This is my update for Friday, December Eighteenth.
We are still waiting for Congress to finish this deal, it is Friday, this is the deadline for government funding, this is the last day for the one-week stopgap that was passed a week ago, and with every minute that goes by it looks like what House Majority Leader, Number Two Dem in the House Steny Hoyer said earlier this week might happen, namely, Congress having to pass another stopgap measure, a mini-continuing resolution to keep the government funded at existing levels, for another few days so that our friends in Congress can knock out the finalities of this combined one-point-four-trillion government funding omnibus slash nine-hundred-billion stimulus bill that they’re working on.
Or, alternatively, as John Thune suggested will happen, the government will shut down briefly over the weekend. Wild ride here, folks, a little bit of good news is that reportedly McConnell this morning said he’s “even more optimistic right now than [he] was last night,” though he said that there will probably be the need for another stopgap measure, I was hoping to hear from Pelosi at her weekly press conference this morning and tell you the latest on what she’s saying, but apparently it’s been pushed back to this afternoon two P.M. Eastern Time.
Before we get into the negotiations, let’s just talk briefly about Trump, so as I’m sure you’ve heard Washington Post yesterday afternoon reported that Donald Trump wanted to issue a statement yesterday calling for two thousand dollar stimulus checks or at least twelve hundred dollar stimulus checks and White House aides intervened to prevent him from doing so because they said look do you want to screw this up?
Congress is working hard on this right now, close to a deal, but if you say something that sounds like you’re going to veto anything without two thousand dollar or at least twelve hundred dollar stimulus checks, you might kill everything. This is nothing new, there was talk of Trump wanting two thousand dollar stimulus checks reported by the Washington Post last Tuesday, when Pelosi and Mnuchin were negotiating Trump would pop in and say or tweet, “I WANT BIGGER STIMULUS THAN THE DEMS.”
This is nothing new, like I’ve said before, Trump is all but irrelevant at this point even to his own party. From the Republican perspective, it’s the Mitch show now.
Trump, the White House, Mnuchin, Kudlow, all those guys, they’re out in thirty-three days, but Mitch will remain, going into this thirty-sixty year in the Senate. Look, folks, let’s just do some basic math.
Right now this compromise bill that they’re working on is about nine hundred billion and it includes these six hundred dollar stimulus checks that will cost roughly a hundred and fifty billion, so just kind of extrapolating those numbers, and this is very back of the napkin math that doesn’t take into account potentially differing income limitations, yadda yadda yadda, if six hundred dollar stimulus checks cost one-fifty, then proportionately, two thousand dollar stimulus checks would cost around five hundred billion, ballooning the cost of this package to roughly one point two five trillion, that doesn’t seem large compared to what Mnuchin was talking about before the election, but think about it.
As I’ve told you we’ve heard reports that Republicans are trying to nickel and dime everything right now. We had the Number Two Republican Senator, John Thune, suggesting we make those who are eligible for the supercharged unemployment boost of three hundred a week, which Republicans want to shorten by the way, like we’ve said, from sixteen weeks to twelve or thirteen to potentially only ten, Thune suggested that if somebody’s eligible for unemployment they shouldn’t be eligible for stimulus checks.
It sounds like Dems shot that down, but that’s the mentality right now among GOP senators, just realistically speaking, they’re not going to all of a sudden in the next few days be open to ballooning the cost of this bill from nine hundred billion to one-point-five trill, it just won’t happen.
Twelve hundred dollar checks would get it over the one-trill mark, and I think even that would be distasteful to them. But two thousand? Come on, he’s talked this sort of thing up before, let’s not get too excited about that.
Negotiations, in my videos over the past few days I’ve told you what the remaining sticking points, Republicans and Dems are still squabbling over various things, FEMA, live venue funding, some Dems saying Republicans are pushing for too much for small business at the expense of unemployment, there’s the issue of the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending facilities, Republicans want to scale those back, and frankly that’s probably the biggest issue right now.
Republican Senator Pat Toomney of Pennsylvania said that these emergency lending facilities that the Fed has could make the Fed more of a lender of “first resort” rather than a lender of “last resort” and he and other Republicans want to scale back the Fed’s emergency lending powers specifically as exercised through the facilities set up the CARES Act such as the Main Street Lending Program.
Democrats, however, see this move by Republicans as a move to decrease the power of the Federal Reserve to come in and stabilize the economy when need be. Democrats are claiming that Republicans aren’t merely seeking to scale back the Fed to what it was before the coronavirus pandemic but to actually reduce the authority the Federal Reserve had before the CARES Act was passed.
This is even in light of Fed Chair Jerome Powell this week saying that as far as these emergency lending facilities go, after the crisis has passed, the Fed will put these emergency tools back in the box. Democrats are essentially claiming right now that a deal would have been reached at this point if Republicans hadn’t raised this issue of scaling back the Fed’s lending facilities, that’s their side of the story, but even just looking this from a nonpartisan perspective, the powers and lending capacity of the Federal Reserve, that’s a pretty big issue, so this could very well be the thing that stalls a stimulus deal here.
Other issues we talked about surround how the stimulus checks at the moment are planned to be six hundred for non-dependent, six hundred per dependent including adult dependents, U.S. citizens who are married to those without a Social Security Number as well as their citizen children, would be eligible, that’s the Marco Rubio plan, obviously Bernie and Josh Hawley are still pushing hard for twelve hundred rather than six hundred, in fact today Josh Hawley is going to ask the Senate today to vote on twelve hundred dollar stimulus checks, though I have a feeling he will be shot down.
I cannot stress this enough, everything is still up in the air. There were some new disagreements that were publicized yesterday, they were not quite substantial enough to convince me to make a dedicated video just for these developments, but let’s go over them now.
Let’s start with eviction moratorium. Democrats and Republicans right now are fighting over whether or not an eviction moratorium is necessary if they’re going to give rent relief anyway. Democrats are obviously pushing for an eviction moratorium, but the Senate Banking Chair, Republican Mike Crapo of Idaho, is saying that he’s seeking to “avoid the need” for an eviction moratorium by approving rental assistance, he feels it’s redundant.
My take is, look, people are going to fall through the cracks with the rental relief, and some states may not be the best at distributing funds, so I don’t really any harm in extending the eviction moratorium as well at least for a little while, while states figure out how to administer the rent relief that they’re planning.
That’s my take, feel free to disagree.
Also, we have some news on unemployment, Republicans are reportedly seeking to exclude people receiving less than one hundred dollars a week in regular statement unemployment benefits from qualifying for the extra three-hundred-dollar weekly federal boost, they’re obviously taking a move from Trump’s playbook because that was the rule as well with Trump’s unemployment memorandum.
So Republicans are reportedly seeking to further cut funding for unemployment in this thing, we know that already they are seeking to slash the unemployment boost from sixteen weeks in the bipartisan Manchin-Romney proposal to twelve or even ten weeks in this compromise bill.
Obviously Democrats disagree with Republicans on this point, Democrats want more unemployment benefits, Republicans have been trying to reduce the benefits in this new nine hundred billion dollar compromise.