As the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic-controlled House battle over the next round of coronavirus stimulus, and the Treasury Department attempts to set the terms of the package, one person is notably absent from the debate: President Donald Trump himself.
According to The Daily Beast, Republicans are grateful for this silence, as the president tends to give chaotic and contradictory messages. But there is also a self-interested reason why the president is staying out of the fray.
“For Trump’s allies, his absence from the talks is a negotiating ploy itself, one that is bolstered by his ability to take executive action — and look as if he’s delivering when Congress is not — should the talks fail,” reported Sam Stein and Asawin Suebsaeng. “The president may instinctually favor a major stimulus. But, they argue, there is no need for that now — with previous COVID-related relief money still unspent — and, hence, no rush to bend to Democratic demands.”
Additionally, said the report, “The risks are reputational too. The image of Trump as the prototype dealmaker — unique in his ability to levy threats and slap a few backs — may end up appearing for more and more voters to be what his critics have long alleged: a myth.”
The president has been vague about how he intends to continue extended unemployment benefits by executive action, as Congress has the power of the purse. He has, however, floated a unilateral payroll tax cut — which would give some relief to upper-middle-class workers, but give no benefit to unemployed workers and potentially threaten the solvency of Social Security and Medicare. He has also announced he will take executive action to cover pre-existing conditions, even though the Affordable Care Act already covers them.