President Trump backs out of COVID-19 economic relief talks

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President Trump has ended negotiations with congressional leaders on a COVID-19 economic relief plan, signaling his intent to wait until after the Nov. 3 election.

In a series of tweets, which passes for official presidential proclamation in the Trump era, the president claimed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had pushed for trillions of dollars in bailout money for “poorly run, high crime” Democrat-run states in the package, and suggested that she was “not negotiating in good faith.”

“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major stimulus bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and small business,” Trump said via tweet.

The move was met with predictable criticism from Democrats, but also, maybe surprisingly, from the business community as well.

“Washington’s failure to enact additional COVID relief will be felt on Main Streets and at kitchen tables across the United States,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley.

“It is especially disappointing given that less than a month ago a bipartisan group of members of Congress outlined a reasonable compromise that would have provided the economy with the support it needs while helping our nation recover from this pandemic. Republican and Democratic leaders should follow their example,” Bradley said.

Now to the Democrats. Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA-08), the top House member on Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, said Trump’s “stunning reversal” on stimulus negotiations “could not have come at a worse time.”

“Just as a bipartisan deal to support American families, boost the economy, and fight the pandemic seemed increasingly promising, the president made the bewildering decision to walk away from talks completely,” Beyer said. “His tweets justifying this erratic about-face misstated Democrats’ compromise position, formalized in recently passed legislation, by hundreds of billions of dollars, showing he is either unaware of what is happening with negotiations or deliberately trying to mislead the country.

“The U.S. economy needs this deal, and last month’s alarming jobs report shows how urgent that need is,” Beyer said. “Tens of millions of unemployed workers, millions of public sector jobs, and vast numbers of small businesses are on the edge of disaster. Senate Republicans behaved terribly in forcing them to wait for government assistance for months after we passed a robust Heroes Act in May. If they delay a new assistance package months longer, it will imperil the economic recovery.

“Walking away from talks means walking away from protecting schools, walking away from a strong pandemic response, and walking away from American families that need help now. It is hard to comprehend such an irrational, reckless, and destructive act,” Beyer said.

Trump’s sudden exit from stimulus talks came hours after Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned that failure to pass another aid package could derail the economic recovery.

Mass layoffs in airlines and other industries may proliferate without further government spending to support the economy, and an estimated 40 percent of restaurants are on the brink of closure.

“Our nation’s response to COVID-19 is not a game, and as each day passes without progress on a bipartisan relief package, Americans are facing the increasing effects of hunger, bankruptcy, or the loss of a job,” said Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07). “Just today, we heard from the Chairman of the Federal Reserve about the pressing need for additional action from Congress, or else risk further economic disaster. I’ve been vocal about the need for a bipartisan path forward on direct payments, unemployment assistance, and additional support for businesses — and the president throwing in the towel is not an acceptable option.

“The American people are tired of the political maneuvering and partisanship that has plagued Capitol Hill throughout the latter portion of the pandemic. Real livelihoods are on the line, and we can’t stop fighting for the people we serve. Both Democrats and Republicans must recommit to good-faith negotiations,” Spanberger said.

Story by Chris Graham


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