Seriously, $25 million for the Kennedy Center? $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts?
Still, I have an original idea that I’m betting millions of other Americans have had over the last few days. How about one stand-alone bill that addresses all of the health care emergency needs? How about we first get money to hospitals, community health centers, doctors, nurses, manufacturers of masks, gloves, hospital beds, ventilators, Covid-19 tests, breakthrough treatments, and training so that more people can learn to safely assist the health professionals, many of whom are already overwhelmed — and then deal with the bailouts for companies and nonprofits later?
After addressing these pressing issues, Congress can then work on a second economic relief package in which it can try to stuff all the pork that we, the people, don’t want down our collective throats in the interest of “bipartisan compromise.” Or perhaps, they’ll actually address the most pressing needs of a nation in crisis and leave the pork out of the bill.
I know that’s asking a lot, but just consider the inability to send out press releases taking credit for supporting an arts center — Congress’s personal sacrifice for the cause.
After 9/11, many of us thought we might be entering a new era of shared sacrifice, similar to the shared sacrifices made by our parents and grandparents during the Great Depression and WWII. I, for one, thought we’d be called to tighten the belts at every level of society in order to defeat the terrorist threat. Of course, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Then as now, Congress moved quickly to see how much of our money it could spend on lots of stuff we didn’t need. The Department of Homeland Security was created, because al Qaeda would tremble at the mere thought of a new, massive bureaucracy that would do what all of the other agencies were already doing. Meanwhile, we, the people, were encouraged not to ask what we could do for our country but to go to the mall.
Today, we are literally being told we can’t go out because it’s too dangerous. Our kids are home from college, high school, grade school and preschool. All “non-essential” businesses and services like libraries are being forced to close. Most of us can’t go to our offices. For God’s sake, we can’t go to church. When we do venture out for a walk, we barely speak to our neighbors for fear of infecting them. We just nod politely from a safe distance, shrug our shoulders and get by them as quickly as possible. Our hands are raw from washing every time we touch a doorknob.
I just want to give my 87-year-old mom and 90-year-old dad a hug when I drop off the groceries. But that would defeat the whole point of doing their shopping — and so we stick to no hugs, and lots of disinfectant. They are veritable prisoners in their house. They’re paying the cleaning ladies not to show up.
My parents are wondering what all the sacrifices they’ve made during their lives have amounted to. And they are most anxious not for themselves, but for their children and grandchildren. They fear we are headed from pandemic to economic depression. They fear they won’t live to see the country they love recover before they die. My mother, especially, knows sacrifice, having grown up in England. The Brits were still on war rations in 1952 when she met my pop, then a young US Air Force sergeant doing his service.
Now, through all of this, members of Congress are still acting as if it’s business as usual, bickering and arguing and pointing fingers on cable news while callously thinking we, the people, are too stupid to see that they’re up to their old spending tricks. They always seem to think we won’t notice the money spent on pet projects and ideological whims because these bills tend to be so large that only the congressional staff who write the damn things know what’s really in them. I’d say, “A pox on both your houses,” but I actually fear I’ll be blamed if any of them get this dreadful pox that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
So my dear members of Congress, for the love of country, just do the right thing. Show some character, integrity and courage. First send the money to the front lines of the health care fight. Then figure out the economic relief package. And get it all done by this weekend.
If you get it done, perhaps sooner rather than later we will all know the thrill of shaking hands again.
- Public health expert warns virus not going away – KSAT San Antonio
- Tesla asks employees to resume production at Fremont car plant despite coronavirus health orders – CNBC
- Major health groups and charities urge Trump to reverse World Health Organization funding decision – CNN
- Public health officials push back on May opening | TheHill – The Hill
- Analysis | The Health 202: Los Angeles is racing to discover the true coronavirus infection rate – The Washington Post
- Some Public Health Officials Not Releasing Coronavirus Hospitalizations : Shots – Health News – NPR
- Covid-19 health-care crisis could drive new developments in robotics, editorial says – The Washington Post
- Lost Your Health Insurance During the COVID-19 Crisis? Here Are Your Options – The Motley Fool
- El Paso virus cases jump to 35 as health leaders warn of increased risk of ‘community spread’ – KVIA El Paso