House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walked out of a meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday and said, “I think we are about there,” in coming to an agreement with the White House on a coronavirus relief package.
No word on where the negotiators are as far as dollar amounts, but it’s likely to be a lot closer to the Democrats’ $2.2 trillion package than the GOP’s $1.8 trillion.
This is because the closer we get to Election Day, the more the president appears to be caving to Pelosi’s demands. That means a lot more money for state and local governments as well as extended unemployment benefits and personal stimulus checks worth $1200.
And it’s not just that we’re getting closer to the election that’s lit a fire under negotiators. For the first time, Democrats are being questioned by the media about their obstructionism in preventing a bill from passing. The last thing Pelosi wants is any blame for inaction on pandemic relief to be attached to the Democrats.
There’s a lot standing in the way of a done deal — not the least of which is a reluctant Republican Senate that doesn’t appear interested in passing another trillion-dollar stimulus bill.
The true roadblock for any new stimulus bill, some argue, is McConnell and Senate Republicans. Negotiations between Pelosi and the White House are more or less irrelevant, they say, because there’s very little chance the Senate would even consider, let alone approve, another trillion-dollar aid package given the political incentives and the urgent push to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Part of the GOP resistance is ideological and some of it is practical. There are still a few budget hawks left in the Republican Party and the thought of piling on several trillion more in debt is more than they can stomach. The practical objection to the bill is that the time is past for “crisis government” and a more rational, targeted approach to stimulus legislation is needed. Donald Trump suggested individual bills that would address unemployment, education, rental and mortgage assistance, and the personal IRS check to taxpayers. Aid to state and local government can be dealt with later.
That makes a helluva lot more sense than this “pants-on-fire legislating” that wastes tens of billions of dollars on a non-essential, non-stimulus-related Democratic wish list.
But it is in the Democrats’ political interest to maintain crisis governance to scare people into voting for them. They have handled it masterfully, and with the eager assistance of the national media, have fanned the flames of hysteria about the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, millions of individual Americans are hurting. If the American people want more goodies from the government, they will get them by electing Democrats at all levels of governing.
Then they will truly deserve the government they get.