Patricia Smith: How to break political gridlock |

Patricia Smith: How to break political gridlock

I have a novel idea to end the political deadlock in Congress. No filibuster or reconciliation needed. It is so cowardly that not a single Republican voted for the COVID-19 stimulus package knowing full well that it would pass anyway. They had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

But what if they didn’t gain? What if any state whose senators voted against the relief package didn’t get to share in the benefits offered? And what if the districts in states that did pass the legislation but whose representatives voted against the package were also ineligible?

How fast do you think those votes would change when they had to face their constituents and say:

“Hey you could have had a stimulus check for $1,400 for individuals or $2,800 for a married couple plus $3,000 for children over 6 and $3,600 for children under 6.

“You could have had your unemployment benefits extended for 13 weeks including a $300 benefit boost. It would also have provided aid to self-employed, temporary workers and gig workers but no longer.

“Your children lose out, too. The child tax credit would have been increased from $2,000 to $3,000 for every child from 6 to 17 years old and $3,600 for every child under 6.

“The minimum wage has not been raised in 12 years. But don’t think about how much costs for things like homes prices and rents, food, medical, insurance, child care, utilities, clothing, gasoline and automobiles have risen during that time. But hey, you’re a resourceful American. You’ll figure out a way to survive on less. And the lines for food banks aren’t all that long.

“And the cities and communities you live in? The ones that send us the money we dole out? They can get by without any assistance from Uncle Sam. So what if they will be forced into massive layoffs of police, firefighters, emergency medical services, sanitation workers, road crews, libraries, and teachers? I’m sure you are capable of providing these services for yourself.

“Forget that over a half-million Americans have died from COVID-19 and unknown numbers have become “long haulers” (people suffering from symptoms long after they test negative for the virus). We don’t want their stinking money for COVID-19 testing or a means to distribute vaccines to those who want them. You can sleep better knowing that I’ve saved you from all of that.

“So all you single mothers who work multiple jobs to keep afloat (when you can get them), all of you working families about to lose your homes, all of you seniors waiting for the vaccine, hold me in yours prayers for saving you from the horrors of socialism.”

If you think I’m letting Democrats off the hook, think again. Please use a little common sense. You should not be forced into means testing to determine that benefits go to the most deserving. You open yourselves up to well deserved criticism when even inmates in prison receive benefits.

Have you considered an apprentice starting wage for students who work part-time and haven’t developed workplace skills yet? Have you considered that the cost of living varies greatly from state to stay and $15 an hour may be too much for a local economy in some places and not nearly enough in others? Not too many things work in “a one size fits all” mindset.

So I hope voters in every community across this nation remember just who voted in their interests and who voted against them. Things will only change when we hold our elected officials accountable for their actions.

Patricia Smith lives in Nevada City.

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