By abandoning stimulus deal, Trump leaves the public (and his reelection chances) out to dry


President Trump announced Tuesday that he is pulling a plug on negotiations with Democrats over another round of federal coronavirus aid, adding that he will not return to the negotiating table until after the election. Not only was this move unnecessary, but it also puts at risk the livelihood of millions of people still suffering from the economic consequences that accompanied our prolonged shutdown.

Trump is right that Democratic leadership has been demanding far more than it should be in these negotiations. One need only look at the past pork they tried to stuff into Congress’s first two rounds of coronavirus aid to understand Trump’s frustration. But that is no reason to call off negotiations altogether. The two parties managed to compromise on this twice before, and they can do so again.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants the federal government to allocate $2.4 trillion for its next aid package, but the Trump administration is only willing to spend $1.6 trillion, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. There is an easy solution: Trump should agree to spend more. Better to have an aid package that costs too much than no aid package at all. And if Pelosi tries to throw additional conditions on the package, Republicans should do what they did before and reject them.

Some have argued this does fiscal conservatism a favor. By tossing out Pelosi's price tag, Trump was putting America's financial future first, said White House economics adviser (and Washington Examiner magazine columnist) Stephen Moore. And he has a point. But it's impossible to ignore the economic pain much of the country is still experiencing. Unemployment is still holding steady despite the fact that most industries have reopened. Few places are hiring outside of the service industry, and many companies, such as the airlines, are preparing to cut thousands of jobs to make up for lost revenue. Our problems are immediate and should be treated as such.

To be sure, Pelosi is as much to blame for this fiasco as Trump. Republicans are probably right when they argue that she is intentionally refusing to compromise on this deal in order to hurt Trump’s reelection chances. If she cared more about the American public than her political fortune, she would have passed this package weeks ago.

But now, she can lay the blame for this package’s failure squarely at Trump’s feet. And she will be right to do so — because there was no reason for this. Additional aid is a universally popular and necessary policy, and by abandoning it, Trump is jeopardizing his campaign's chances and, more importantly, the well-being of millions who need help.

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