Leonard Zwelling

Two things are pretty obvious now.

First, the Democrats have opted to use the reconciliation process to force through the covid relief package that President Biden has proposed. This has a price tag currently of $1.9 trillion. This is in excess of anything most Republicans can support making it necessary to use the arcane reconciliation process to get around a sure Republican filibuster and the need for 60 Senate votes to invoke cloture by-passing the filibuster. Furthermore, the Democrats might even break the Byrd Rule that limits the use of reconciliation to budget matters and force through an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour and DC statehood.

Second, in a truly precipitous and unnecessary move, the Democrats have forced the Senate to try President Trump a second time, after he is out of office. Why? One reason is to hold him accountable for inciting the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. The other is to try to eliminate him as a candidate in 2024 by denying him the ability to run again. The problem with this is not the impeachment, which was fine and which took place while Mr. Trump was still in office. That’s just a grand jury indictment. The problem is a precipitous and perfunctory trial when evidence of what really happened on January 6 is still being gathered. Since Mr. Trump is out of office and cannot be thrown out, what’s the rush? Why not attend to the Senate’s business of approving the new Cabinet and negotiating a covid relief plan that 60 Senators could get behind, and hold the trial in a few months after the FBI and other law enforcement bodies have had a chance to really investigate the events of January 6. Most particularly, if it turns out that this assault on Capitol Hill was totally planned by insurrectionist groups long before January 6, how could Mr. Trump have incited it? By contrast, if it turns out that evidence indicates that without Mr. Trump’s unwillingness to concede his loss to Mr. Biden in November or even December, these plans would not have been effectuated, then maybe he’s really guilty. Either way, I know for sure that you will never get 67 Senators to convict under this current hurried format (and Democrats didn’t), thus making this trial both time-consuming and useless. He’s gone. What’s the rush? Try him in July.

This all shows once again that the Democrats have learned nothing from the experience of the Obama economic plan and the passage of the ACA. Major legislation requires consensus. What is occurring now surrounding the covid relief package and the second Trump trial is anything but. Without a doubt, ramming through the relief bill and trying Mr. Trump prematurely will only serve to further divide the country along partisan lines and end any chance at the unity Mr. Biden says he wants.

Instead, if Biden took the deal offered by the ten GOP senators for covid relief as a start and held off on the trial until a complete dossier of the evidence could be developed, there might yet be a chance for bipartisanship even if it only encompasses ten or so GOP Senators. That’s a start.

As of my writing this (February 9), the Senate is going to go through with the trial (it’s now over). Undoubtedly there will two dog and pony shows that may or may not keep the 100 jurists in the Senate awake (it was shorter than 16 hours each and I am not sure who stayed awake). In the end, Trump will not be convicted nor will he be barred from holding future office. Once again, the Democrats are wasting everyone’s time and will have nothing to show for all the effort.

I simply cannot see the harm of taking a small bit of covid relief that the country so desperately needs and a big bite of bipartisanship which it needs even more. I understand that Biden fears an inadequate stimulus, but a big rescue package number that depends on only 50 Democratic votes may be more costly than a smaller number using 60 bipartisan ones.

Similarly, no one needs the Trump trial resolved any time soon. Let’s have a full investigation. Pretend it’s an episode of Law and Order. Let the police do their job and then let the DAs in.

This is all too hasty and too expensive. My fear is that it will also be too politically costly for the new President. He may not be getting off on the right foot, but whatever foot he’s getting off on, it’s a strictly one party one. How smart is that?

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