So, Donald Trump wants to have the bigger one when it comes to stimulus.
Now, that’s great to hear, maybe. As of Sunday morning--and it’s most definitely subject to change--Trump’s chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, was making strange sounds on CNN about outbidding House Democrats’ latest $2.2 trillion bill for COVID-19 federal relief.
Confused? You’re not the only one.
Just last Thursday, Trump deflated members of his party and the gasping American people by petulantly calling off talks of any sort of relief bill. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were said to be close to a federal COVID-relief agreement after more than six months of nothing.
Trump apparently saw no need for it after having personally killed the virus, in his fogged mind.
“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business, Trump tweeted five days ago.”
As with so many pronouncements from Trump, this one was credible for just dozens of minutes. He started backtracking before either side had time to digest this troubling--and possibly drug-induced--development. Here’s how the Associated Press covered the roller-coaster ride:
“Hours later, Trump appeared to edge back a bit from his call to end negotiations. He took to Twitter again and called on Congress to send him a “Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200)” — a reference to a pre-election batch of direct payments to most Americans that had been a central piece of negotiations between Pelosi and the White House.”
Trump stood firm that it was a higher priority to ram through SCOTUS pick Amy Coney Barrett than it was to rush aid to Americans. Until Sunday’s news, which will likely be contradicted by Monday’s news.
You might remember that on March 27, Congress enacted, and Trump signed, the $2.2 trillion CARES Act. The parties expressed consensus at the time that subsequent federal spending might be needed, depending upon the trajectory of the pandemic.
As of that date, the U.S. had reported just 1,300 deaths among 85,991 COVID-19 cases. Today, barely more than half a year later, those numbers stand at 220,000 deaths among 8 million cases, horrifying statistics rising literally by the second.
You think maybe something more than zero should have been forthcoming? It wasn’t. Some of the ensuing drama would have been comical had it not been so tragic for the real world.
On May 15, the Democratic House passed a $3.4 trillion bill known as the HEROES Act, that would have helped a whole lot of people, including ones that have since died. Republicans were appalled at the very thought of such irresponsible spending.
Trump called the measure “dead on arrival.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell termed it “an unserious product from an unserious majority,” a sign that he wasn’t anxious to have coffee anytime soon with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
He didn’t. Moscow Mitch struggled mightily with his own caucus in the Senate, with many members disinterested in doing anything at all.
McConnell labored like a turtle running a marathon to get a much smaller $1 trillion relief package on the board by late July only to have it derailed amidst a public spat with Trump.
Remember why? Because someone had snuck into the bill a $1.75 billion new FBI headquarters near Trump’s hotel, for the undeniable purpose of preventing someone else from building a hotel to compete with Trump’s. Even Republicans condemned that.
Trump eloquently had dismissed his own party’s Senate bill as “sort of semi-irrelevant,” the Washington Post reported. It died.
Then came the pathetic attempt at a $500 billion “skinny bill” from McConnell and the Republicans in September. That attempt to appear to be doing “something” without helping “Democrat led” states and cities--per Trump--also died a deserved death.
Then came the House’s $2.2 trillion bill, again jeered by Republicans, with Q-Anon whisperer Kayleigh McEnany repeating the earlier language about Pelosi being “not serious.”
So, it’s back to the drawing board for Pelosi and Mnuchin, presuming White House aides can keep Trump away from his Etch-a-Sketch.