President Donald Trump suggested the country is doing very well "with or without" a new coronavirus stimulus package when he explained why he refused to personally meet with Congressional Democratic leaders to negotiate a new bill. Trump also said the country is recovering "much faster than anyone anticipated." Trump's comments at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey came after the Department of Labor reported 963,000 Americans filed for unemployment insurance for the first time in the week ending on Aug. 8. Since March, 56 million workers have filed for unemployment.
At the beginning of Saturday's news conference, Trump said his administration's "decisive action to save American jobs" is responsible for the "fastest economic recovery in American history." The president added, "The foundation that we set previously before the virus came and hit our shore... we are recovering much faster than anyone anticipated." He said it "turns out" it will be a "very strong 'v,'" referring to the charts he showed.
TRUMP: "Thanks to my administration's decisive action to save American jobs we are currently witnessing the fastest economic recovery in American history." (The unemployment rate is currently over 10 percent!) pic.twitter.com/TAAlkfTCwu— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 15, 2020
Later, Trump was asked why he had not personally joined Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows during the negotiation process. Mnuchin and Meadows held talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced the $1 trillion HEALS Act. Pelosi offered to lower the cost of her proposal to $2 trillion, but the White House rejected this.
"I think we've done very well. We've had three phases. We're in the phase four," Trump said, referring to the number of stimulus packages already passed. "We've gotten everything we wanted and we've also gotten a great economy. All you have to do is take a look at these charts. Our economy is doing good. But we want different things than them."
Trump said he wants money for "the people" before once again accusing Democrats of trying to get $1 trillion to "bailout" Democratic-run states. He said his representatives are doing "very good" when negotiating. "Nobody knows the deal better than I do," Trump said. "When it's right, I'll meet. But right now it's not right. They want $1 trillion to bail out badly-run states. They're Democrat-run states. Will something happen? Possibly. But I want to tell you, the country is doing very well right now. We can live very happily with it [or] without it."
Trump on why he won't negotiate a new coronavirus stimulus bill: "The country is doing very well right now. We can live very happily with it [or] without it." pic.twitter.com/wdaDtNUJUk— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 15, 2020
Trump said he still wanted to do a new coronavirus relief package because "I want to give money to the people. I want to put money into the people's hands. They want to put money into politicians' hands so the politicians don't look stupid."
On Saturday, Pelosi sent a letter to Democratic House members, blaming the "complete disarray on the Republican side" for the lack of a new stimulus package. She wrote that Trump "contradicts his own negotiators and his own position" and called McConnell and Republican's refusal to provide more funding for states and local governments a "significant obstacle" to negotiations, reports CNN. Although the House and Senate are not scheduled to return to Washington until September, a deal could still be reached and members of Congress will get a 24-hour notice to vote.