David Gergen served as a senior policy adviser to 4 anti-working class presidents-- Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton. A life-long, conservative defender of the status quo, Gergen isn't a plutocrat himself, but serving the plutocratic cause made him a millionaire-- and the recipient of 27 honorary degrees. His conservatism has made him anti-Trump and last night, soon after Trump released his video demanding a $2,000 check instead of a $600 check, Gergen tweeted that Trump is a madman and dangerous for demanding big changes in what he arguably referred to "a compromise bill." The latest non-survival pandemic package was certainly not a compromise between the working class and the owner class. It was-- at best-- a compromise by bloodsucking conservative Republicans and bloodsucking conservative Democrats.
This morning, Mike Allen reasonably referred to it as Trump's chaos ploy. He noted that Trump "wants attention. As the nation moves on from the election and President-elect Biden names a Cabinet and addresses the nation, Trump-- mostly out of sight for the past seven weeks-- 'sees Biden being relevant every day,' one presidential adviser said. That helps explain the video Trump tweeted 14 minutes after announcing the pardons, calling on Congress to increase 'ridiculously low' stimulus checks from $600 for an individual to $2,000." OK but what's important here is that the $600 IS ridiculously low and that it was-- once again-- the greed and avarice of the establishment and their disdain for the working class that has allowed a narcissistic sociopath like Trump to gain a foothold.
It doesn't really matter to people facing hunger and eviction because of an ill-handled pandemic that Trump's motivations are self-serving and that his populist case against the anti-populist bill is hypocritical and phony. And it doesn't matter that the NY Times is in a tizzy about how to cover it. The establishment media is framing the call for a reasonable policy as a discussion of Trump's "preoccupied with the baseless claim that the election was stolen from him," rather than on the merits of what he says he wants Congress to do.
At least Pelosi-- unlike brick-brained Amy Klobuchar-- welcomed, or appeared to welcome, Trump's intervention. Klobuchar went on her pal Maddow's show to whine that "This is an attack on every American. People are struggling to get by right now, out of work, whose unemployment… the unemployment is basically going to end the day after Christmas if this doesn’t pass. People who are out of work, people who need the help... This was a hard fought negotiation. Of course, you’re right, Democrats were pushing for more funds for the individual payments. And he knows very well we’re reaching the end here with the unemployment, with the small businesses can’t take it anymore… It is the second biggest stimulus in the history of America. And for him to turn this down. Obviously we have the votes to override his veto but he should not be doing this right now when his own Treasury Secretary was involved in the negotiations from beginning to end. He is literally trying to burn this country down on his way out." Doesn't this piece of crap understand the difference in real people's lives between $600 and $1,200? I seriously doubt it.
So tomorrow, Pelosi and Hoyer (and presumably Schumer) will ask for unanimous consent to change the non-survival checks to survival checks. Unanimous consent means even one misanthrope-- think Justin Amash or Thomas Massie for example-- can kill the process. Progressives seem extremely happy to take Trump on his word. Look at these 3 tweets from Pramila yesterday: One, two, three.
Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi, a member of House Ways and Means sees it as a bullshit move by Trump, a diversion to take pardons off the front page. This morning, he told me that he thinks "Trump's objective was accomplished. He wanted to bury the pardons under something even more outlandish. He accomplished his mission. A big part of the pardons was to keep people from testifying against him and continuing to build a legion of loyalists for his battles ahead. It all comes down to his objective:
1) hijack the presidency and stay in office,
2) avoid prosecution or imprisonment,
3) stay the center of attention and relevant in political debate, or
4) maintain his base so he can sell subscriptions to his media channel, hold rally/concerts where he can sell tickets, continue to sell merchandise, and hold GOP candidates hostage moving forward.
The president does not intend to stay in office. His goal is to make money, stay relevant and avoid prison. He has always proposed outlandish things, never intending to follow through, but often to obscure other news of the day and to build his brand. He did not want the pardons to be blaring on the front pages. He succeeded. He was consistent and built his brand by attacking the foreign spending and asking for more $ for people (very populist). He will not be supported in his call for $2,000 checks by the very right wing conservatives he would need to stage a takeover. All a diversion."
Outside of DC, I asked my friend Matt Rogers, an insightful movement progressive running for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. "After being ousted in a popular vote landslide," he said this morning, "Trump is kicking off his attempt at 2024 by parroting Democrats everywhere in saying that the $600 stimulus isn't even close to enough for people. Too little, too late. Where was all of this populism while he passed his tax scam? Where was all of this populism when he went down to Mar-a-Lago and told his donors, 'You all just got a lot richer' while he knew that he was only offering momentary crumbs while getting over on working families who depended on SALT deductions? He is a conman to the bitter end and a criminal to boot."
I also caught up with Wisconsin state Senator Chris Larson who pointed out that "If Donald Trump was at all earnest about helping people in need, he would have been honest about the pandemic and offered real assistance earlier. A $2000 check would have come in handy if they made it monthly when it was clear this virus wasn't going away anytime soon. The reality is, Donald Trump is the textbook definition of a corrupt politician and doesn't actually care about our struggling neighbors. By not signaling where he stands on relief until it's well past due, he's further delaying life-changing assistance. Honestly, I think his showboating is just a distraction from the pardon-spree he's been on where 88% of them are going to people who are politically connected. He pardoned men who killed innocent civilians, tarnished what it means to serve our country, and put future missions in danger. He pardoned a politician found guilty of insider trading who used his position of power to get rich. He pardoned another politician who pleaded guilty to corruption. He also pardoned another politician who bilked conservative foundations out of at least $775,000 in donations and was found guilty of it. Trump even pardoned men who obstructed justice in order to help Trump specifically. This is the modern Republican party: the party of corruption, insider trading, murdering civilians, and putting themselves above the law. Unless you are rich, corrupt, an inside trader, a corporate criminal, or named 'Trump,' these guys are not looking out for you."
Moments ago, old friend and Los Angeles Congresswoman Nanette Barragan told me that "In a rare occurrence, I agree with President Trump and support his push to increase the direct payment to Americans to $2,000 each. The fact is that $600 is simply not enough-- it won’t even pay one month of rent in our community. I am ready to travel to D.C. as necessary this week to get it done. In fact, House Democrats have supported payments at this level for months. Direct payments of $2,000 were included in our relief legislation that never made it to a Senate vote. Republicans were always the ones pushing for less for the American people, and more for their corporate interests. In the big scheme of things however, I do believe that the American people need ongoing support in the form of monthly payments to make it through this pandemic. I will continue to fight for proposals like Rep. Ro Khanna’s Emergency Money For the People Act, which would send monthly payments of $2,000 to help lift up struggling families during this public health and economic crisis."