GOP coronavirus rescue would let Trump hotels get a loan but planned parenthood not
WASHINGTON – A gargantuan new economic stimulus package that is the subject of fierce debate on Capitol Hill could have opposite implications for two potential borrowers: President Donald Trump and Planned Parenthood.
Under included language In Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s bill, the president’s hotel industry appears fully eligible for emergency loans that could save him from bankruptcy in an economic downturn.
Planned Parenthood, the reproductive health care provider and constant target of the GOP, is reportedly barred from accessing crisis loans due to an “exclusion of nonprofits receiving Medicaid spending.”
Democrats are calling on GOP leaders to remove the clause banning family planning and increase restrictions and transparency on business loans, a senior Senate official told VICE News on Monday. But it’s unclear what kind of compromise Democrats and Republicans will eventually find, as pressure mounts to produce a contingency plan to save the U.S. economy from the worst of the looming recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s obscene,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) Told VICE News in a phone interview when asked about the gap. “Even in the midst of the worst pandemic in 100 years and possibly the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, Republicans seem unable to shake off their propensity to favor the pampered and well-off at the expense of everyone else.
The bill introduced by the Republicans includes a provision to expand some $ 500 billion in business loans that Democrats have criticized as a “slush fund” for businesses, due to its lack of stricter terms on borrowers from business or transparency. The proposed wording means that Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin could grant loans without saying who got one for six months.
The total cost of the bill is $ 1.8 trillion, more than the bank bailouts and economic stimulus packages adopted to stem the financial crisis in 2008-2009 combined.
In a heated Senate debate on Monday, Republicans accused Democrats of unnecessarily slowing the stimulus package while pushing their own plans, including anti-climate change terms on all airlines that get government loans.
“It’s incredible!” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. Democrats, she said, have “no sense of urgency!”
Democrats retorted that Republicans were just trying to bail out companies while not taking care of workers. They say the attack on family planning funding – much of which goes to cover daily health care, not abortions – proves the GOP is playing politics amid a global pandemic.
“The GOP is politicizing this crisis with things like targeting family planning,” Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley said in a statement. “Their bill gives the Trump administration a half-trillion dollar slush fund to distribute to businesses without transparency, without a panel of experts to guide decisions and without oversight.”
The bill would have an impact beyond family planning for other Medicaid providers, said Mara Youdelman, an attorney with the National Health Law Program, a civil rights group.
“It is unacceptable that Republicans seek to undermine the health care safety net during a pandemic that could make hospitals sicker and strain hospitals,” Youdelman told VICE News.
When asked on Sunday if he would promise not to take any money for the rescue, Trump objected and complained that no one is giving him credit for refusing to receive his paycheck in as president.
“Let’s just see what happens,” Trump said.
Cover: A man walks past the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago on March 21, 2020 (Photo: KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP via Getty Images)