NY Times reporter Emily Cochrane wrote early this morning that millions of Americans lost their unemployment coverage yesterday because Trump refused to sign the $900 billion aid package worked out between Congress and his Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin. "Trump’s resistance to signing the bill," she reported, "risks leaving millions of unemployed Americans without crucial benefits, jeopardizes other critical assistance for businesses and families set to lapse at the end of the year and raises the possibility of a government shutdown on Tuesday... The consequences of such a delay are dire, economists, policy experts and lawmakers said, particularly as the United States’ economic recovery continues to sputter and the pandemic ravages the country. Some warned that any resolution at this point may be too late for families who will have lost their only lifeline shielding them from the brunt of the pandemic’s economic toll, and will further burden overwhelmed state unemployment agencies waiting for guidance on how to enact the legislation."
This morning, Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey (R)-- a garden variety Wall Street conservative-- noted that Trump's legacy is in danger. "I understand he wants to be remembered for advocating for big checks, but the danger is he’ll be remembered for chaos and misery, and erratic behavior." You think?
The House is scheduled to vote tomorrow on $2,000 survival checks. It's hard to imagine even the worst Blue Dogs will vote against them. I feel certain it will pass. Whether it will or not, is about Democrats, who will still have a robust majority for the next couple of weeks. One member of Congress told me that "Pelosi and Hoyer have one firm rule about party discipline that I never saw them allow anyone to break: don’t lie to them about how you’re going to vote." There won't be a vote unless they are sure they will win it.
Then on Tuesday, Schumer will try to force a vote in the Senate. He will need backing from Republicans. Josh Hawley, the freshman senator from Missouri who helped persuade Trump that $2,000 checks was a hill worth fighting for, is determined to be seen fighting for this. Lindsey Graham spent Christmas Day with Trump and was suddenly very enthusiastic about passing $2,000 checks.
But handing out free money to workers is not exactly a Republican thing-- even if arch Republican Sammy Hagar did record the Patti Smith song early in his career-- and McConnell and most old-fashioned Republicans oppose the concept. On Saturday, Newsweek pointed out that "Most Republican senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have remained silent on the issue. However, a few GOP senators have publicly opposed Trump's demand.
Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, chair of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, warned the president on Thursday that attempting to amend the package would be 'a mistake... There's been some apparent misunderstanding about what's in the regular appropriating bill and what's in the COVID relief bill, and generally the regular appropriating bill includes things the administration asked for,' Blunt told reporters. 'It took us a long time to get to where we are. I think reopening that bill would be a mistake. The best way out of this is for the president to sign the bill, and I still hope that's what he decides,' he added. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky reiterated his opposition to any direct payments on Wednesday. 'I think giving money to people, though, who are already working-- look, my kids are working and don't need a check. They're not rich, but they don't need a check. And most working Americans don't need a check right now,' Paul said on Fox News."
Last night 12 million Americans lost jobless benefits because Trump refused to sign the bill. My Congressman, Adam Schiff, sent this to his constituents this morning: "Now, expanded unemployment benefits have expired, the eviction moratorium is ending next week, and the government is poised to shut down tomorrow unless Trump and McConnell act. We need Trump to put down the golf clubs and sign the bipartisan relief bill we already passed, and tell Mitch McConnell to bring up the bill for $2,000 checks for a vote. Either way, we need action, and fast. The longer Trump and his party sit on their hands and do nothing, the more dire the situation will become for millions of Americans."
Here's how USA Today covered it this morning: "Trump delayed signing the $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill this weekend and demanded that lawmakers more than triple the size of stimulus checks, leaving 14 million unemployed Americans... without an economic lifeline for rent and food. That has particularly hit minority workers hard, who face further household financial distress, eviction and hunger as stimulus aid dries up following months of deadlock in Congress... The fate of the stimulus package is uncertain-- along with the $1.4 trillion spending bill attached to the relief measure that would keep the government open past Monday-- which Trump signaled he may veto if stimulus payments aren't increased to $2,000 from $600. Now congressional leaders are scrambling to avoid a government shutdown Tuesday. The House plans to vote Monday on whether to substitute the $2,000 checks in the bill. But that is too little, too late for millions on unemployment, experts warn. The economic repercussions will be dire for struggling Americans as layoffs remain historically high and the pandemic forces further business closures following a spike in COVID-19 cases."
Nearly 5 million people, including 1.3 million children, will fall into poverty in January if Congress fails to extend temporary pandemic unemployment programs that expired Saturday, according to a recent study by Columbia University.
An extension of those unemployment benefits and a weekly $300 federal supplement would keep 7.6 million Americans out of poverty in January, including 2.3 million children, Columbia University researchers found.
The delay in the measure becoming law threatens to create financial ruin for struggling Americans who will lose their last economic lifeline, according to Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at The Century Foundation, a think tank.
“How do people end up in long-term poverty? They typically lose their job and their unemployment benefits run out before they can find another one,” says Stettner. “It’s a spiral that they can’t get out of that leads to mental health problems.”
“That’s what we’re trying to prevent," adds Stettner. "We don’t need to make this pandemic so much worse than it already is by not dealing with the economic consequences.”
An eviction moratorium, which was set to be extended until Jan. 31 in the bill, will expire at the end of the month if the legislation doesn’t become law. An estimated 30 to 40 million Americans could be at risk of eviction if the moratoriums end because they are unable to pay their rent, according to an analysis by the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan policy think tank.
...The pandemic has widened the historic income inequality for Black, Latino and Asian workers, experts say, following a growing divide between the haves and have-nots. Wall Street, for instance, has roared back to record heights after the fastest crash in history in the spring, but much of the economy continues to struggle and many Americans who don’t own stocks or retirement accounts have missed out.
This is all leading up to the two Senate runoff elections in Georgia two weeks from Tuesday. Over 2 million Georgians have already voted, more than the number who had voted early in the general election this year (2,005,535)! Republican incumbents David Purdue and Kelly Loeffler say they are being "crushed" because of their party's refusal to back extended unemployment checks, the $2,000 one-time survival checks and aid to COVID-strapped local governments. On Tuesday night we'll know who is co-president-- Mitch McConnell or Joe Manchin. Whoopie!
Speaking of which-- this kook lawyer/Trumpist in Georgia, Lin Wood is serious about defeating Perdue and Loeffler. In fact, now he wants to arrest them, complaining that they have been compromised by "Communists or China." Just look at the graphic above that Wood tweeted out to the Trumpists last week. You don't need many to believe this insanity and act on it for the Georgia election to be thrown to the two Democrats, who are leading in the polling right now. This is pure Q-Anon nonsense and it is freaking the hell out of the Georgia Republican Party, where a Q-Anon sociopath, Marjorie Taylor Greene, just defeated one of their own candidates to become a member of Congress.