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Sen. Rick Scott

Photo by Gage Skidmore/ CC BY-SA 2.0

Several Republican senators who voted "no" on the new bipartisan COVID relief bill passed by Congress on Monday took to Twitter to complain that the bill was too expensive — despite a record of supporting 2017's monumental tax break for billionaires.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) tweeted Tuesday that he voted against COVID relief, calling the bill "wasteful".

"I supported and fought for many of the COVID provisions in last night's bill," he wrote on the platform. "Unfortunately, they were attached to an omnibus spending bill that was thousands of pages long and chock full of handouts to special interests and wasteful spending. I couldn't support it."

Also on Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) retweeted a story from a far-right outline with the headline, "Sen. Ted Cruz Is Right: Congress Labeled End-of-Year Spending Bill 'COVID Relief' to Cover the Pork."

In a Monday night tweet, Cruz slammed the bill as a "spending monstrosity".

"Tonight, badly-needed #COVID19 relief was tied to a $1.4T end-of-year spending monstrosity because three times Democrats rejected good faith efforts to pass targeted legislation that would have helped Americans hurting as a result of the pandemic," Cruz wrote.

"The legislation passed yesterday will support vaccine development and distribution, assist schools and universities, and provide crucial help to Tennessee small businesses," Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) tweeted Tuesday morning. "However, I cannot support nearly $2.4 trillion in spending that will make recovery even harder."

She voiced objections to the bill expanding visas, providing Pell grants for prisoners, and "sending cash to households with illegal aliens".

"Increasing the federal deficit and spending money we do not have will harm our economic recovery," she added.

Besides Scott, Cruz, and Blackburn, three other Republicans voted against the COVID relief bill: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

But, with the exception of Blackburn, those senators opposing $600 stimulus checks and other legislation to help the working class during the pandemic also voted yes on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which reduced the top marginal income tax rate of billionaires by 6.6 percent.

Blackburn, who was elected in 2018, after the bill's passage, has nonetheless been a vocal supporter of it.

According to reports from several outlets, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enabled billionaires to pay lower taxes (23 percent) than working-class Americans in 2018 (24.2 percent).

While Trump repeatedly promised the act would boost the economy, it has instead boosted the national debt to more than one trillion dollars.

But Republicans who support tax cuts for billionaires seemed unaware of any hypocrisy in opposing help for working-class Americans.

A floor speech Monday by Paul opposing the COVID relief legislation went viral. In it, he expressed concerns about the deficit.

"This bill is free money for everyone," he said in the speech Monday. "And yet, if free money were the answer, if money really grew on trees, why not give more free money? Why not give it out all the time? Why stop at $600 a person? Why not $1,000? Why not $2,000? If we can print up money with impunity, why not do it?"

He also blasted fellow Republicans on Twitter for supporting the bill.

"To so-called conservatives who are quick to identify the socialism of the Democrats, if you vote for this spending monstrosity you are no better," he wrote. "When you vote to pass out free money, you lose your soul and you abandon forever any semblance of moral integrity."

But at least one person was swift to call out the hypocrisy of Republicans posturing about the expense of COVID relief while supporting massive tax cuts for billionaires: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

"That's funny. I didn't hear Sen. Paul worry about the deficit when he voted to give $1 trillion in tax breaks to the top 1 percent & large corporations," tweeted Bernie on Tuesday. "Yes. We should provide the working class with $2,000 a month during the pandemic like Canada did & repeal the tax breaks for the rich."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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