Not only is GOP Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell deliberately sabotaging any COVID-19 deal in December, the White House is now doing the same.
The Trump administration on Tuesday proposed an economic relief package that would offer far skimpier federal unemployment benefits than what has been proposed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, adding an element of uncertainty into the fragile stimulus negotiations, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Instead, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has proposed that lawmakers approve another stimulus check worth $600 per person and $600 per child, the people familiar with the plan said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to share details of private deliberations.
The new White House proposal was a nonstarter for Democrats and a sharp rejection of the bipartisan efforts that have brought the two parties closer to a compromise on a legislative package amid signs that the U.S. economy is deteriorating under the increasing strain of the coronavirus.
Under the bipartisan framework released last week by a group of moderate lawmakers, Congress would approve about $180 billion in new federal unemployment benefits for tens of millions of jobless Americans. That would be enough to fund federal supplementary unemployment benefits at $300 per week while extending various unemployment programs that are set to expire at the end of the year. The framework did not include another round of stimulus payments.
By contrast, Mnuchin has submitted a plan to provide about $40 billion in new funding for federal unemployment benefits. Mnuchin’s plan would extend expiring benefits but does not include any supplementary federal benefit, meaning millions of jobless workers would receive no additional federal help, one person familiar with the plan said. A spokeswoman for the Treasury Department declined to comment.
The plan submitted by Mnuchin is almost certain to be viewed as a nonstarter by congressional Democrats, who have been adamant that the federal government provide additional income support to laid-off workers. It could also imperil revived talks over stimulus negotiations.
In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) strongly criticized the proposal by the White House.
“The bipartisan talks are the best hope for a bipartisan solution,” the statement said. “The President’s proposal starts by cutting the unemployment insurance proposal being discussed by bipartisan Members of the House and Senate from $180 billion to $40 billion. That is unacceptable.”
I'm glad the Washington Post is being honest here for once instead of blaming Pelosi and Schumer for this, but the bigger problem is that the GOP is more than happy to deliberately hand a depression to Joe Biden, and then to stop him from fixing it.