The Charlotte Observer editorial board is again calling Thom Tillis’ inability to stand up to the president, even when it hurts North Carolinians. We’ve seen it time and again. Whether it’s allowing the administration to raid $80 million from North Carolina military bases or standing behind the GOP lawsuit that would dismantle the Affordable Care Act, he consistently caves to save political face. And we’re seeing it again as the country responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, as polls show him consistently trailing Cal Cunningham and lagging behind in fundraising numbers, he’s released a “plan” to address coronavirus. But his hometown paper outlined all the ways Tillis plan is “way too late”:
- The Observer said his calls to improve the strategic national stockpile are weightless, as “Tillis was not among the very few Republicans who sounded the alarm then on the chaotic PPE shortage states were confronting – something Trump called ‘fake news.’” and “[e]ven now, several states – including North Carolina – say that requests for supplies have not been filled.”
- And as Republican Senators failed to act on the next coronavirus relief package before federal benefits expire for those out of work, “Tillis’ COVID-19 plan, which provides robust protection for businesses threatened by the virus, didn’t do the same for the jobless,” instead offering a “silly prescription” to sue China.
North Carolina voters can see through his election-year costume change as “an act of self-preservation.” They know him as an “architect of one of the stingiest state unemployment programs in the country” and for blocking Medicaid expansion that would provide more than 634,000 North Carolinians with health care today.
True to form, Senator Tillis didn’t stand up to the president when it mattered most, failing to lead North Carolina through this major public health crisis. As the Charlotte Observer notes: “Leadership is doing the right thing right away, not just when it’s politically OK.”
Charlotte Observer: Thom Tillis’ COVID-19 plan is thoughtful, thorough and way too late
By the Editorial Board – July 27, 2020
- We like our elected officials to be productive, which is why we were intrigued last week by a news release from the senator’s office titled: “Tillis Releases Plan to Help Defeat COVID-19, Protect North Carolinians, and Prepare for the Next Pandemic.” The plan that followed is a multi-pronged approach to coronvirus prevention, PPE protection for hospitals and front-line workers, and efforts to improve testing and tracing infrastructure.
- It’s thoughtful blueprint for attacking the pandemic. It’s exactly what North Carolina needed – four months ago.
- An example: This week’s plan includes a proposal to improve the country’s strategic national stockpile and strengthen domestic PPE manufacturing. But the bill Tillis co-sponsored that would do so was introduced in late May, long after governors and Democrats complained about an urgent need for PPE and other equipment. Tillis was not among the very few Republicans who sounded the alarm then on the chaotic PPE shortage states were confronting – something Trump called “fake news.”
- We wish the senator also would buck his party now and work toward legislation that would truly help North Carolinians who are struggling in the pandemic. For starters, Tillis could fight for a reasonable compromise with Democrats that extends meaningful unemployment benefits. Tillis’ COVID-19 plan, which provides robust protection for businesses threatened by the virus, didn’t do the same for the jobless. Instead, if the unemployed want COVID-19 relief, Tillis offers a silly prescription – a bill he and four Republicans introduced that would allow Americans to sue China for its role in COVID-19.
- The measure was another attempt from Tillis and other Republicans to deflect blame from Trump’s woeful response to the virus. But it’s also an act of self-preservation. Tillis knows that voters might also be judging his unwillingness to stand up months ago and say what the president and Americans needed to hear about COVID-19. Leadership is doing the right thing right away, not just when it’s politically OK.