There’s a lot of tut-tutting abroad about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s supposed resistance to cutting a deal on Covid stimulus. Look, I get it. Unemployed people need that $600 weekly booster, and a lot of people’s benefits are running out. Why quibble over a Democratic wish list?
But the holdup isn’t actually about any Democratic wish list. It’s about the very heavy price that Republicans demand for a Covid deal, which is that workers be left even less recourse than they have now when their employers fail to protect them from contracting a deadly disease. Mitch McConnell wants to indemnify employers from Covid claims. That isn’t just something in his Covid bill. It’s the first item in his Covid bill. To bail out unemployed people, he’s demanding that Democrats sell out employed people working under conditions that may kill them.
In addition to taking lawsuits against employers off the table, the Republican proposal for a liability shield would bar even state worker health and safety agencies from holding management accountable. And OSHA, whose failure to protect worker safety under the Trump administration has been merely voluntary, would be forever barred from protecting worker safety under a Biden administration.
My latest, in the New Republic.