On Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi published an open letter to her Democratic colleagues, dismissing President Donald Trump's latest stimulus check offer. Pelosi broke down the offer point by point, arguing that, while the budget is increased, the content of the bill is still not sufficient for the American people. With the coronavirus pandemic raging on, many are desperate for economic relief of one form or another as soon as possible.
Trump announced earlier this week on Twitter that he was ending all stimulus check negotiations, causing the stock market to take a dive within minutes. Trump then back-pedaled on this claim, and on Friday he authorized a new offer of $1.8 trillion in stimulus money. While this is up from the White House's previous $1.6 trillion offer, Pelosi said that it is "one step forward, two steps back."
"When the President talks about wanting a bigger relief package, his proposal appears to mean that he wants more money at his discretion to grant or withhold," Pelosi said, "rather than agreeing on language prescribing how we honor our workers, crush the virus and put money in the pockets of workers."
Americans have been waiting on Pelosi, Trump and the United States Senate to make a deal on the stimulus check since May, and many are fed up with the waiting. In a prolonged letter on Saturday, the Speaker laid out her grievance with this new offer, explaining why she is not accepting it. Here is a look at the issues she raised.
Strategic Pandemic Response
Pelosi wrote that the Democrats and the White House "still have disagreement on many priorities," one of the most central being the response to the coronavirus itself. She wrote: "A key concern is the absence of any response on a strategic plan to crush the virus. We cannot safely reopen schools, the economy and our communities until we crush the virus with the science-based, national plan for testing, tracing, treatment and isolation, and for the equitable and ethical distribution of a safe and effective vaccine once developed."
"This strategic plan is contained in the Heroes Act," Pelosi added.prevnext
Pelosi used the example of a family of four with an annual gross income of $24,000 to illustrate how the HEROES Act would provide more direct relief than Trump's new proposal. Under this plan, she wrote, the family would be eligible for $9,890 in direct relief — taking into account some of the programs described below. Trump's proposal removes these programs, while still including others that only benefit wealthy Americans.prevnext
Earned Income Tax Credit
Under Pelosi's plan, any parents who lost all of their income in 2020 would be eligible for an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) — worth up to $5,920. This would be a refund on their 2019 taxes.prevnext
Child Tax Credit and Child Dependent Care Tax Credit
Similarly, the HEROES Act includes a Child Tax Credit and a Child Dependent Care Tax Credit — refunds of up to $4,000 for families with two children. Again, the White House's new proposal does not include either of these programs.prevnext
The latest revision of the HEROES Act included $57 billion in funding for child care, given the closure of many schools. This would allow parents to go to work while their children had a safe place to learn, even if they are taking classes online or in a hybrid set-up.
Trump's proposal includes just $25 billion for these efforts — no increase from the last proposal, despite the overall price increase.prevnext
Finally, one of the most controversial programs throughout these months-long negotiations has been enhanced unemployment insurance, and that has not changed. Pelosi's new HEROES Act includes an additional $600 per week for qualifying Americans claiming unemployment — a figure that she says Democrats got from economic experts. The Trump proposal offer $200 billion lower, though Pelosi did not specify how much it would be worth per week.prevnext
Tax Benefits for the Wealthy
"At the same time, Republicans are insisting on a tax benefit for the wealthiest people in America, which is retroactive and therefore not coronavirus related, at the expense of tax credits for the families of our poorest children who are directly affected by coronavirus," Pelosi wrote. "At a time when children and families are challenged by uncertainty in whether their schools will be actual, virtual or hybrid, the Trump Administration is underfunding education."prevnext
"Despite these unaddressed concerns, I remain hopeful that yesterday's developments will move us closer to an agreement on a relief package that addresses the health and economic crisis facing America’s families," Pelosi wrote as she wrapped up her letter. "With over 213,000 Americans tragically having died, nearly 7.7 million having been infected and millions having lost jobs and income security, it is long overdue for Republicans to get serious and work with us to defeat this crisis."prev