Stimulus Bill Update; Biden’s VP Process Annoys the Party
Author: Greg Valliere
August 4, 2020
WE STILL ANTICIPATE PASSAGE OF A STIMULUS BILL, and we still think it will be mid-August before the deal is finally done.
PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS JOINED THE DEBATE with a threat to use executive action to get some stimulus; could he really instruct the Internal Revenue Service not to collect the payroll tax? Could he extend eviction relief by presidential order? It’s unclear, but the negotiators needed a wake-up call.
TRUMP HASN’T BEEN DIRECTLY INVOLVED in the talks, but his threat to take executive action has an impact, motivating negotiators who don’t want to lose their pet issues — aid to state and local governments for the Democrats, and business liability protection for the GOP. Trump may be willing to throw the latter issue under the bus, which would get Mitch McConnell back in the game.
WE NEVER THOUGHT THE REAL DEADLINE was last Friday, when unemployment benefits expired. A more realistic deadline is this Friday, Aug. 7, when the Congressional summer recess is scheduled to begin. We think both sides will be close to a deal by then, with a final package winning approval some time next week.
MANY OF THE ISSUES HAVE BEEN RESOLVED: About $100 billion for colleges and K thru 12 schools; another round of $1,200 checks to most Americans; more funding for hospitals and Covid-19 testing. The strong consensus for these provisions ultimately will prod negotiators to compromise on other issues.
SO WE WILL STICK WITH OUR ODDS: There’s still a 70-30 chance of a bill, hardly a slam dunk, with plenty of potholes lurking — including the reluctance of many Republicans to go any higher than a $1 trillion price tag. Something like $1.5 trillion still looks like the ceiling, which will prompt howling from House progressives, who want far more.
THE KEY WILD CARDS: A very weak — or a very strong — jobs report on Friday could make a difference. The surge of new infections in Middle America could add a sense of urgency. And Trump’s shaky polls could convince him that a major bill is crucial; he lost still another precious day yesterday, as his dispute with Dr. Debra Birx dominated the news cycle.
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BIDEN’S IRRITATING VP PROCESS: More and more Democrats are saying “pick, already,” as Joe Biden’s glacial VP search begins to pit potential picks against other potential picks. Surrogates of the front-runners are whispering about their rivals’ flaws, and there could be lasting resentments.
NO ONE’S PERFECT, and the longer this process lasts, the more flaws become apparent — Karen Bass’ affection for Fidel Castro; Kamala Harris’ track record in the Bay Area; Elizabeth Warren’s acceptance of segregated sororities when she was in college; Tammy Duckworth’s willingness to tear down statues; Susan Rice’s involvement in Benghazi; Val Demings’ ties to police unions, etc.
THE LONGER BIDEN WAITS, the longer these candidates will be identified by their baggage, which obviously is not what the party wants. Biden needs to move this week; Harris continues to look like the most logical pick, with Duckworth and Demings still very much in the running.
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