Nearly 10 months into the coronavirus pandemic, elected officials have approved just one financial relief bill, providing working people across the U.S. a one-time payment of $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples. As Congress is in talks to push another smaller relief package providing people with just $600, enough for a one-time student loan payment, President Donald Trump reportedly wanted to raise that amount — and his ego, clearly hoping to leave office in a wave of popularity.
Trump on Thursday prepared to issue a statement calling for stimulus payments of “at least” $1,200 per person or as much as $2,000 per person, officials told The Washington Post. Trump’s plan would be a double-edged sword: Americans deserve more than $600 to make ends meet (they also deserve more than a one-time $2,000 check); however, Trump being the one behind it would also allow the president to take one last victory lap before leaving the White House. In his final act, Trump would become the president who did the right thing for suffering Americans, if only to make himself look better.
Nevertheless, Trump’s aides, along with other top Republicans in Congress, nixed the plan. “The aides were really frantic, saying, ‘We can’t do this. It will blow up negotiations,’” one person familiar with the events told the Post. Trump was apparently in the middle of drafting his statement when officials warned it would shatter the months-long negotiations between top Democrats and Republicans as they work up a relief package before a holiday recess.
Ahead of the presidential election, Trump stated he would be open to supporting a larger stimulus package than the $2.2 trillion proposal from Democrats. But again, Republicans threw a wrench in the works, instead pushing forward an inadequate $500 billion relief bill.
But Trump wasn’t the first to suggest a larger relief package. Sens. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey introduced a bill in May that sought to give Americans $2,000 per month for the duration of the pandemic. Every U.S. resident would have received the financial assistance, regardless of whether or not they had filed a recent tax return or have a social security number, making it an even more expansive and inclusive package. Unfortunately, the bill did not make it to the final negotiating table, and following the election victory of President-elect Joe Biden, top Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slimmed down the Democrats' proposed COVID relief bill even more.
As for Trump’s heftier stimulus proposal, a White House spokesperson told the Post in a statement that the president had “heard from Americans all over the country who are hurting through no fault of their own, and he’s made clear he wants the next round of relief to include stimulus checks at a significant number.” Despite what the president might be saying now, his administration has done more harm than good to the working class in his efforts to strip affordable healthcare, his attacks on labor unions, and his cuts to social security in the midst of a public health crisis.
It should be abundantly clear that any efforts from the White House to offer more financial assistance to Americans has only one person’s best interests at heart, and that’s Trump.