What Is Going on With The $2,000 Stimulus Checks?
Last night, President Trump broke his atypical silence over the COVID-19 relief laws that had just passed both Houses of Congress and set a second stimulus payment of $ 600 for certain Americans. In a video tweeted at 7:15 a.m., the outgoing president said, "I'm asking Congress to amend this bill and raise the ridiculously low $ 600 to $ 2,000 or $ 4,000 for a couple."
Trump is referring to the compromise legislation that both Houses of Congress passed on Monday. It was passed with veto-proof majorities, which means that Trump does not have the formal authority to prevent legislation from becoming law. However, he still has enough political power to be a major headache for Republicans who will be in office after January 20.
Will Trump's December surprise be enough to convince GOP lawmakers to increase the incentive amount? The truth is that nobody really knows. His announcement came suddenly and the GOP - particularly Republican Senators led by Mitch McConnell - has not yet responded publicly.
If the GOP follows Trump, it will likely be because they are concerned about the January 6th Georgia runoff. If Democrats win both seats in Georgia after Joe Biden's surprise victory last month, the GOP will lose a majority and unified control of the legislature and executive will cede to the Democrats. Opposing extra, much-needed money for voters is not a great way to motivate them to vote for you, and the usual wisdom might be that the size of the stimulus is well worth giving up in order to be in control to keep the Senate for the next two years.
If the GOP goes against Trump, it is because it contradicts everything the party has stood for, since at least Reagan is simply too much for lawmakers to be safely in power. It is anathema for the GOP to give money to the lower and middle class because it goes against their dogmas of trickle-down economics and "personal responsibility". Trump doesn't seem to really care about these things, but he's on his way out and the amount of power he will have in the party's future is an open question. And even if they lose the Senate in this Congress, the GOP is poised for big wins two years from now, as the White House party is almost always medium-term.
What are the Democrats doing with the proposal? House and Senate Democrats, whose more progressive wing has long been calling for far more frequent and generous stimulus payments (one bill called for $ 10,000 per month per family until the pandemic ended), are calling for the GOP and Trump bluff. House majority leader Nancy Pelosi urged House Democrats unanimously to send a standalone bill that will raise Americans $ 2,000 a month for the duration of the pandemic and, if House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, den Agreed conditions, the standalone bill gives what Trump is asking, will arrive at the Senate's doorstep tomorrow at 10 a.m. If Trump is serious, the bill should go through with no problems except for the Senate revolt. If he's not - and if he's simply sabotaging an attempt to help people - then the ball has been entirely in his (and the Senate's) court when he refuses his commitment to the American people.
If this all feels so much in baseball, it's because it is. What is clear is that the prospects for a $ 2,000 stimulus check instead of a $ 600 stimulus check are much better than before Trump's tweet. Whether this just makes them a slightly more likely improbability or something that could actually happen remains to be seen.
This is a developing story; You can find updates here.
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