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We Can Finally See the Real Source of Washington Gridlock

Eleven years [after the Great Recession], America is facing a different crisis: a global pandemic and a president who downplayed the threat of the disease until the bodies of the dead in New York City piled so high, they had to be stored in refrigerated trucks.

In order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, federal health experts and local leaders have encouraged or ordered social distancing, and shut down all but essential businesses such as grocery stores, a strategy that is necessary but also will inflict great economic pain on the country. Last week, 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance.

This time around, though, the president is a Republican named Donald Trump, not a Democrat named Barack Obama. And so the $2 trillion relief bill, more than twice the size of the stimulus legislation meant to combat the Great Recession, flew through the Senate with more than 90 votes. The supposedly insurmountable ideological divides in Washington parted like saloon doors, as congressional leaders from both parties negotiated a compromise that left neither side fully content....

The complete Republican reversal on the need for the federal government to address an economic crisis is not merely hypocrisy, although it is also that. Ideological divides between the left and right did not evaporate during the negotiations—in fact, they fell along familiar lines. Democrats wanted more generous provisions for unemployment insurance and aid to families, and Republicans wanted more money for big business and fewer strings attached to it. But those differences did not prevent Congress from legislating. Washington gridlock does not stem from ideological differences about the size or role of government, although those conflicts inevitably shape legislation. It stems from the ideological conviction, held by much of the Republican Party, that the Democratic Party is inherently illegitimate and has no right to govern.

Read entire article at The Atlantic