Trump surrenders to math and Nancy Pelosi on coronavirus stimulus

Don’t ever underestimate Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

When Republicans refused to negotiate over a second stimulus package for the coronavirus pandemic and stalled the Heroes Act - which passed the House in May - and Trump used executive orders to implement certain measures meant more to be a political cover than a real solution to the economic pain Americans are experiencing from the pandemic, many on the Democratic side were concerned that Trump would win the political, and eventually the legislative battle.

Those fears weren’t entirely unfounded, given that the election is fast approaching, and Democrats couldn’t afford to be cast as the party standing in the way of some sort of relief. Republicans still control the Senate, after all, and with the White House appearing completely unwilling to engage in negotiations with the House, the stalemate didn’t have a clear political winner.

Until now. Just this morning, Donald Trump once again surrendered to Nancy Pelosi, in a Twitter diatribe:

That highlighted part, “Go for the [Democrats’] much higher number, Republicans” is key. That is Donald Trump, the cult leader of the Republican party, telling his party in Congress that they have no choice but to surrender to the Speaker, finally negotiate with good faith, and get a relief package done.

But how did this happen? For a while, Republicans and Donald were pretty sure that they’d be able to play this political game to their benefit. Republicans would obstruct aid in the Senate while Trump moved in with nice-sounding executive orders for a nice PR win. They really thought they had Democrats where they wanted them, and that their PR gamble would force Democrats to pass a Republican corporate tax cut bill masquerading as pandemic stimulus.

But Pelosi held firm, and to his credit, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer backed her up. Pelosi, Schumer, Congressional Democrats were always willing to negotiate and meet the Republicans in the middle, but they wouldn’t give up on essential priorities such as aid for state and local governments and additional unemployment benefits.

Pelosi knew that Trump’s gamble would never pay off. The centerpiece of Trump’s PR executive order, a $300 additional weekly unemployment benefit down from $600 in the original stimulus, would quickly run out of money. The funds to create this supplement were taken from the Homeland Security Disaster Relief Fund, which at the time had $70 billion available. The fund was still required to have at least $25 billion at hand for actual emergencies, making only about $45 billion available for unemployment aid.

Let’s do some back of the hands math here. With about 30 million people unemployed receiving $300 a week (not that everyone received it, but that’s another story) , that is $9 billion per week. Follow the math, and $45 billion only lasts five weeks.

Guess how much time has passed between Trump’s August 8 Executive Order and present day? Five weeks and four days. Funny how that works.

Pelosi grasps the fundamentals of government as as she understands her political opponents. Ultimately, Congress still maintains the power of the purse, and Pelosi knew that math would make Trump’s gamble collapse, and once it does, he’d back, hat in hand, begging to be bailed out a month and a half before the election.

And here we are.

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