Saturday, December 26, 2020

HoliDaze: Retribution Execution, Shutdown Countdown Edition

Donald Trump has no intention of signing the COVID-19 relief package, or the omnibus spending bill, and if he runs out the clock on signing either, the current Congress expires on January 3rd, meaning we all get to go through this again with a new Congress next year.

Millions of Americans saw their jobless benefits expire on Saturday after U.S. President Donald Trump refused to sign into law a $2.3 trillion pandemic aid and spending package, protesting that it did not do enough to help everyday people.

Trump stunned Republicans and Democrats alike when he said this week he was unhappy with the massive bill, which provides $892 billion in badly needed coronavirus relief, including extending special unemployment benefits expiring on Dec. 26, and $1.4 trillion for normal government spending.

Without Trump’s signature, about 14 million people could lose those extra benefits, according to Labor Department data. A partial government shutdown will begin on Tuesday unless Congress can agree a stop-gap government funding bill before then.

After months of wrangling, Republicans and Democrats agreed to the package last weekend, with the support of the White House. Trump, who hands over power to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20, did not object to terms of the deal before Congress voted it through on Monday night.

But since then he has complained that the bill gives too much money to special interests, cultural projects and foreign aid, while its one-time $600 stimulus checks to millions of struggling Americans were too small. He has demanded that be raised to $2,000.

“Why would politicians not want to give people $2,000, rather than only $600?...Give our people the money!” the billionaire president tweeted on Christmas Day, much of which he spent golfing at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

Many economists agree the bill’s aid is too low but say the immediate support is still welcome and necessary.

A source familiar with the situation said Trump’s objection to the bill caught many White House officials by surprise. While the outgoing president’s strategy for the bill remains unclear, he has not vetoed it and could still sign it in coming days.

Three observations: 

He could sign it, but he's not going to.  I don't think it matters to him anymore if the government shuts down, if people lose unemployment benefits, if eviction moratoriums expire, or if people get zero COVID-19 relief. He's going to make everyone miserable until he gets his way. Even if a new package was passed next week, he would simply move the goalposts again.

No, he wants a deal. At the minimum, he wants a deal that makes him and his family immune to prosecution or even investigation. He wants the NY state cases dropped. He wants Biden to apologize. Hell, he might want Biden to concede and give him that second term. I don't know anymore. Trump has taken hundreds of millions of hostages and he'll sacrifice as many as he has to in order to beat the system and be the best "dealmaker" in American history, the Legend Who Outsmarted The Entire United States. He wants to go down in history as the all-time greatest.

I don't know what Pence or McConnell are going to do. Both of them are cowards and won't dare tempt Trump's wrath. Maybe Biden will have Trump dragged out by the Secret Service. But that's still weeks away, and Trump can cause catastrophic and lasting damage right now. The GOP is terrified of him, and if they don't go along with his delusion, he will have his base crucify them. Pence could step in if he wanted to, but he won't.
It's pretty clear as of this morning that Trump believes he has the upper hand.

So I don't know what's going to happen over the next three or four weeks. I really hope I'm writing about the opening days of the Biden administration and how we all started to come out from under the crushing weight of Trump's deliberate abuse when January 23rd rolls around.

My biggest fear is that the nightmare will have only just started.
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