Mass Confusion As Washington Careens Towards Crisis was a Sunday Washington Post headline-- for a report by Jeff Stein and Toluse Olorunnipa-- that would have been appropriate on virtually any day since Trump was declared the winner in 2016. The Orange blob is lashing out, nearly indiscriminately-- like a wounded boar cornered by snarling dogs and well-armed hunters. It's all over, Pig-Man; you're headed for the sausage-making machine. But he's going to take some of them-- and many of us-- down with him.
The government would have shut down tonight if he didn't-- dramatically and at the last minute-- sign the bills passed by overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate. All weekend he made it appear as though he wasn't ready to sign it or veto it-- and a pocket veto would have been catastrophic-- not just for Republicans trying to hold onto the Senate via two Georgia runoffs a week from tomorrow. This would have hurt the working class badly... including plenty of Trump voters. Stein and Olorunnipa reported that his aides and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle "appeared flummoxed about his strategy, left to interpret musings from his Twitter feed while he golfed and otherwise remained out of public view."
Had Trump not signed, tomorrow would have seen unpaid leave for thousands of federal employees across the country. Some would have been declared "essential" and, while not getting paid, would have been required to work anyway-- and that includes the military. A few days later we would have seen the end of eviction protection for something in the ballpark of 14 million Americans (including Jared Kushner's and other predators' hard-pressed tenants). No unemployment checks, no stimulus checks, no new money for vaccine distribution, no aid for small businesses or schools and likely bankruptcy for the airline industry. Yesterday on ABC News, Bernie reminded viewers that Trump is acting out as an "extraordinary narcissist," "pathologically" so. "It is insane. It is really insane and this president has got to finally get-- do the right thing for the American people and stop worrying about his ego." Someone got to him late Sunday night... and he signed... a beaten animal.
Stein and Olorunnipa reported that "When Trump released the video on Tuesday demanding the larger stimulus payments, House Democrats tried to move quickly to approve the measure, but they were blocked by House Republicans on Thursday." That was played out by Trump's #1 congressional ally, Kevin McCarthy, who absolutely did not block the checks without the go-ahead from Trump. Today, Pelosi will pass the measure in the House, forcing dozens of swing district Republicans to vote against survival checks that are much more popular in their districts than Trump is. And once it passes in the House, McConnell will seek to kill it without a roll call vote in the Senate-- keeping in mind that Ron Johnson (R-WI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Todd Young (R-IN), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), John Kennedy (R-LA), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Rob Portman (R-OH), and whomever the GOP runs for seats of retiring members Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Richard Burr (R-NC) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) will all have to decide who to piss off, extreme Trumpists or normal people."
“Everybody in the White House is trying to figure out what’s in Trump’s head, if this is a bluff or if he’s going to carry this out. He’s been confronted with all the facts and evidence,“ said one person briefed by several White House officials over the weekend, speaking on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal discussions. “Nobody knows what Trump is going to do. It’s a bizarre situation.”
One person who interacted with Trump in Palm Beach in recent days said the president had not discussed the economic relief bill or the looming government funding deadline. Instead, Trump has been far more focused on his failed effort to reverse the election result, lashing out at Republicans in Congress and members of his own administration for not joining him in the fight.
...People close to the White House described a chaotic scene in which senior officials anxiously await the president’s next move. Republicans have expressed increasing concern that the president’s move to blow up a carefully negotiated stimulus deal could hurt the party’s prospects in the George Senate races on Jan. 5. If Republicans lose those two seats, Democrats would control the chamber.
Writing for The Post on his own over the weekend, Jeff Stein reported that "Trump’s rejection of the deal has confounded many leaders on Capitol Hill because they had thought Mnuchin negotiated the package on behalf of the president. The treasury chief’s standing with many lawmakers is now in tatters just days before a full-blown crisis is set to occur. The president’s denunciation of the agreement represented a stunning public broadside against his own treasury secretary, who for four years loyally shielded the president’s tax returns, endured repeated presidential tirades in private, and defended even Trump’s most incendiary and contradictory remarks. Through it all, Mnuchin had emerged with the unique ability to walk a tightrope between Trump and congressional leaders, serving as an emissary in difficult negotiations. That all ended on Tuesday, when Trump posted a video on Twitter ridiculing the agreement... 'Loyalty and assistance to President Trump generally gets rewarded with humiliation. This is how it ends for a lot of people who work for the guy,' said Brian Riedl, a conservative policy expert at the Manhattan Institute, a right-leaning think tank... Trump’s shocking move to possibly blow up the agreement appears to have been his idea alone, according to two people briefed on the matter by White House staff."
At the root of the problem was Trump's cruel and narcissistic decision "to risk torpedoing the effort while raging against congressional Republicans on Twitter for not supporting his effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Trump has also expressed anger at congressional Democrats for not agreeing to a stimulus package before the presidential election." So... back to the cornered, wounded boar. He wants to hurt everyone. That's what he's doing now-- lashing out without much forethought about who he's damaging. Stein: "The result is that Trump’s final economic act in office could be to block an emergency relief package negotiated by his treasury secretary even as the U.S. economy is battered by a surge in coronavirus cases and a new wave of shutdowns... And even some people close to the White House say Trump’s decision to hold up the deal reflects his embittered mood in the final days of his presidency. 'He’s just angry at everybody and wants to inflict as much pain on Congress as possible,' one person briefed by White House officials on the matter said."
Now we'll see if he puts any pressure on anyone to vote for the $2,000 checks. We'll know today when we see how his congressional pawns, like Kevin McCarthy, vote.