The Trump administration’s support for extensive government intervention to lessen the economic impact of the coronavirus has intensified a debate among Republicans about the role of government, Politico reported on Monday.
In response to the last major economic national crisis, the Obama administration in 2009 had difficulty passing a $900 billion stimulus bill, as only three Republicans total in both the Senate and House voted for it.
But now, congressional Republicans have backed, with almost no resistance, a stimulus package more than double that size, with more government aid apparently on its way.
Before the pandemic crisis, Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Josh Hawley (who were the leading figures behind the crafting of the current stimulus package) and their fellow Republican populists were a small group among GOP supporters.
This raises the question if this philosophy now represents the main thinking of Republicans or if the party will, following the crisis, return to its traditional small-government outlook.
“Clearly there's going to be demand for many types of stimulus," Henry Olsen, a backer of a more economically interventionist conservatism, told Politico. "There’s going to be demand for the view that we're not going to let this happen again. And a libertarian, hands-off policy doesn't really respond to that.”
But other Republicans doubt the pandemic will substantially alter the view of conservatives.
“I don't think anything has changed fundamentally in the Republican Party because of what is going on with coronavirus ,” a senior Senate Republican aide said.”
Some insist the protests is some states illustrate this. Although those demonstrations have been relatively small and mostly about quarantine policies rather than the large stimulus plans, they do suggest the GOP’s libertarian soul has not gone away.
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