POTUS himself pulled the plug on COVID relief packages ahead of the election.

Donald Trump canceled negotiations with Democratic lawmakers on coronavirus relief legislation Tuesday, delaying them until after the election, and generating more uncertainty ahead of the Nov. 3 US presidential vote.

“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 wrote on Twitter a day after emerging from a hospital stay for COVID-19 treatment.

The announcement sparked a brief stock market selloff with US stocks down more than 2% in late afternoon trading. The president later appeared to do a U-turn, however, saying he was “ready to sign right now” a bill that would approve another round of $1,200 stimulus checks to be sent out immediately. House speaker Nancy Pelosi had said Sunday in a media interview that progress was being made with the Trump administration on a bill to supplement the more than $3 trillion coronavirus aid enacted into law earlier this year.  The talks had been aimed at releasing $2 trillion in fresh aid to fight the coronavirus. 

Republicans on Capitol Hill had opposed the relief bill of $2 trillion plus proposed by Democrats with many in the GOP arguing for something between $800 billion and $1.5 trillion in funds. 

The move could potentially be seen as an own goal for Trump ahead of the Nov. 3 election—making it a lot harder for him to blame the Democrats for the lack of a deal—yet it could also be used to rally support behind the idea of a conspiracy by the opposition to torpedo the proposal already put on the table by his administration. 

With some conservative senators facing tough re-election battles and campaigning on platforms of fiscal austerity, there has been resistance within the GOP to Trump spending more trillions of dollars on economic relief, no matter the number of businesses and individuals crying out for help. Also on Tuesday, the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, told a business conference the US economic expansion was “far from complete” following the deep contraction stemming from the coronavirus pandemic and that a failure to provide further relief “would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses.”

Financial markets were also hopeful that another round of economic stimulus from Congress would boost the US economy, which has been showing signs of renewed weakness. Yet Trump, perhaps unsurprisingly, is playing the game his way, determined to push his own non-partisan relief package post-election and gambling on the fact that political polarization will help his bid to reclaim the White House. Meanwhile, millions of Americans, pounded economically by the pandemic, desperately await relief. 

2020-10-12T17:23:22+00:00

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Paul Imison
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