Friday, August 7th, 2020
I have no doubt there will be another round — possibly two more rounds of COVID-19 relief funding — prior to the election. The open question is when will it come together. At the moment, negotiations are at an impasse. Speaker Pelosi refuses to walk away from her $3 trillion wish list passed by progressives in the House the other month as well as continuance of the $600 unemployment payment that expired July 31.
In fact, Pelosi says her price has gone up; she wants no less than $3.4 trillion in the next package.
Democrats don’t seem to be willing to compromise on anything at all at the moment, from a bailout of city and state government financial problems that existed prior to the pandemic to marijuana legalization proposals completely unrelated to the COVID-19 outbreak. Pelosi even tried to say that marijuana is a successful treatment for the virus as justification. Not so.
It’s clear what’s happening here: Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer and the liberal progressives believe they can drive President Trump’s chances for re-election in the ground if they hold out a while longer.
The Administration has not helped themselves in negotiations by caving on the payroll tax cut out of the gate and caving on liability protection for businesses to protect against COVID-related lawsuits. It’s hard to get an economy going again when you can be sued for opening your doors to do business and then you can’t find enough workers to operate your business — a consequence of the overly-generous federal unemployment payment that, for all practical purposes and in many cases, pays you more not to work. The concessions on the payroll tax cut and COVID liability protections lead the Dems to believe they’ve got the Administration on the ropes in the negotiations.
Democrats in the Senate have blocked several attempts by Republicans to extend (for a short period) the unemployment benefits for Americans that need them until the broader deal gets worked out. This further proves the real strategy of the Democrats.
In the meantime, President Trump announced today that he will be exploring options to use his executive authority to take action on some of these issues, including unemployment insurance, eviction protections and student loan repayment options. Details on that are expected soon, likely over the weekend.
Democrat leaders need to drop their partisan wishlist and their political demands and work with Republicans and the White House in a bipartisan manner that addresses the needs of our economy and the American people. Eventually this will happen, it’s just a question of how long will it take. The only thing we know for certain at this point is a payroll tax cut and liability protections won’t be in it.