WASHINGTON — When President Donald Trump was asked Thursday why he hadn’t just accepted Democrats’ coronavirus stimulus offer of $2.2 trillion, his answer was a bit surprising: pride.
During an interview on Fox Business, Trump said he wanted to spend more than the $1.8 trillion his administration had offered, but that he couldn’t accept House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s proposal because she wants “goodies.”
“She wants to bail out badly run Democrat states and cities,” Trump said. “She wants money for things that you would never ― just, your pride couldn’t let it happen.”
For the tens of millions of people who are unemployed, as well as the more than 200 million Americans who would receive a stimulus check, “pride” and Pelosi’s desire for “goodies” — such as more money for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing — may seem like insufficient reasons to reject the offer. But it perfectly explains Trump.
Trump on one hand wants a deal beyond the $1.8 trillion stimulus offer on the table, but he doesn’t want Pelosi to win. He can’t let the California Democrat, who has refused to take the administration’s offers, just get what she wants — namely, more aid for state and local governments, higher unemployment benefits and more money for coronavirus testing.
The president did say, however, that he wants the money beyond $1.8 trillion to go “to the worker” and “to the people.”
”So they can live nicely and their lives won’t be shattered because of China,” Trump told Fox Business, once again blaming the East Asian country for the pandemic and for his own administration’s bungling of the public health crisis.
The Democratic proposal would actually deliver more money directly to the people, because Democrats have wanted to bring back the extra $600 unemployment benefit that lapsed in July while the Trump administration has offered to set the extra benefit at $400. (Republicans in Congress are generally more hostile to providing the supplemental benefit at all). Democrats have also insisted on bigger tax credits for workers with low incomes.
So less than three weeks before Election Day, with the window closing for Trump to goad the Republican Senate into action, the president has acknowledged that his own pride is stopping him from getting a deal done.
Meanwhile, Pelosi continues to insist on her own version of the deal, unwilling to take the $1.8 trillion offer and so far unwilling to meet in the middle at, say, $2 trillion.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the administration’s lead negotiator, said Thursday that the White House wouldn’t get hung up on extra money for coronavirus testing, seemingly conceding to a key Democratic demand. But Trump faulted him for not getting the overall deal done.
“So far he hasn’t come home with the bacon,” Trump said.
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