No harbinger of more harmonious times

Republicans and Democrats praise the agreement on the second major corona aid package. But you shouldn’t be blinded by this exuberance. The disputed points were postponed. It’s a lukewarm compromise.

Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during a news conference in Washington in early December

EA “non-partisan breakthrough” is what Mitch McConnell, the majority leader of the Republican Party in the American Senate, called the government’s second major corona aid package. President-elect Joe Biden of the rival Democrats saw the deal as a “model” of how the two parties can work together in these difficult times.

You shouldn’t be blinded by this exuberance. The new economic stimulus program came about with a bang.

For months there was little progress in the negotiations. The most contentious issues, including aid to state and local governments suffering from lost tax revenues, remain unresolved. The threatened shutdown of government business due to lack of money, the rapidly increasing number of infections and alarming economic data put politicians in a situation in which it was no longer an option not to act.

Just postponed

But in the end they only managed a lukewarm compromise, which simply excluded essential differences and could therefore have been found months ago. These points are now postponed.

At least there is now a temporary solution. It will help many Americans and ailing businesses through the winter, which will be grim in view of the infection rate. In spite of all the euphoria surrounding the current introduction of vaccines, it remains to be seen whether it will act as a bridge to an economic recovery.

What is certain is that the Republicans will not make it easy for the Democrats and their President Biden in further talks. Many of them have made it clear that they will now insist on budget discipline again, even if this was of minor importance in recent years under Donald Trump.

How good their cards are depends on whether they can hold their majority in the Congress Chamber in a few weeks after the runoff elections for two Senate seats. In any case, the aid package that has now been adopted should not be misunderstood as a harbinger of more harmonious times in Washington.