Congressman Tom McClintock was the only member of California’s congressional delegation to vote against the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on Friday.
Aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 the FFCRA expands funding of unemployment benefits, mandates testing the uninsured and requires that certain employers provide 10 paid sick days.
McClintock (R-CA) strenuously objected to the Paid Sick Day provision.
In a press release he expressed confidence that “at some point” new cases of COVID-19 would “peak and decline” and that once they had the FFCRA would simply allow “anyone who wants to game the system” the opportunity to take undeserved time off work and cause “productivity losses” for business.
He suggested this would have the effect of causing “America’s post-coronavirus economic recovery” to occur at a slower pace then the rest of the world.
In the week proceeding McClintock’s statement nearly 4,000 new cases of Coronavirus had been reported nationwide and over fifty in California alone. Given that at least three of those were in McClintock’s own 4th congressional district his priorities seem to be horribly misguided at a minimum.
Other countries have instituted measures to ameliorate the economic hardship stemming from coronavirus. In order to prevent mass layoffs the Danish government will underwrite 75% of the salary of every threatened worker. Spain has instituted a nationwide reprieve on utility payments.
The FFCRA is paltry by contrast. With exemptions for both large and small employers and health care workers excluded from eligibility it covers less than 20% of the workforce in practice. The notion that these workers abusing sick days would make the US economy uniquely uncompetitive in the aftermath of a global pandemic seems absurd even by conservative free market standards.
Only 39 other House Republicans voted against the bill; eight of whom are publicly identified members of the House Freedom Caucus. On Wednesday the senate version was approved by a similarly lopsided 91-8 margin.
The response from other California representatives to COVID-19 has been radically different. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) called for an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) suggested giving every American $2,000 dollars a month and called for a temporary reprieve on mortgage and student loan payments until the pandemic subsides.
McClintock is out of step with a surprising number of his fellow Republicans as well, many of whom have also expressed support for monthly payments in differing amounts.
Even more striking was President Trump’s decision to invoke the Defense Production Act of 1950 which radically expands federal control over the private sector.
The doctrinaire fiscal conservatism of McClintock has seemingly been relegated to the fringe of the Republican Party. Whether this is merely a function of the present crisis or the harbinger of a broader ideological shift remains to be seen.
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