During a call with allies on Thursday, Trump said that Americans deserve “at least” $1,200 and up to $2,000 in stimulus checks, completely contradicting the measly $600 proposed by his own Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. This also puts Trump at odds with Republican lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who were long opposed to offering any additional stimulus checks.
The Washington Post reports that White House aides had to stop Trump from issuing a statement calling for a larger stimulus payout, worried it would nuke the negotiation process:
Trump was in the middle of formally drafting his demand for the larger payments when White House officials told him that doing so could imperil delicate negotiations over the economic relief package, the officials said. Congressional Republicans have insisted that the relief bill remain less than $1 trillion, and it’s currently designed to cost around $900 billion. Larger stimulus checks could push the package’s total over $1 trillion.
Trump ultimately did not call for the larger stimulus payments. His only public comments on the matter came in the morning when he wrote that “stimulus talks [are] looking very good.”
“The aides were really frantic, saying, ‘We can’t do this. It will blow up negotiations,’ ” said one person who heard the exchange.
If Trump wasn’t in the lame duck period of his presidency, perhaps he would be able to influence Republican leadership to take him up on his, frankly, superior offer. Despite the fact that Trump’s tenure has been defined by his callousness toward others, the man is still determined to be a well-liked people pleaser. People like money. If he could be responsible for giving people more money, then maybe they’ll sing his praises. This seems to be the Trump logic that, unfortunately, is unlikely to come to fruition.
The stimulus package Congressional leaders are currently mulling over includes the $600 pay out, but as of Friday, what looked like a done deal has yet again been thrown into uncertainty thanks to last-minute provisions.
But, hey, if there’s a way to sidestep Congress, the law, whatever, and give Americans some extra money, Trump is probably the one who would manage it and get away with it. He’s gotten away with plenty of other legally dubious clusterfucks over the past four years, why not end his presidency with one more for the road? I’ve got a credit card to pay off.