So the Congress struggled for months after the House passed a $3.3 trillion followup Covid relief bill, which Senate Majority Leader McConnell blocked and kept blocking. House Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin kept negotiating and coming up with this or that proposal, only to mostly have McConnell shoot it down, or sometimes Pres. Trump himself doing so. Finally after the election, and with the threat of losing control of the Senate, McConnell suddenly decided a deal needed to be made, so sure enough, with Mnuchin supposedly representing Trump, a deal got cut. It must be recognized that the push for having another round of direct payments was pushed by Trump, who threw out several numbers, and McConnell got it that this was popular. So he went along with Mnuchin’s suggested $600 per person, half of what was sent out in the CARES round last spring.
The whole thing has also been linked to the Omnibus general budget spending package, which needs to get passed or the government will get shut down, with ongoing week by week Continuing Resolutions holding that off, the current one expiring on Monday. It contains mostly things approved in the budget sent officially from Trump’s OMB to Congress, although it is pretty clear he does not know what is in there.
So when the Congress managed to cut all sorts if possible things like aid to states and local governments as well as limiting liability of corporations for having conditions leading to workers getting Covid-19, but had about $300 billion for small businesses somewhat less for the $600 payments for those making under $75,000, not to mention a good deal less for continuing unemployment benefits set to expire the day after Christmas, and some other such things. Whew! It looked like this difficult, if highly imperfect, deal was cut just in time to keep lots of people from being dumped from benefits right after Christmas and also send out $600 to lots of people right after Christmas. Hooray!
But then last night Trump put out a video announcing his unhappiness with all this. On the one hand he called for something arguably desirable, a $2000 payment rather than $600, which has drawn forth Dem support at least from the House. But then he also went on a rant against items in the Omnibus spending bill not part of the relief bill, notably about $5 billion in foreign aid and also some even smaller expenditures on such items as the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and the Smithsonian, somehow suggesting incoherently that these monies were a wasteful part of the relief bill. While it remains unclear what he is going to do in the end, for the moment he is not signing it, which means unemployment benefits might start ending right after Christmas, not to mention people not only not getting the supposed desired $2000 but even $600, and not to mention that hard pressed small businesses will not be able to apply for any of that $300 billion supposedly available for PPP loans.
So, indeed, President Trump is the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
PS: And of course Trump is also pardoning all kinds of criminals closely associated with him and has also vetoed the National Defense bill, first time that has happened in 60 years, something that maybe should happen, although his reasons are to prevent renaming military facilities away from Confederare officers and also to remove Section 230 that prevents him from suing social media companies that censor things he posts. Quite a roll this grinch is on.