We have some stimulus drama unfolding from the mind of President Donald Trump.
I’m going to get to that, but first let’s recap where we are right now in terms of stimulus negotiations.
Democrats are continuing their mildly positive tone. Pelosi said today, “I feel optimistic that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but how long that tunnel is remains to be seen.”
The Republicans, on the other hand, are as sullen as ever.
- Mitch McConnell said today, “We are a long way apart.” And today McConnell did suggest that the Senate will be in session next week, a lot of people were freaking out about the Senate’s scheduled recess, I don’t think it’s gonna happen given the situation we are in right now.
- Mnuchin said, “Our objective is to try to reach an understanding of the major issues by Friday. If we can’t reach an agreement on the major issues, it’s going to be hard to complete a deal.”
- Mark Meadows said, “There are no topline numbers that have been agreed to. We continue to be trillions of dollars apart.” And of course by topline numbers he means that Democrats and Republicans, despite over a week of negotiations now, have not agreed on the big picture numbers that should be allocated to the various stimulus proposals, $300 billion to unemployment, $400 billion this, $500 billion to that, no agreement.
- And Meadows, who is Trump’s Chief of Staff, his personal assistant in many ways, also said today, “If Congress can’t get it done, the President of the United States will.”
As I’ve told you this week, the President has grown impatient with the stimulus negotiations and appears to want to position himself as the hero of the story by issuing an executive order or a series of executive orders to accomplish various stimulus-related measures, particularly extending the enhanced unemployment to some degree, extending the federal eviction moratorium, and suspending the collection of payroll taxes.
In Trump’s latest move, the White House has now requested federal agencies for an accounting of all money allocated to them under the CARES Act to determine if these unused funds could be allocated to the stimulus measures that Trump is considering taking executive action on.
Now, on the one hand, there’s an argument for doing this for efficiency’s sake. If a federal agency hasn’t used this money allocated to them four months ago when the CARES Act was signed in late March, OK, let’s give it to the people who need it, like those about to be kicked out of their homes.
But on the other hand, this is indicative of a complete breakdown and terrible partisanship in our legislative process and, if Trump can do this via executive order, which is unclear legally at this point, it perhaps sets a frightening precedent regarding the extent of presidential power in future crises of this sort.
And it appears that the White House is taking this potential course of action more seriously with each passing day that Mnuchin, Meadows, Pelosi, and Schumer struggle to cut a deal.
One thing here, Fox Business ran an article today stating that “President Trump is considering an executive order that would unilaterally impose a stimulus plan and include a suspension of the payroll tax, an extension of federal unemployment benefits, an eviction moratorium and another round of individual stimulus checks.”
I have not seen any corroborating story about Trump considering executive action regarding stimulus checks, and I’m not sure what Fox’s source was for that because they don’t state it in the article.
That said, things are getting real here, I think Trump is kind of freaking out behind closed doors that a deal’s not going to get done, and frankly I kind of am too.