President Trump Pulls the Plug on Wuhan Relief Negotiations With House Democrats

Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour

For several weeks House Democrats have been attempting to use the upcoming elections as a way of bullying the Trump administration into accepting a second egregiously expensive stimulus relief package. The administration was asking for about $1.6 trillion, Pelosi wanted an over $2.4 trillion package that would bail out Democrat cities and states that have been hard hit by corruption, inefficiency, stupidity, and a desire to close every business in sight in order to expand the reach of government.

A little earlier this afternoon, the Democrats were gobsmacked to learn, via presidential tweet, that there would be no negotiations and no deal.

Nancy Pelosi is not taking it all that well:

Trump’s move stunned many on Capitol Hill, including Pelosi, and represents an enormous — and politically perilous — gamble by Republicans. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis has been heavily disapproved of by the American public and threatens to sink his reelection bid, as well as the Senate GOP majority, according to public-opinion polls. Now, Trump is betting he can convince skeptical Americans that he can save the economy, even as a coronavirus outbreak inside the White House has forced his own aides into quarantine.

Pelosi blasted Trump for the decision, pointing to the unprecedented scene of the last five days, with Trump having to be taken to Walter Reed Medical Center by helicopter after he and first lady Melania Trump contracted coronavirus.

“Clearly the White House is in complete disarray,” Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “Today, once again, President Trump showed his true colors: putting himself first at the expense of the country, with the full complicity of the GOP members of Congress.”

Pelosi announced the news of Trump’s tweet during a private Democratic Caucus call that was already underway. Pelosi slammed Trump on the call, saying Democrats had worked meticulously to create a “strategic plan to crush this virus” that Trump then blew up in a series of tweets.

Pelosi went on to say Trump, who just days earlier pushed for a deal, was sending the country “a terrible message” by appearing maskless at the White House Monday in his high-profile return from the hospital and recording a subsequent video without a mask downplaying the impact of the deadly virus.

Pelosi also insinuated that Trump’s rash decision could be impacted by the steroids doctors prescribed to help him fight off the coronavirus.

“There are people who thought, who think that steroids have an impact on your thinking. So, I don’t know,” Pelosi said. “I do practice medicine on the side without benefit of diploma, as a mother and a grandmother, but I hadn’t gone into mental health yet.”

On the whole, this decision is good politics and good policy.

Looking at the policy side, the previous Wuhan relief package created a lot of perverse incentives. Businesses were paid, ostensibly to allow them to remain open even though they ceased operations and laid off their workforce. Workers had their unemployment checks sweetened to the point that they were sometimes equaling or exceeding their work pay and could not be enticed back to their jobs. Cities and states got a windfall in bailout money. All the while, the US economy idled for no real reason; this immense boondoggle of a bill blew up the national debt to the point where even Democrats were scared.

The last thing we need right now is another monumental boondoggle of a spending bill to compound the errors of the last one. What we need is for businesses and government to have the incentive to say, “we’ve done this stupid sh** for long enough; it’s time to get back to work.”

The politics side of the situation may or may not be a gamble. The negotiations broke down over Pelosi loading the bill up with money to subsidize Democrat constituencies. She can restart the negotiations by ceasing to be a rapacious old sack of guts and negotiating with the administration in something that could be mistaken for good faith if you turned the lights down really low and looked at it just the right way. Many vulnerable Democrats had been pushing for any deal at all to help their campaign. Now they have nothing. Some Republicans are unhappy…

In my view, any impact from this decision is not going to be felt in the next 30 days and the imagery of President Trump slamming the door on Pelosi is not going to harm him with anyone who might possibly have voted for him to begin with.