family and cronies from taking money.

      I also share your horror when a company gets bailed out and then the CEO that made all the wrong decisions gets a golden parachute that makes them super-rich. However, those are contractual commitments and the company would get sued if they didn’t follow through. I suspect the stockholders and members of company’s board also hate these huge exit payments.

      CEO compensation is totally out of whack, IMHO. No way are these CEOs so much better than lower management that they should get such huge compensation. However, I see that as having nothing to do with bailouts. We need laws that reward companies for compensating ALL their employees when they make a profit.

      1. Indeed, but it‘s not-even-wrong on so many levels because even if we strip away the reasons you gave, it also flies into the face of what the exact same clique are preaching — for everyone else.

        And then they are paid the fantastillions ostensibly because they have superhuman skills in such things as “risk management”. But that turns out to be “taxpayer funded”. It works rather well, thanks to lobby pressure (i.e. corruption). They are perversely justified in getting their bonus as they indeed successfully risk-managed damages away by making the taxpayers empty out their pockets. It’s quite comical.

        It’s like you hire someone on the condition he’s is really good at his job. Then a plot twist: his actual job is conning people like you. Now since he is really good at it, he wants money from you, and you pay, because he’s good at this and the evidence is that you actually pay.

        1. Sure but I don’t see it as the fault of evil corporations. They have to pay their CEOs high salaries in order to hire them. If they set a lower wage, they could probably still hire someone with the necessary skills but their stockholders would invest in them less relative to their competition. Hiring that top-dollar person attracts investment just as hiring an expensive player attracts fans to the sports stadium. It is all a serious game that they really don’t have a choice but to play. It really takes governmental action as they set the playing field but the government, especially Republicans, don’t want to interfere. There is no easy solution. The Dems haven’t proposed any that would even come close to fixing the real problem. They are mostly proposals meant to appeal to their voters who don’t know economics at the level of detail necessary to solve this problem.

    1. Yes we do, even if it is much too little and undoubtedly too late for the needlessly dead and the many who are the dying.

    2. Apparently GM had already started to produce ventilators, even without a contract, before Trump ordered them to do what they were already doing.
      It looks to me that GM had offered a reasonable price, but Jared wanted the the credit for chiseling down the price, so he rejected the deal. No, Trump does not deserve any credit here. I have also seen a report that the one good thing Trump did – restricting travel from China – was resisted by him and done only after great pressure from his heath team advisors, so he might not deserve much credit there either. I do give him credit for spinning the news so his approval rating have gone up despite his disasterous performance.

    3. Do we believe that tRump twisted GM’s arm into producing ventilators? Or was this someone else’s doing or something GM was going to do anyway and tRump is just taking the credit?

      Exactly as, I’m sure, he’ll take the credit for any positives from this stimulus bill?

      Maybe I’m unduly cynical, but it would be easier to give credit where credit is due if tRump hadn’t already loudly grabbed all the credit for everything imaginable.


  10. John Cochrane is a conservative economist and makes a similar case.

    Bailouts reward stockholders, bondholders and creditors. Letting a large company go into chapter 11 doesn’t mean the company stops functioning. Instead, it continues trading and is reorganized.

    Of course there is still lots of disruption. And we are in uncharted territory. The current plan might be the best one, no one will ever know. So it can always be hugely criticized.

  11. The bill passed. I’ll be spending the better part of the weekend reading up on what it does for small businesses.

  12. I’m not sure bailing out corporations actually helps.

    Basically, what you have with Covid-19 is a substantial and sudden drop in demand, which means a drop in production, which shuts down your big industries.

    The thing is – bailing out the big industries does not guarantee job protection, because you still have that drop in demand.

    If you’re paying people for nothing, you’re making a smaller profit than someone who isn’t doing that.

    They’re effectively shut down anyway – so them having more money doesn’t really incentivise them to not slash jobs.

    Particularly if their projection is a slow market post shutdown, and that I think is the bigger worry.

    A far better approach I think is giving more cash to individuals, thus meaning that when the shutdown ends they go out and buy more stuff, thus creating a post-shutdown rush.

    The money still ends up in the hands of business at the end of the day, but this way there is at least a reason not to engage in lay-offs.

    1. I think that a company that takes a bailout will risk extremely bad PR if they lay off people or use the money in ways that the public don’t like. If a company wants to lay off people, they would be wise not to take the fed’s money.

  13. 1. It may or may not be true that AOC is not very bright. I wonder though whether people who subscribe to this belief apply it consistently to other House Reps in the Congress. It could be an interesting exercise to pull up the entire list of US congressmen/women and spend an afternoon going through their views and past comments and then pegging AOC’s supposed stupidity in relation to theirs.

    2. It is interesting that the thing that really makes people upset is the “tantrum” that AOC threw. I wonder whether these same people get worked up about what an unfair corporate giveaway this stimulus bill is; how unbelievably loaded it is in favour of corporations who (through lobbyists and politicians) would like to tell workers and poor people to be responsible and live within their means; but themselves spent the last several years irresponsibly lavishing their share-holders with stock buybacks and dividends. I wonder what might be the appropriate target to direct our collective outrage here? Some mouthy lady from New York that some people don’t like; or the masters of the Industry that virtually run our world and who are responsible for causing the highest level of income inequality and needless pain and suffering in decades?

    3. I have noticed the proprietor of this website rue occasionally that the readership tends to engage much more with the more superficial content / easy blog posts, but less so with well-researched scientific content. I wonder whether the impulse to express outrage at easy political targets that we don’t like instead of doing the hard work to understand the real deep-rooted consequences of such policies mirrors this same tendency. If I may suggest a good journalist to read on this beat, it would be David Dayen of the American Prospect. It would not be as easy as reading some superficial commentary on CNN or some outraged tweets on Twitter; but it would educate and inform the audience.

    1. Ah, a fine example of “whaboutery”. Of course there are congresspeople dumber than AOC, but she has the highest profile of all first-term congresspeople. And yes, of course the Dems objected to corporate bailouts, but in this case that’s no reason to threaten to derail a rare bipartisan agreement, which, as far as I can see, is in the net good rather than bad. There is no way AOC was going to get her way on the contents of this bill.

      Your arrogance and self-styled superiority, as well as the whataboutery, is annoying. As is your call for us to go through the entire list of Congress to justify the claim that AOC is dumb. I also mentioned that I see her as a closet anti-Semite. In that she’s of a piece with most of the other members of the “squad.” But of course you didn’t call for us to go through Congress to see who’s taken anti-Semitic actions, like calling for support of BDS.

      And I accept the readers’ statements that they like the science posts but don’t have much to say about the contents because they’re not scientists. It would take years of biology instruction to develop the expertise to comment as experts on them, while with politics we’re all pretty much equally “expert” or “nonexpert.”

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