Former President Obama’s chief economist, Austan Goolsbee, on Tuesday fired back at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Top GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Criminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot MORE (R-Ky.), saying the upper chamber’s top Republican left out a key portion of his remarks while quoting him.
“There are a lot of people really hurting,” McConnell quoted Goolsbee as saying. “I hope Congress can agree on something soon. If they have to accept half a loaf, then they have to accept half a loaf.”
But that quote, Goolsbee clarified, wasn’t all he said during a Sunday appearance on CNN.
“Somebody told me that he had quoted me,” Goolsbee said Tuesday. “And I was going to applaud him for good taste in who he was listening to. But then I saw what he was quoting, and he left off the critical part of the sentence where I said, ‘Start with half a loaf. Then get another half a loaf.’ And I highlighted that the reason I think we haven’t been able to get anything is that he, Mitch McConnell, is blocking it.”
The back-and-forth comes as McConnell begins circulating a new proposal for a coronavirus relief package. Months of talks between congressional Democrats and the White House have failed to produce a fifth relief bill.
Goolsbee on Sunday advised congressional Democrats to accept a smaller package to get at least some money into the hands of desperate Americans before the holidays.
“It’s not jump-starting growth,” he said. “It’s just keeping people from being evicted, keeping businesses from shutting down permanently from what was supposed to be a temporary shock.”
Republicans, at the same time, are focused on holding on to two seats in Georgia, where a runoff election will determine control of the upper chamber during the next term.
“I think he has decided that he would do better, Republicans would do better, in the Georgia senate elections if they don’t have anything that demoralizes they base,” Goolsbee said. “And I think that’s a big problem.”