October 20, 2020

Stimulus Negotiations

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reported some progress in advance of a Tuesday deadline for reaching a pre-election deal with President Donald Trump on a new coronavirus relief package, but the same core problems bedeviling the effort remain in place.” AP News

On Sunday, President Donald Trump stated, “I want to do it at a bigger number than she wants… That doesn't mean all the Republicans agree with me, but I think they will in the end. If she would go along, I think they would, too.” The Week

Read our previous coverage of the stimulus negotiations. The Flip Side

See past issues

From the Left

The left blames the GOP for the failure to reach a deal.

“The really thorny aspect of the continuing negotiations between Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has nothing to do with federal spending at all. Rather, it’s the non-monetary price that the Trump administration is demanding to secure aid for unemployed people and for state workers who risk losing their jobs because state governments are broke. That price is the indemnification of employers from lawsuits brought by workers who contract Covid-19 on the job

“In [the] few instances where OSHA has leveled fines, the amounts have been laughably scant… OSHA recently levied a $15,615 fine against the JBS beef factory in Greely, Colorado, where 290 workers were infected with Covid-19 and six died. Fifteen grand was not even enough… to cover the cost of the funeral for Saul Sanchez, one of the six who perished. Sanchez worked at the JBS plant for more than 30 years. That sums up the state of play for ordinary working Americans before McConnell extends this liability shield and screws them further… Saving unemployment benefits isn’t worth it if we have to sell out frontline workers.”
Timothy Noah, New Republic

“There’s something fundamentally incredible about Trump’s suggestion that mean old Nancy Pelosi won’t accept a deal on any terms. If he wants one, all he’s got to do is tell Mnuchin to get as much as he can in last-minute concessions and then just agree to the damn thing. The two sides are already within hailing distance on the overall price tag, so splitting the difference on particulars should not be impossible. If Trump is serious about an agreement, his public and private negotiating stances need to come together immediately.”
Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine

“Even if Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Mnuchin come to terms, the Senate would still have to go along. And for now, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), deferring to the misguided concerns about spending and deficits of some GOP senators, says no. Instead, he plans a floor vote on a much smaller $500 billion ‘targeted’ package that would , among other things, aid small businesses and airlines but omit both the direct payments to households and state and local aid that a Pelosi-Mnuchin bill would include…

“Perhaps Mr. McConnell is playing bad cop — trying to pressure Ms. Pelosi into striking a deal on terms more favorable to the GOP. Certainly that is the most hopeful interpretation of a position that otherwise makes little policy sense and leaves him and his caucus in deserved political isolation. The American people continue to suffer the economic impact of the coronavirus, with the brunt of it being borne by low-income people and people of color. All sides involved in the negotiations over much-needed new funds should act with the urgency this situation requires.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

“The unemployment rate fell to 7.9 percent in September, but if you dig into the numbers, you see an uneven picture. Women are dropping out of the workforce at a staggering rate, as school closures and the burden of childcare often falls on women. For white workers, the unemployment rate is 7 percent, but for Black workers, it is 12.1 percent, and for Hispanic workers, 10.3 percent… Recessions are always uneven, but this appears on track to be even more so.”
Emily Stewart, Vox

“SNAP is a proven way to lift families out of poverty, reduce food insecurity and boost the economy. And unlike unemployment benefits, which have been plagued by delays, new SNAP benefits have been quickly distributed. The problem is that benefits are not sufficient. The monthly per person benefit is $136, which averages to about $1.40 per meal. An analysis from a few years ago indicated that the SNAP benefit does not cover the cost of a meal in 99 percent of U.S. continental counties and Washington, D.C., and food prices have risen considerably since the start of the pandemic…

“To meet unmet needs, the House HEROES bills included a temporary 15 percent increase in the SNAP benefit, equivalent to about $100 for a family of four each month. Such a change would significantly strengthen the federal food safety net. A similar SNAP expansion during the Great Recession helped to reduce food insecurity among low-income households, especially those with children… We have the policy tools to strengthen the safety net now and for the future. We just need the political will to make it happen.”
Sara Bleich and Sheila Fleischhacker, The Hill

From the Right

The right blames Pelosi for the failure to reach a deal.

The right blames Pelosi for the failure to reach a deal.

“The problem now is that segments of the economy are under continual stress because the virus is not under control. Employment is nearly back to normal in many sectors of the economy, such as manufacturing and the financial and information industries, but it remains at depression levels in three types of economic sectors: those facing capacity controls, such as restaurants and indoor entertainment; those that remain closed under government order, such as education; and those impacted by the public fear of mingling closely in tight, indoor spaces, such as transportation, office support services and accommodations…

“Economic relief measures, then, should be crafted to meet this problem… That means less focus on traditional stabilizers such as extended unemployment benefits and more focus on the ongoing support for industries as a whole. This doesn’t mean that we should give up traditional stimulus measures; people without work still must be supported during this crisis. But it’s unlikely such people will be able to get back to work at all until the crises enveloping these economic segments abate. It’s not good enough to keep laid off waiters and cooks out of poverty if the restaurants that would have employed them go out of business.”
Henry Olsen, Washington Post

“Rather than simply blocking any stimulus legislation that contains elements they object to, Republicans and Democrats in Congress should strike a bargain: They will accept the inclusion of a provision they oppose to so long as the other side does the same…

“A major sticking point from the beginning of negotiations on a second round was the $1 trillion that Democrats wanted to send to state and local governments. Republicans (rightfully) saw this as an attempt to use the virus to fulfill a longstanding Democratic goal to bail out states with large unfunded liabilities, mostly public-union pension systems. Instead of simply balking, Republicans should have offered to trade that for money to expand and make permanent the business tax cuts in the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act…

“Both of these proposals — while made more relevant as a result of the economic shock from the pandemic — would be naked attempts to exploit the crisis. As such, the other side would be very unlikely to completely accept them. The simple act of pairing them, however, would have served to isolate the sticking point, allowing negotiations to continue on other issues.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The House Speaker issued her latest ultimatum Sunday, saying that the White House has 48 hours to reach a deal before the election. This came after she rejected the latest White House offer of $1.88 trillion, which followed her rejection of $1.6 trillion, which followed her rejection of $1 trillion…

The mystery at this stage is why Mr. Trump won’t take no for an answer. A last-minute spending blowout won’t change the presidential race, and it won’t help the economy in time for the election and not much after that. Agreeing to Mrs. Pelosi’s terms of surrender would divide Senate Republicans and might hurt their chances of keeping a majority.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“When Americans see Trump tweeting stuff like ‘WE NEED A DEAL NOW, GO BIG!’, they’ll logically conclude that the president’s not the main stumbling block here. Pelosi can try to counter that by insisting that it’s not the size of the stimulus that matters most, it’s how money is allocated among the component parts, but most voters don’t get into the weeds on policy. She can also try to counterprogram Trump by insisting that Senate Republicans are the main obstacle, as they’re the only player opposed to a big package, but that’s hard for voters to grasp when the leader of the GOP is broadcasting his willingness to go even higher than Democrats will…

“She’s also getting pressure from the left to bite the bullet and make a deal with Trump. Progressives like Ro Khanna are less concerned with electoral politics than with the fact that fiscal relief really is needed urgently for working-class people who can’t find a job in the pandemic and also can’t make rent next month. It is … unusual to find lefties begging the Democratic establishment to compromise with the right on grounds that half a loaf is better than none, but that’s where we are right now.”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

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