The media are at it again, changing accurate headlines that make Democrats look bad to something that either negates or softens the blame – a move that is never taken when these same outlets blame Republicans for bills not passing.
The latest example comes from CNN, which posted an article earlier Thursday with the headline, “Democrats block a GOP-led funding boost for small business aid program.” Less than an hour later, the headline was changed to read: “Senate at stalemate over more COVID-19 aid after Republicans and Democrats block competing proposals.”
Now Republicans are listed first as the party to blame. The actual article isn’t much better. It admits up front that Republicans wanted a clean funding bill while Democrats wanted to include other provisions, but it waits until the eighth paragraph to actually explain what those provisions were.
“But Senate Democrats — who unanimously backed the program when it passed last month — argue any legislation to increase funding for Small Business Administration loans must include other provisions as well, including money for hospitals on the frontlines of combating coronavirus and $150 billion in funding for states and local governments. Democrats have also asked that half of the money for SBA — $125 billion — be steered to community lenders to ensure underserved communities are getting loans,” CNN finally reported.
The outlet also asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) if Republicans would cave to Democrat demands but didn’t ask any Democrats if they would cave to the clean bill desired by Republicans.
McConnell said on the Senate floor that the small business loan program needs more funding and “fast.”
“I want to add more money to the only part of our bipartisan bill that could run out of money,” he added.
As to the other Democrat provisions, McConnell told CNN that “No one is necessarily against additional assistance … much of the rest of the money has not gone out yet.”
“It’s hard to measure the effect it’s had and the additional need. This is the one program that was running out of money, needed assistance now and all my proposed amendment would do at the request of the administration was simply change one number,” he continued.
The other provisions would require additional debate and tinkering, because as McConnell said, not all of the $2.2 trillion passed last week has gone out yet, so they don’t yet know how much is still needed elsewhere. Also, the demand to steer funding to community lenders would require much debate, as not everyone is on board with the idea, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who chairs the Small Business Committee.
That kind of debate would take time while small businesses across the country are hurting for loans to get them through the coronavirus shutdown. Of course, hits doesn’t mean the Small Business Administration is perfect, and those issues should be dealt with as well.
It is rare for members of congress to offer a clean funding bill free from pet projects and other demands. Democrats blocked on such rare bill out of spite that Republicans wouldn’t just accept other provisions that would require more debate and time. Yet CNN reported it as if both parties were to blame.
The headline change from CNN is reminiscent of the last time Democrats blocked a coronavirus relief bill. The New York Times initially placed the blame on Democrats, before changing its headline to “Democrats Block Action on Stimulus Plan, Seeking Worker Protections,” which added the vague qualifier that is not provided to Republicans when they block bills for legitimate concerns.