After weeks of playing a political blame game where Democrats and Republicans took turns trying to out-socialism each other in response to the coronavirus hysteria sweeping the nation, Trump signed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Trump and Republicans took great care to avoid using the words “bailout” and “stimulus” in naming the bill. At first, I though it might be due to the low-carb diet craze — put the words “bailout” and “stimulus” in the titled and you end up with CARBS — but it turns out the real reason they avoided those words was their vain attempt to differentiate their record-breaking bailout from the minuscule-by-comparison $750 billion bailout they opposed under Obama in 2008.
When I pointed out last week how Trump’s bailout left Bush and Obama in the dust, I also mentioned how Trump and his family would benefit financially from the legislation, despite claims to the contrary.
Now that the bill is passed, we can see what’s in it because that’s how “transparency” is done now in Washington. And let’s just say that Trump will make out nicely.
Concerns about Trump personally benefiting from the bill’s $500 billion slush fund earmarked as loans to small businesses were raised when he pushed for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to have unrestricted power to give funds to whomever he chooses, including the hotel industry, and to keep the names of recipients private until after the election.
According to Chuck Schumer, these concerns were addressed in the final bill by adding provisions that will “prohibit businesses controlled by the President, Vice President, Members of Congress, and heads of Executive Departments from receiving loans or investments from Treasury programs.” Children, spouses, and in-laws are also prohibited.
Yet, it turns out Trump and his family will score big tax savings thanks to a provision in the CARES Act restoring real estate “depreciation” benefits that had been eliminated in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. These on-paper-only “losses” have been used by Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner in the past to avoid taxes on hundreds of millions of dollars of income.
The provisions in the fine print of the CARES Act blocking families of government officials from receiving assistance only apply when a person owns 20 percent or more of a company. It turns out Jared Kushner owns less than that amount in most of his businesses, and that means he will be 100 percent eligible to receive his share of the slush fund.
Apparently, these loopholes in the CARES Act aren’t enough for Mr. Art of the Deal.
In another display of his blatant disregard of the Constitution and the rule of law, Trump laid the groundwork for ignoring provisions in the stimulus bill requiring him to inform Congress about who receives bailout funds — a move that assures he and his cadre of cronies will pocket billions of dollars. In a signing statement, Trump said he will not comply with the oversight provisions nor the requirement to consult with Congress before reallocating funds.
Just ten years after the Tea Party movement, Republicans in Congress are defending a $500 billion corporate welfare fund for a select group of large companies.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) March 26, 2020
The stimulus package that just passed is the biggest wealth transfer from common folks to the super-rich (Wall Street and bankers) in the history of mankind.
Done in the name of a virus with $1200 checks as the cheese in the trap.
This will be obvious in short order.
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) March 29, 2020
There was a time in the days of old when those calling themselves “conservative” would have boldly opposed the CARES Act for the devastating impact it will have on liberty and the free market — a time when they would have, at the very least, refused to allow any president to ignore the law and the Constitution.
Unfortunately, we no longer live in those days. In the Age of Trump, nationalism is replacing conservatism within the Republican Party, a party now recreated in the image of Trump. Instead of defending liberty and the Constitution, Trump and his army of Trumpists are working to create an autocracy where they make all the rules and reap all the benefits.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable and promotes conservative principles over political parties.