I wrote this editorial in my paper Friday urging Trump to do the very thing he did.
President Trump’s instincts are correct and he should follow them
Word Friday morning was that Congress was near a deal on approving a new stimulus package before heading home for the holidays.
The deal stinks and it’s a testament to the dysfunction that is the United States Congress that this deal — that gives individuals a paltry $600 and a minor temporary bump in unemployment benefits along with some aid to small business and money for vaccine distribution — is the best that our elected representatives can come up.
This at a time when the economic recovery has stalled and signs are emerging that it’s actually getting worse.
Weekly unemployment claims are back up around 1 million (The all-time record was around 600,000 prior to the pandemic); it was announced this week that holiday retail sales in November — at a time most retailers depend on to make or break their year — were in the toilet; and a new analysis from researchers at the University of Chicago and University of Notre Dame estimates that nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since June — the biggest single-year spike in at least 60 years.
Millions are already behind on their rent or mortgage payments and 1 in 6 adults who live with children said their households lacked sufficient food in the past week.
The scale of the economic devastation the United States is suffering is staggering. The stimulus bill before Congress might help people for a few days, a few weeks at most.
What’s more, in exchange for getting even the tiny amount of money directly to people, negotiators had to abandon aid to state and local governments in the proposed bill. Economists are predicting that most states and local governments will be in dire straits soon, if they aren’t already, due to high unemployment and declining retail sales and the resulting loss of sales and income tax revenue. This means teachers, firefighters, police officers, public health employees and others we depend on to keep society functioning properly, will have their jobs threatened without local tax increases or severe service cuts enacted.
During the congressional negotiations, strange political bedfellows have emerged — Conservative Mo. Sen. Josh Hawley and Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders who have joined forces to urge their colleagues to get Americans the help they need now.
While it’s encouraging to see elected representatives set aside philosophical differences in the face of an emergency, that and $4 will get struggling Americans a cup of coffee. They, and the people of the country, need someone with real power and influence to join in the fight.
On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump was on the verge of intervening in the House and Senate negotiations to lobby for a higher stimulus payment. The Post reported the president thought people needed a minimum of $1,200 and up to $2,000. Alas, his aides talked him out of taking action, apparently, for fear of “blowing up the negotiations.”
With his iron grip on the Republican party, President Trump could make this happen, probably without much effort — a mere tweet could do the trick.
The president is a politician who lives by his instincts, and those instincts have mostly served him well. In this instance, his instinct told him Americans are suffering and need a lot help. His instincts are correct in this case, too, and he should follow them.
The sad part of this for the president is that he been making this case back in October instead of focusing almost entirely on Hunter Biden’s laptop, he likely would have breezed to re-election.
With the likely end of his time in office approaching, the president could secure his legacy by following his instincts and doing what he knows is right — getting American citizens, small businesses, and state local governments the money they need now.