Early last week, the Mitch McConnell-led Republican Party introduced a $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus benefit package as a counteroffer to Nancy Pelosi’s $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act).
Discussions on the need for another coronavirus stimulus package began almost immediately after Trump and his bought-and-paid-for Republican Party joined Democrats to pass and sign into law the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) — a bailout so large that it made Bush and Obama look like fiscal conservatives by comparison.
One of the reasons another bailout was deemed necessary had to do with the fact that the CARES Act was set-up to fail from the start, thus making another coronavirus stimulus package inevitable. Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell admitted as much at the time when they called for more spending to address “unmet needs,” and to target “what we got wrong.”
“Look, I believe we are going to definitely need to do a COVID four. There are many needs that are unmet. And the problem may be of greater magnitude than people thought a few weeks ago.
“All I can tell you is I think we are definitely going to need a COVID four and I think it’s going to have to be big and bold because the problem is so huge.” – Chuck Schumer
“There will be a next measure. [It] should be more a targeted response to what we got wrong and what we didn’t do enough for — and at the top of the list there would have to be the health care part of it.” – Mitch McConnell
Ever since the House passed the HEROES Act, I’ve been predicting that Trump and the GOP would cave to Pelosi’s demands for more coronavirus stimulus money despite claims by Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell that her request was “dead on arrival.” After all, it’s an election year, and while coronavirus stimulus spending is bad for America, it’s great for the 2020 election.
It’s unlikely to help, since early indications are that Trump and Republicans in the Senate are likely to be swept away by a Blue Tsunami bigger than the one in 2018 when Democrats retook the House thanks to the biggest midterm victory since Watergate.
Despite their $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus counteroffer to Chuck and Nancy, Republicans have failed to strike a deal in time to begin their August break. One of the sticky issues holding up their
negotiations capitulation is federal unemployment insurance. Democrats want to extend the “temporary” $600/week unemployment benefit provided in the CARES Act until January, 2021 while Republicans want to see it reduced to $200/week.
NOTE: This benefit provided an additional $600/week to individuals already receiving state or federal unemployment.
Republicans claim their $200/week unemployment benefit is necessary because Congress needs to reduce spending — stop laughing — and because the $600/week unemployment benefit is too high; they claim it incentivizes people to remain unemployed since they can make more money by not getting a job.
In reality, the $200/week number was intended to keep the unemployment insurance issue on the table long enough to give Republicans time to come up with a way to give Democrats what they wanted. It looks like that time has arrived.
BusinessInsider.com is reporting that McConnell is ready to support the extension of the $600 unemployment benefit — if he can get Donald Trump to give him cover.
At his weekly Senate Republican leadership press conference, McConnell was asked about Speaker Nancy Pelosi appearing to draw a red line on the $600 federal supplement and whether he could support a negotiated spending package containing it.
“Wherever this thing settles between the president of the United States and his team, who has to sign it into law, and the Democrat, not insignificant minority in the Senate and majority in the House, is something I’m prepared to support. Even if I have some problems with certain parts of it.
“We know this is going to be a negotiated settlement. It’s not going to produce a kumbaya moment like we had back in March in April where everybody voted aye. But the American people in the end need help.”
Will Trump support a $600/week unemployment extension even though he claims to oppose it? Probably. This is Trump we’re talking about after all.
Besides, it was only yesterday that I wrote about how Trump is “considering” taking unilateral action if an agreement can’t be made regarding coronavirus stimulus, and he claims that his biggest priorities in the negotiations are an extension of enhanced unemployment insurance and another moratorium on evictions.
In other words, if the $600/week unemployment extension makes it to the final bill, it’s all but certain that Trump will sign it.
McConnell has agreed to let others decide this issue for him, then he’ll follow and support them. In Mickey’s world, that’s what leadership looks like.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.