U.S. Sen. James Lankford, who still will not acknowledge a presidential election that outgoing President Donald Trump lost by nearly 6.9 million votes, is now cosplaying as a buttoned-down debt and deficit hawk while the nation waits for coronavirus relief.
On Thursday, as less chowder-headed GOP colleagues signaled openness to a proposed bipartisan $908 billion COVID-19 stimulus package, Lankford was still poisoning the well with bad faith arguments, bogeyman politics and unwillingness to compromise.
“We’re not going to do Pelosi’s $2.5T bill w/ non-related COVID spending,” Lankford tweeted on Thursday. “@SenateGOP has worked for months to pass relief focused on more testing, access to vaccines, help for schools, nonprofits and small business.”
He is lying about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s position.
by George Lang, opinion writer for Free Press
On Wednesday, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer both endorsed the $908 billion proposal. The plan would provide nearly $300 billion in small business aid, $160 billion for state and local governments; provide for weekly $300 federal unemployment benefits, and direct billions of dollars toward childcare, hunger and distributing vaccines.
Lankford is standing with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s austere $500 billion package, which provides for aid to small businesses and vaccine distribution but kicks the can down the road for unemployment benefits and other needed provisions while one in five Oklahoma children struggles with hunger.
Even in the $908 billion compromise legislation, Republicans have insisted on a temporary liability shield to protect corporations from coronavirus-related lawsuits. Democrats are strongly against this provision. Republicans want it because an astonishing level of corporate malfeasance has taken place in the wake of March’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
According to reporting by The Washington Post, $2.3 trillion in COVID-19 relief went to businesses that were not required to report how they were impacted by coronavirus. Those businesses were also not required to retain employees through the use of those funds. Meanwhile, The Cheesecake Factory will claim a tax break of $50 million this year after furloughing 41,000 workers.
So, if these comparatively moderate Republican senators get their way, employers will be protected from lawsuits by former employees who lost their jobs while their corporate leaders gorged themselves on COVID-19 aid.
Lankford spent much of Thursday doing his deficit hawk routine on the bright white fringe of Republican propaganda mills, appearing on both Newsmax’s National Report with Shaun Kraisman and former journalist Maria Bartiromo’s show on Fox Business. In such non-journalistic environments, no one stops Lankford when he plays fast and loose with Democratic legislative priorities.
It’s shocking he was not able to fit in a quick hit with One America News Network (OAN), but when Lankford devotes his media time to such hyper-niche conservative organs, he is going to places where the truth does not matter and the viewers all live in a MAGA disinformation ecosystem.
And this Saturday, he will once again be speaking in a truth-optional environment to an even smaller and more targeted and exclusive constituency. As I wrote earlier this week, Lankford, Sen. Jim Inhofe and Gov. Kevin Stitt will strap on the ol’ dark money feed bag at noon Saturday at Castle Falls, 820 N MacArthur Blvd, a restaurant and venue that can accommodate 250 people.
For $1,000 to $5,000 per conservative couple, attendees can eat Swadley’s B-B-Q and help the Senate Georgia Battleground Fund. This is a pop-up shop overseen by Karl Rove to funnel donations to Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler as the two Georgia incumbent senators face a January 5 runoff challenge from Democrats Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock. Rove’s goal is to raise $43 million, and if 125 couples actually show up and pay the top dollar, $625,000 could come from Oklahoma.
Now, what will happen if VoteVets Action Fund, the Lincoln Project or some of the Democratic Super PACs in Georgia start campaigning against Lankford and Stitt in 2022? The howling and furious rending of garments will be unreal. But this is where Lankford and his ilk are right now. They are more interested in a senate race 850 miles away than the struggles of regular citizens in their own state. Let us see if they can take the same medicine once the midterms ramp up.
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