This is the top story from our daily newsletter published on October 21, 2020. To have this and more delivered directly to your inbox scroll down and enter your email or click here to sign up.
92 Days and Counting: “After months of slow-moving talks on another round of coronavirus relief, the top negotiators on Tuesday appeared to be where they’ve been for weeks: making some progress but without a major breakthrough to report,” Mike Lillis and Scott Wong write for The Hill. “Speaker Nancy Pelosi had indicated over the weekend that Tuesday would be a make-or-break moment for the fate of the legislation, the day to decide if the sides were close enough to a stimulus deal to enact it before Election Day. Yet after a 45-minute phone call with the top White House negotiator, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Pelosi’s office signaled that while the parties are ‘closer to an agreement,’ there remain key differences requiring another transfer of proposals — and more time consumed as Nov. 3 quickly approaches.” Here’s what both sides are saying about this elusive stimulus package, which has been negotiated for the past 92 days.
On the Right: The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board says, “Nancy Pelosi is one slick operator. She has managed to blame President Trump for the failure of a new COVID-19 relief bill even as she keeps rejecting Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s concession after concession.” Pelosi, “rejected the latest White House offer of $1.88 trillion, which followed her rejection of $1.6 trillion, which followed her rejection of $1 trillion. She blamed the White House language on a national virus test-and-trace plan, but the real hold up is her demand for hundreds of billions for Democratic states and public unions.” The WSJ Ed Board writes: “The mystery at this stage is why Mr. Trump won’t take no for an answer. A last-minute spending blowout won’t change the presidential race, and it won’t help the economy in time for the election and not much after that. Agreeing to Mrs. Pelosi’s terms of surrender would divide Senate Republicans and might hurt their chances of keeping a majority. A Trump Presidency with Democratic House and Senate majorities would be a very ugly four years.” AllahPundit of Hot Air points out that Pelosi is “also getting pressure from the left to bite the bullet and make a deal with Trump. Progressives like Ro Khanna are less concerned with electoral politics than with the fact that fiscal relief really is needed urgently for working-class people who can’t find a job in the pandemic and also can’t make rent next month. It is … unusual to find lefties begging the Democratic establishment to compromise with the right on grounds that half a loaf is better than none, but that’s where we are right now.”
On the Left: Ryan Cooper of The Week says, “[The stimulus discussions] are a difficult situation to read in large part because President Trump is an erratic goofball who changes his position on fundamental questions by the hour and often seems to have no idea what is even being discussed. However, there are also large structural obstacles to more relief, created by our creaking and ancient Constitution.” Cooper says, “divided government… makes even routine government business hard, as there is always the temptation to refuse to compromise in order to extract concessions from the other side. It’s harder still when a crisis falls on an election year. Since the president is the head of government, and therefore the most visible and well-known politician in the country, his party tends to get blamed when things are going poorly.” Cooper writes, “the most common justification for our so-called ‘separation of powers’ — that it acts as a check on excessive government power — is not just wrong, but the opposite of the truth. In fact, with the legislature basically non-functional most of the time, power has instead flowed to the president and the courts.” Cooper concludes by pointing to “Osita Nwanevu [who] argues at The New Republic, [that] progressives and leftists should be eyeing the idea of heavily reforming America’s constitutional system, from expanding the Supreme Court to a national vote for president, to adding more states to un-bias the Senate, to simply replacing the Constitution outright. Joe Biden may win in November, but for the country to survive as a democratic republic even over the medium term, it is going to need serious work.”
Flag This: At the end of August, the Economist and YouGov asked Americans when they think Congress will pass the much-anticipated bill for the second round of stimulus spending. One in five (20%) of Americans said never. In September Gallup found that there is “broad bipartisan support for additional stimulus in the US.” According to research from Franklin Templeton and Gallup, “seven in 10 Americans (70%) say they would support the government sending an additional economic impact payment (EIP) to all qualified adults. Democrats (82%) are most likely to favor the federal government sending another direct payment to all qualified U.S. adults (based on their income level), with about two-thirds of Republicans (64%) and independents (66%) saying the same.” Finally, last night a CNBC/Change Research polls showed that roughly, “two-thirds of voters nationally and in six electoral swing states believe the Senate should focus on passing more coronavirus aid rather than confirming Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are scheduled to talk again today.