Trump’s Closing Argument? More Covid, Less Stimulus

The Daily Escape:

Littleton ME, October 2020 photo by Kim Smith-Williams. The trees were planted by her grandfather in 1942.

It was amazing to see Trump turn down an offer from the Democrats to inject $ trillions of stimulus into his weak economy just days before the election. Wouldn’t that have helped his chances?

And he did this the day after his “helicopter salute” ceremony that raised questions about his Covid strategy. Based on what he said, it sounds a lot like “Don’t worry about it, you’ll be fine, it’s no worse than the flu”. Trump resurrected “Same as the Flu“, and killed the economic stimulus package on the same day.

Sadly, Covid is much worse than the flu. Trump says that the flu claims more than 100,000 lives some years. Maybe it did when he was a kid, but for the past 10 years, the seasonal flu has killed between 12,000 and 61,000 Americans a year. In fact, Covid has killed more Americans in the past 8 months than the flu has killed in the past 5 years combined.

So his Covid strategy is: “Grandma’s gotta die because people need to go to restaurants”. Not a winning message.

Let’s move to Trump saying he won’t pass a new stimulus until he’s reelected. Republicans have been divided on more money for states, individuals and businesses, with those in close races generally more amenable to a bigger stimulus package.

But the hard-core conservatives have been opposed to a bigger package, and Trump is particularly hostile to providing funds to state and local governments. OTOH, while negotiations weren’t going anywhere fast, they weren’t that far apart. The House had passed a $2.2 trillion bill, while Mnuchin’s offer was $1.6 trillion.

According to the WSJ, the trigger for Trump’s pulling out of a possible deal was an update from Mitch McConnell, who said that even if Mnuchin and Pelosi came to an agreement, he wasn’t likely to have enough Republican votes in the Senate. There would have been sufficient votes in the Senate to pass the bill, but it would have required Democratic Senators to put it over the top, an unacceptable look for Trump.

Somebody should have told Trump the master negotiator, that if you walk away from a deal, you don’t get anything you want, either.

The stock market didn’t like Trump’s bailing on another stimulus. And on Wednesday, Trump reversed course and talked instead about bailing out the airlines :

“The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support, & 135 Billion Dollars for Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business. Both of these will be fully paid for with unused funds from the Cares Act. Have this money. I will sign now!”

If seems likely that the CEO of Delta might have suggested to Trump that mass layoffs in Atlanta wouldn’t be helpful to his re-election. But Trump apparently hasn’t learned that when you’re dealing with people with actual leverage (instead of a contractor who can’t afford to sue you), you actually have to give up something to make a deal.

The CARES Act was the high-water mark of federal government response to the pandemic-caused economic disaster. That was six months ago, and nothing substantial has happened since. It’s hard for Trump or his Party to say, going into the last three weeks that they really care at all about those who have lost their jobs to the pandemic.

Through a series of bad decisions and foolish actions by Trump, America has been hit harder by the coronavirus than any other industrialized nation. The outbreak has killed 210,000 and caused large numbers of people to change how they live their lives.

And those changes have created enormous economic disruptions, everywhere.

There are just 27 days to go until the election. All of those people who are out of work have to make rent. And all of them, when they worked, supported other businesses with their spending. That’s all gone.

The only thing which will “fix” the economy are masks, physical distancing, and a vaccine. Nothing gets us back to “normal” until then.

The only question is whether or not the federal government will spend the money to keep as many people and businesses afloat as possible until a vaccine gets here.

Trump and the Republicans won’t work on either Covid or help those hurt by the pandemic. So no one should vote for them.

terence mckenna

Funny thing about Trump, though I was appalled by him, after he was elected and Chris Christie was tasked with the transition, I assumed (briefly) that he might do a genuine deal on immigration and an infrastructure project.

If he had he would have created a genuine groundswell of popular opinion for him. But he did nothing of the sort.

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