Ignoring Republican intransigence, CNN anchor asks, “Is it time for Democrats to blink” on coronavirus aid

While Democrats have passed bills, Erica Hill asks: “So, why hasn't Congress stepped in?”

CNN’s coverage Tuesday morning of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic falsely depicted the recent loss of extended federal unemployment benefits as caused by Democratic inaction and lack of compromise, rather than delays by Republicans and even segments of their party opposing further economic stimulus.

“So, why hasn't Congress stepped in? Why has Congress not passed another stimulus bill?” guest co-anchor Erica Hill asked rhetorically on New Day. She also said to one of the guests: “You can't help but ask the question, you know, is it time for Democrats to blink? Is it time for them to say, ‘OK, fine?’”

In fact, House Democrats passed a comprehensive relief package all the way back in May, known as the Heroes Act. Senate Republicans waited to engage with this proposal: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) did not unveil the Republican plan until the last week of July and then included only roughly one-third of the aid spending covered by the Democrats’ bill. In addition, The Wall Street Journal reported that Senate Republicans were split over whether to pursue continued stimulus measures, with possibly even half of the caucus opposing McConnell’s bill.

Furthermore, Democratic negotiators already offered a compromise this past Friday, when they lowered the cost of their proposal down to $2 trillion, halfway between the Heroes Act amount and that of the Republican proposal — which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called a “nonstarter.” Trump then signed a series of executive orders that are arguably unconstitutional, and he is also proposing to permanently cut the tax that funds Social Security and Medicare.

However, mainstream media outlets continue to cover this legislative impasse with a baseless narrative that Democrats are failing to compromise, or by offering a both-sides portrayal in which “both Congress and the president, Democrats and Republicans,” are to blame.

Video file

Citation From the August 11, 2020, edition of CNN’s New Day

ERICA HILL (GUEST CO-ANCHOR): The coronavirus pandemic is not just a health crisis. It touches everything in this country and around the world. It is a global economic crisis, and the longer it drags on, the more painful life becomes for millions of Americans simply trying to make ends meet. So, why hasn't Congress stepped in? Why has Congress not passed another stimulus bill? When could you see some relief? Joining us now, CNN political correspondent Arlette Saenz and CNN political analyst Margaret Talev, politics and White House editor at Axios. Good to see both of you this morning. So, you know, Margaret, the further we go along down this path, you can't help but ask the question, you know, is it time for Democrats to blink? Is it time for them to say, “OK, fine”?

MARGARET TALEV (CNN POLITICAL ANALYST): Yeah, Erica, I just don't think that that moment is imminent right now. The president moved on his own with these executive actions that have confused a lot of governors — including Republican governors across the U.S. — that have cut the unemployment checks, that have forced states to scramble to pick up the deficit or risk getting nothing at all. And his negotiating team's position with the congressional Democrats has been like, you know, “Now you have to come back” slash “You want us to come back.” I just don't think that's where they are right now.

But eventually, is there going to be a time when Congress needs to work out either a deal with the White House or just pass its own bills and see what happens? Yes, maybe. I mean, there is the politics of the moment. There's also the reality, which is people are beginning to face larger and larger numbers of evictions. People are trying to send their children back to school. They don't know where their next paycheck is going to come from. And the political reality that the president, heading into reelection — his reelection effort — really wants those $1,200 stimulus checks himself. And so, there is some leverage, but it doesn't seem like a deal is imminent at this point. They're on 24-hour call; they could be brought back at any moment. But right now, no planned votes back till mid-September, after the conventions.