After throwing a wrench into Congress’ plans to pass a desperately needed COVID-19 relief bill (insufficient though the $600 stimulus payments would be), President Trump has predictably spent the past few days doing absolutely nothing to fix the problem he created.
Ahead of Christmas Eve, Trump had announced that he would not sign the $900 billion stimulus package finalized by Congress unless it was amended to provide each American $2000 instead of the $600 that representatives from his own Republican party wouldn’t budge from. Democrats responded by proposing a new bill with those considerations, which Republicans of course rejected. Now even the original $600 payments are in limbo as well as unemployment benefits that would be renewed for millions of people under the bill, as the President has just been sitting on the legislation at his enclave in Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.
“Give our people the money!” he added in reference to the $2000 proposal, though the fact that the American people will likely not get any money at all in the next week is a direct result of his own actions.
Asked at his club this week about his stance — which seemed to have nothing to do with the position his administration’s negotiators took in the crafting of the package — Trump has told associates he believes the measure is loaded with “pork,” according to people familiar with the conversations.
Reminded that he proposed virtually the same spending figures included in the bill — which would keep the government funded past Monday — in his own budget this year, Trump has scoffed, one person familiar with the matter said, insisting his proposal was the work of the “deep state.”
Four years after entering office, Trump is demonstrating little aptitude for the process of governing. After paying virtually no attention to the talks surrounding the Covid relief package, focused instead of his futile efforts to overthrow the election results, Trump now appears oblivious to how his demands can be manifested into reality.
The bill in question also provides for funding for the federal government beyond Monday, and if it isn’t signed by Trump the country could be plunged into another government shutdown like the one that ran for 35 days in the winter of 2019. That situation would be a nightmare for a nation of people already hobbling along economically due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
But what does that matter to the President or the Republican party? Instead of making efforts to move through the impasse he created and get the American people much needed help from resources we paid into with our taxes, Trump spent the day after Christmas tweeting all sorts of nonsense about the election: calling Biden a “fake president,” describing the Supreme Court as “weak and incompetent” for not entertaining his campaign’s ridiculous and very much debunked claims of voter fraud, and lambasting Republicans and specifically Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for not defending his baseless claim to the election.
All of that is likely the reason why he has decided to hold the relief bill hostage—Trump is upset and wants everybody to feel it. In the meantime, we get no money.