Donald Trump, facing a barrage of devastating polls with 4 weeks to go until the election, has now decided to burn it all down around him and take the GOP with him (and tens of millions of Americans as well) by completely changing his mind on COVID-19 relief legislation talks and now decreeing that nothing will happen on COVID-19 bills until after the election.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday called an abrupt end to negotiations with Democrats over additional COVID-19 relief, delaying action until after the election despite ominous warnings from his own Federal Reserve chairman about the deteriorating conditions in the economy.
Trump tweeted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was “not negotiating in good faith” and said he’s asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to direct all his focus before the election into confirming his U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.
“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.
The unexpected turn could be a blow to Trump’s reelection prospects and comes as his administration and campaign are in turmoil. Trump is quarantining in the White House with a case of COVID, and the latest batch of opinion polls shows him significantly behind former Vice President Joe Biden with the election four weeks away.
The collapse means that Trump and down-ballot Republicans will face reelection without delivering aid to voters — such as a pre-election batch of $1,200 direct payments, or “Trump checks,” to most individuals — even as the national jobless rate is about 8% with millions facing the threat of eviction. One endangered Republican, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, said “waiting until after the election to reach an agreement on the next Covid-19 relief package is a huge mistake.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden slammed Trump’s move.
“Make no mistake: if you are out of work, if your business is closed, if your child’s school is shut down, if you are seeing layoffs in your community, Donald Trump decided today that none of that — none of it — matters to him,” Biden said in a statement released by his campaign.
Trump’s move came immediately after he spoke with the top GOP leaders in Congress, who had been warily watching talks between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Pelosi. Many Senate Republicans had signaled they would not be willing to go along with any stimulus legislation that topped $1 trillion, and GOP aides had been privately dismissive of the prospects for a deal.
Just on Saturday, tweeting from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Trump said, “OUR GREAT USA WANTS & NEEDS STIMULUS. WORK TOGETHER AND GET IT DONE.” But any Pelosi-sponsored agreement of close to $2 trillion raised the potential of a GOP revolt if it came to a vote.
Last week, the White House said it was backing a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit and dangled the possibility of a COVID-19 relief bill of $1.6 trillion. But that offer was rejected by Pelosi, who continued to take a hard line in the talks, including insisting on repeal of a $254 billion GOP business tax break passed in the March package as a way to finance additional relief.
Pelosi had spoken with Mnuchin earlier Tuesday. After Trump’s tweets spiking the negotiations, Pelosi said Trump was “unwilling to crush the virus” and “refuses to give real help to poor children, the unemployed, and America’s hard working families.”
The threat from Trump could not be more clear: America surrenders and we re-elect Dear Leader or we suffer into 2021, and four months from now is going to be too late for millions of us.
It's possible that Trump gets talked out of this, but I doubt it. It seems to me that Senate Republicans came to Trump and said they needed this package to stay in power in the Senate and the White House, and Trump saw them as weak cowards who are trying to betray him.
So he just butchered them out of spite.
Again, if you think Trump's leaving without a literal fight, well, history says that the lame duck period is more than enough time to make sure he inflicts maximum damage before January 20, and really all he has to do is nothing for three months and he gets to hand Joe Biden a collapsed economy.
All bets are off now.