President Donald Trump has made it clear that he wants another stimulus check to pass, though his comments can sometimes be contradictory beyond that goal. The president has been supportive of another one-time direct payment to Americans to help offset the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, favoring the previous amount of up to $1,200. However, tracking his stance on this subject can be difficult.
Trump has publicly considered just about every form of financial relief on the table for the next stimulus package — including payroll tax cuts, vacation tax credits and back-to-work incentives. His position on each has evolved in real-time in interviews, speeches and announcements. In general, however, he has come across as favorable on a direct stimulus check itself. Many analysts suggest that this is because he believes a stimulus check will help his chances at re-election.
In a column for Business Insider back in May, economist David Plotz predicted that Republicans would support a large stimulus check, and would compromise on government spending eventually. He noted that Republicans generally focus less on driving up the national debt when a member of their own party is in the Oval Office.
Sure enough, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ultimately agreed to a stimulus check nearly identical to the first one passed by Democrats — with a good deal of input from the Trump administration. Even then, Trump hinted that he was working to raise the payment even higher, though he never gave specifics on comments like these.
All in all, Trump's commentary on the stimulus check amounts to very little, since the payment can only be created with a cooperative effort between the United States Senate and the U.S. Congress, which are controlled by opposition political parties. Still, it is worth noting where the commander-in-chief stands on the issue. Here is what Trump has said about the second stimulus check throughout this last round of negotiations.
A stimulus check is high on the president's agenda for the next coronavirus relief package, but it is not the only item there. Earlier this month, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told The New York Times: "The White House is still motivated. The president would love to see the direct payments to Americans; the president would love to see the school funding. There are several items we would like to see happen."
By now, the stimulus check itself is one of the few areas where Democrats and Republicans have agreed to compromise on this next stimulus bill. Like them, the president has turned his focus to other issues in the legislation.prevnext
Meeting False Alarm
According to a report by Forbes, Trump raised eyebrows over the weekend by saying that he was planning to "get together" with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to discuss this next stimulus package. This caught many Americans off guard, since Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows or his Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin have been handling stimulus negotiations on behalf of the White House.
Ultimately, it turned out that Trump was lying, as there was no meeting scheduled with Pelosi over the weekend, or even in the days that followed. Congress has adjourned for a recess, with many representatives leaving Washington, D.C. and returning to the districts they represent.prevnext
Mark Meadows' Delay
As of Thursday, Aug. 13, the Trump administration is also responsible for the delay in stimulus check negotiations, since Meadows is off duty. Meadows left for "at least 12 days" according to a report by The Sun, meaning he cannot negotiate on Trump's behalf. Many took this as a sign of Trump's lack of confidence in achieving anything in the two weeks to come.prevnext
'With or Without'
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
While Trump has insisted that a stimulus check is coming, he has simultaneously insisted that Americans do not need one. During a press conference from his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey on Saturday, Trump said that the American economy is doing well "with or without" another stimulus package.
"The foundation that we set previously before the virus came and hit our shore... we are recovering much faster than anyone anticipated," he claimed. As for the impact of stimulus packages, he said: "I think we've done very well. We've had three phases. We're in the phase four. 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."
About 963,000 Americans filed for unemployment for the first time in the week before the president's speech, and the U.S. economy is still technically in a recession. He cited few concrete figures in his speech. However, he later tweeted a series of graphs, apparently made by members of his own administration.prevnext
That same day, Trump gave an interview with Fox News where he said that he would not allow a stimulus package to pass if it included funding for mail-in voting in the 2020 presidential election. Trump has come out strongly against mail-in voting, despite evidence from political scientists that it is as safe as in-person voting. He blamed the Democrats for insisting on this measure, saying it left him with no choice but to withhold the stimulus check.
"It's their fault. They want $3.5 billion for something that's fraudulent," he said. "For the mail-in votes, universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion for the post office. They need that money so it can work and they can take these millions and millions of ballots. [...] But if they don't get those two items, then they can't have mail-in ballots."
He continued: "If we don't make a deal, that means they won’t get the money and they won’t have universal mail-in voting." Trump then criticized California for sending out "tens of millions" of ballots. "Maybe they'll go to everyone but Republicans. We're challenging it in court. It's being challenged at many different levels."prevnext
I have directed @stevenmnuchin1 to get ready to send direct payments ($3,400 for family of four) to all Americans. DEMOCRATS ARE HOLDING THIS UP!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2020
Trump also tweeted a number of relief measures he does support on Saturday, indicating that he was already taking action on them where he could. He wrote: "I have directed [U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin] to get ready to send direct payments ($3,400 for family of four) to all Americans."
While this post had an air of action to it, it was nothing new. Mnuchin has previously said that the IRS will be able to send stimulus checks out faster than they did last time — but only when they are approved. According to a report by Forbes, the checks may be issued within a week of the legislation passing.prevnext
I am ready to send $105B to the states to help open schools safely with additional PPE. DEMOCRATS ARE HOLDING THIS UP!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2020
I am ready to send Rental Assistance payments to hardworking Americans that have been hurt by the ChinaVirus. DEMOCRATS ARE HOLDING THIS UP!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2020
I am ready to send more money to States and Local governments to save jobs for Police, Fire Fighters, First Responders, and Teachers. DEMOCRATS ARE HOLDING THIS UP!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2020
Finally, in that same string of tweets on Saturday, Trump leaned into the blame aspect of his stimulus check efforts. He told his millions of followers: "DEMOCRATS ARE HOLDING THIS UP!" after each relief measure he was willing to take immediately.
The ideas in Trump's tweets were generally the ones agreed upon across the aisle. The stimulus check, the Paycheck Protection Program, and funding for states are not exactly in contention. Trump even claimed that he now favors a rental assistance program to help prevent mass evictions — a measure that Senate Republicans have opposed as Congressional Democrats push for it.prev