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Both sides need to serve the voters who elected them

Politics often seems to be an all-or-nothing contest — even when the American people are those who will get nothing. Whatever happened to common-sense compromise? When did putting off a battle in order to help the people survive a war become a bad idea?

It was reported Friday that talks among Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, as well as White House representatives, had reached an impasse regarding a new COVID-19 relief bill.

If you want details of the disagreement, you can read them elsewhere in the paper. You may have done so already. Suffice it to say that there are multiple barriers to an agreement.

Meanwhile, millions of laid-off American workers are about to lose most of the unemployment benefits that have kept them and their families afloat for the past few months. Health care professionals want more federal aid in combating the virus. Some local and state officials are at their wits’ ends over how to pay for spending linked solidly to the epidemic. A significant number of businesses may not survive if they do not receive additional aid. Schools, both public and private, need help to make classrooms safe for students and to provide “distance learning” for many.

One key difference of opinion is about the level of federal unemployment aid to be provided. Many Democrats insist on renewal of the $600-per-week payments. Many Republicans argue that is a disincentive for people whose regular pay is less to go back to work.

And on and on and on the bickering goes.

Could Congress and the White House not agree on a bill that would provide laid-off workers something? Would not a bill providing, say, $200 a week be better than nothing? Could the duel over $600 payments not be postponed until after Americans get some help?

Of course it could. So could head-to-head battles over many other facets of the relief bill.

The bottom line in Washington seems to be that no American will get anything until partisans of both sides get what they want.

Did we elect them — of both parties — for that?

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