Will the stimulus stimulate? Donald Trump, who seems to have had nothing to do with the actual formation of the $2 trillion bill, is exhorting Congress to pass it Wednesday. It contains all kinds of bennies for the Democratic party, including an obscure provision that enables over-the-counter drug reform. But the real shift is that the GOP is now embracing big government — and it’s likely to continue in the form of further stimulus bills.
The prospect of over a million workers hitting the unemployment line in March helps to concentrate the mind. And so, Republicans, who used to denounce helicopter money, are showering it on the average American, a nifty direct cash payment of $1,200. Then there is unemployment insurance. It’s being prolonged by 13 weeks. Sick leave and family leave are getting the go-ahead. Even the dreaded Obamacare is being pushed by the administration as it contemplates a special enrollment period. So much for Trump’s inveterate claim that he wants to abolish it.
The stimulus bill may further boost his poll ratings. A new poll from the Hill indicates that he’s doing quite nicely: ‘Sixty-one percent of registered voters said they strongly or somewhat agree that the Trump administration is taking strong enough measures to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19, while 39 percent said they strongly or somewhat disagree.’ Trump’s political predicament will become more treacherous as the death toll from the coronavirus goes up over the next few weeks.
But in announcing that he wants to open America up for business by Easter, Trump is laying the groundwork to blame Democrats for wrecking the economy. He has yet to supply New York, Washington, and California with disaster relief funds. According to Politico, he has only disbursed aid for ‘crisis counseling’. Donald ‘I take no responsibility at all’ Trump will blame Andrew Cuomo, Gavin Newsom, and Jay ‘the snake’ Inslee for botching matters. He’s already washed his hands, so to speak, of any responsibility for the spread of the virus by stating that it’s primarily the job of the states to acquire ventilators and other vital medical equipment.
Trump is going it alone. He doesn’t even have a White House chief of staff. Mark Meadows, who supposed to become the successor to former acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, told Roll Call, ‘I’m still a member of Congress.’ Smart move. Why would he sacrifice his seat to work for the bilious and cantankerous Trump?
Only this morning Trump mocked Mitt Romney who tested negative on a coronavirus test by declaring on Twitter, ‘I am so happy I can barely speak.’ Trump’s rage is likely to mount now that the stimulus bill precludes his family businesses from receiving any federal aid, a humiliating provision that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer insisted upon. Trump’s own properties are taking on water: the Washington Post reported that six of his top seven revenue-producing hotels and clubs have been shuttered. It would be no small irony if Trump, who declared as at the 2016 Republican National Convention, ‘I alone can fix it’, were to become the first president to declare bankruptcy while in office. He should savor his current bump in the polls. Unlike the economy, he isn’t too big to fail.