Coronavirus: Political Polarization at its Finest

by Kiran Subramanian ’21

Amidst all the talk about COVID-19 and the fear that is consuming Americans, it should be a time when politicians from both sides of the aisle come together to fix problems in America. Except, that is not what happened.

This is best shown in the House of Representatives, where the Democrats hold a majority. On March 21-22 2020, the Senate, where the Republicans hold a majority, was able to pass a $1 Trillion stimulus package, which would aid in healing the economy, which was reeling from the coronavirus.

When the stimulus package went to the House of Representatives, the House Democrats offered a new plan called the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act(you can read the bill here). This is understandable, seeing that they might have problems with the bill that other Senators did not catch. However, on further inspection, the new stimulus package has many unnecessary things added to it.

One new thing that the House Democrats added was for an increase in the minimum wage, from $7.25 to $15 an hour. While this only applies to businesses that receive federal aid, the fact is that having higher labor costs would hurt workers. As explained by George Reisman, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Pepperdine University, “The higher wages are, the higher costs of production are. The higher costs of production are, the higher prices are. The higher prices are, the smaller the quantities of goods and services demanded and the number of workers employed in producing them.” With around 3 million people, according to Vox, being unemployed due to COVID-19, having a policy that would increase unemployment would not be good for the workforce.

Another thing in the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act is a maintenance of diversity and inclusion boards at businesses for 5 years. This makes no sense for two particular reasons. Firstly, the person that gets the job should be the most qualified, regardless of what their skin color, gender, or ethnicity are. Forcing in diversity would put less qualified people in positions that they may not be ready for. Secondly, the whole point of this bill is to provide economic stimulus, but having this requirement for diversity seems rather unnecessary. As a separate act, I’m sure it might be fine, but in a bill designed to help America grow its economy, it seems like a political play.

The last point I want to mention is that this bill would require air carriers to provide information to passengers regarding greenhouse gas emissions coming from the plane. While it is important to be aware of the carbon footprint we leave on the planet, this is simply not going to work. Already on airplanes, almost no one reads or watches the in-flight safety procedures, choosing to either sleep or get work done. Having people read a paper about how munch gas was used on the plane is probably going to be ignored. Furthermore, this should not even be a part of an economic stimulus plan, as this does not solve problems relating to the coronavirus.

Honestly, there are many more unnecessary additions to the bill that I could not fit in (ex. same day voting registration, requiring that planes offset their carbon emissions by 2025, etc.). However, there is a reason why this is happening. House Democrats have been trying to score political points over the republicans by introducing this bill. It really shows how far political polarization comes when the primary purpose of a bill is to just get a few wins under the guise of helping the American people. Luckily, many are starting to reject these kinds of problems. According to RealClearPolitics, Nancy Pelosi holds an approval rating of 38.3%. Meanwhile, President Trump holds an approval rating of 42%.

With this in mind, it is up to us, the American people, to vote in 2020 to choose politicians that will not play the same political games, but actually improve the nation.

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