Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday accused Democrats of deliberately seeking to extend coronavirus lockdowns of businesses and schools so that President Trump suffers politically ahead of the presidential election.
Democratic-aligned teachers’ unions have remained opposed to opening schools. In Los Angeles, the teachers’ union has made overtly political demands as part of its reopening plan, including defunding the police, taxing the wealthy, implementing a moratorium on charter schools, providing “Medicare-for-all,” and obtaining more federal funding.
“We’re 100 days out from the presidential election — the only objective Democrats have is to defeat Donald Trump,” Cruz told CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” anchored by Margaret Brennan. “And they’ve cynically decided [the] best way to defeat Donald Trump is shut down every business in America, shut down every school in America.”
Cruz specifically took issue with Democrats’ plan for a new coronavirus relief bill, which Congress is expected to take up this week. Brennan noted that top Republicans and the White House have also signaled support for a new round of stimulus relief, including $1,200 stimulus checks and tax credits for businesses. Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow also suggested Sunday the White House would extend the federal eviction moratorium.
But, Cruz urged them to focus on a broader recovery bill.
“The policy that [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are pushing adds an additional $600 a week of federal money to unemployment,” Cruz said. “Except, the problem is, for 68 percent of people receiving it right now, they are being paid more on unemployment than they made in their job.”
That was a concern that some Republicans voiced back in March, although it prompted some skepticism from economic analysts urging for a quick jumpstart to the economy. (“The weird thing about this hypothetical ‘generous unemployment pay will discourage people from entering critical industries’ is… they could just raise wages?” Alex Godofsky wrote on Twitter at the time. “Amazon has already raised wages. Like, it’s okay if wages — and prices — go up for a while. It’s fine.”)
On Sunday, though, Cruz said the problem has become more than hypothetical.
“And I’ll tell you, I’ve spoken to small business owners all over the state of Texas who are trying to reopen and they’re calling their waiters and waitresses, they’re calling their busboys, and they won’t come back,” Cruz continued. “And, of course, they won’t come back because the federal government is paying them, in some instances, twice as much money to stay home.”
In the alternative, Cruz argued in favor of a payroll tax cut and lifting economic restrictions. Although Brennan suggested that those initiatives could come later, Cruz said it’s important to consider them immediately.
“What we ought to focus on, instead of just shoveling trillions out the door, we ought to be passing a recovery bill. Now, what’s a recovery bill? A recovery bill would be lifting the taxes and the regulations that are hammering small businesses so that people can go back to work. A recovery bill would suspend the payroll tax, which would give it a — a pay raise to everyone in America who’s working. That actually gets people back to work.”
Cruz was conducting the interview from his home in Houston, where the U.S. ordered the Chinese Consulate closed, alleging it was involved in rampant theft of secrets. The FBI has said scores of Chinese military-linked researchers lied on their visas to gain access to U.S. research in other institutions.
Cruz noted he has long sounded the alarm on China — “the last time I did this show was from Hong Kong in October,” he said, adding that he was dressed in “all black in solidarity” with pro-democracy protesters.
“One of the most, in fact, the most significant foreign policy consequence of this pandemic is people are understanding the threat China poses,” Cruz said. “And in particular, this virus originated because of communist China’s deliberate cover up. They arrested, they silenced the heroic Chinese whistleblowers that tried to stop this at the outset.”