Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday defended a potential trillion dollar stimulus amid the raging COVID-19 outbreak, stating that “these are not ordinary times.”
However, back in 2009, when he was minority leader, McConnell repeatedly voiced opposition to the Recovery Act, which was proposed by President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders to help Americans suffering from the Great Recession.
During a press conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday, a reporter asked McConnell how “Republicans became okay with spending perhaps a good trillion dollars” to boost the economy.
McConnell noted several other “great crises” like the 2008 financial crisis and the 2012 fiscal cliff and said, “When they occur, we are able to rise above our normal partisanship and many times our normal positions.”
“Because these are not ordinary times,” McConnell added. “This is not an ordinary situation and so it requires extraordinary measures.”
When the Recovery Act was proposed in 2009, the American economy was in the midst of the Great Recession. In January that year, the U.S. economy lost nearly 800,000 jobs, preceded by multiple months of hundreds of thousands of additional job losses.
Despite the dire situation, McConnell was one of 38 Republican who voted against the Recovery Act, which provided relief programs for those impacted the most by the recession and injected additional funds into various federal health, infrastructure, energy, and educations programs.
The measure eventually passed the Senate by a vote of 60-38 with all Democrats and only three Republicans in support. The bill passed 246-183 in the House without a single Republican vote.
At the time, McConnell attacked the legislation, in multiple statements on the Senate floor.
“Americans can’t afford a trillion dollar mistake, however well-meaning the intent,” he said on Feb. 6, 2009. Four days later, McConnell called the proposed spending “an enormous amount of money” and said taxpayers “want to know how we’re going to pay for all this.”
“I think Americans would like to know how the administration plans to pay for all these things in the context of all the normal annual spending,” McConnell said on Feb. 11, describing it as a “partisan bill that spends a trillion dollars” in a statement released the same day.
After the bill passed, the economy began to recover. Instead of losing jobs, the country began adding jobs in February of 2010 in a streak that has continued to the present day.
From that point on, and until the end of Obama’s tenure there were 15.8 million jobs added to the economy.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.