Commentary

printed 03/27/2020

To get the coronavirus emergency relief package through Congress last week, compromises had to be made, notably exempting some of the nation’s largest employers from the paid sick leave requirement.

This leaves mid-size and small companies holding the bag for no other reason than they don’t have the financial clout to gain the average politician’s ear.

Not to be confused with the $2 trillion stimulus package, which includes a bailout for an airline industry that apparently was too busy gouging its passengers to save up for a rainy day, the emergency relief package requires most employers to provide two weeks sick leave.

This includes businesses with fewer than 50 employees, unless they can prove that doing so could put them out of business.

Theoretically, employers can get that money back through tax credits, but that’s not the point. It is that once again many members of Congress have demonstrated their conflict of self-interest.

In their rush to claim some kind of accomplishment at a time when state governments like Maryland’s are leading the way through this calamity, elected officials further up the ladder seem to be serving two masters, themselves and the public, in that order.

Normally, the public acknowledges that this is just routine politics, and that politicians generally look after themselves when they take a position.

Yet, people become angry when they see shoppers looking after themselves by grabbing up all the toilet paper, buying up grocery store meat counters, and hording medicines. It’s infuriating, they say, yet the other situation is deemed acceptable for some reason.

One would hope that highly placed individuals would set the standard. But no, once again, it’s the little guy — the local nonprofits, small businesses, restaurant kitchens and volunteers — who try to look out for everyone. Even more notable is that no one had to lean on them to do it.

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