The real reason ten Senate Republicans are suddenly offering a silly COVID relief “compromise”

Politics is all about positioning. Before you end up taking a certain action, you make a point of trying to publicly frame it, in the hope that the public will end up interpreting your action in a certain way. Every successful politician, on both sides, understands this kind of positioning – even if the public doesn’t.

Take for instance the decision by ten Republican Senators to suddenly offer a bizarre COVID relief “compromise” package that amounts to only about one-third as much relief as Senate Democrats are targeting. Why even make such an insulting counter offer in the name of compromise? But that’s the entire point.

These ten “moderate” Republican Senators are in a tight situation. They don’t want to vote for the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion package, for fear of backlash from far right voters. But they also don’t want to be seen as having shown no interest in passing a relief package, for fear of backlash from mainstream voters.

So instead these ten Republicans are offering an insulting counter offer that they know the Democrats will have to reject. That way, when the Democrats go ahead and pass the full package with fifty votes through reconciliation, these ten Republicans can publicly argue that they tried to work on a bipartisan package, but that the Democrats weren’t willing to work with them. Again, it’s all about positioning.