NBC's Todd: Pelosi, Schumer playing with fire on COVID-19 paycheck protection relief

And not just because Democrats have put themselves in the position of obstructing badly needed relief, either. Chuck Todd tells Hugh Hewitt that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have made the same mistake that both parties have made in the past when it comes to budget fights and government shutdowns — miscalculating the patience that voters have with food fights in normal times. When jobs are getting obliterated like they are in this crisis, Todd says the smarter move would be to cooperate now and deliver the bill later.

He thinks Democrats are “being genuine” about their concern for state-government relief, though:

HH: Okay, that’s fair. I want to turn to the PPP. I have Brad Dinsmore coming on in a little bit. He is the president of Pacific Mercantile Bank. They lent the Nixon Foundation, which I run, our PPP. They got it done. They’ve saved tens of thousands of jobs. That is running out of money today or tomorrow. I think Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer are running a grave risk, Chuck, if they do not appropriate this money. How do you analyze this?

CT: Look, I think any side that is on the side that looks like they’re holding up money, I think, is bad politics. I think, I think that the Democrats are genuine in their sticking up for the governors here. I think that’s what they believe they’re doing. I believe they think that you know, Cuomo and Hogan are basically lobbying on their side on this, right, the two national governors. They’re like we need our money, too. So I think that’s what Democrats are calculating, that this is, this is, you know, if you look at it through one eye, it looks like they’re holding up small business money. If you look at it through the other one, hey, governors are asking for their money. So I think that’s what the Democrats are calculating. I don’t know if that’s coming to fruition, though. I think that small business money issue is something that’s more front and center with the public than the issue of reimbursing the states. And so I think that on a perception marker here, sort of you’re short term politics, I think the Republicans have the upper hand.

HH: You’re never wrong. This is why I have Chuck on every week. You’re never wrong on the Hot Line stuff. And this is what’s happening. They’ve misjudged again.

CT: Yeah.

HH: Chuck Schumer did this before on a shutdown, and they have miscalculated the impact of people getting laid off.

CT: You know, here’s the thing. It’s really interesting here, and they each, I think at times, almost miscalculated, right? I think when some House Republicans wanted to mess around, it was like don’t do that. You know, and one of these things, so this is one of those where Schumer and Pelosi, I think, could basically give them this, hold the chit, and then come back and be more powerful when they come back for their ask in three weeks.

HH: Yes. Absolutely.

Small-business money is “more front and center with the public,” because the public owns, patronizes, and/or work at small businesses all over America. Their local restaurants, their hair and nail salons, their butchers and bakers and candlestick makers largely come from that sector of the economy. Those independent businesses will make a large difference in whether we have an economic recovery, since nearly half of all American workers are employed by firms with fewer than 100 employees (using 2018 data).

State and local governments, on the other hand, employed 12.6% of all workers in 2018. Americans can do the math, even if Pelosi and Schumer can’t. Furthermore, no one really believes that the bureaucratic jobs will be lost for long, but small business jobs will get destroyed very quickly when businesses fail, and there won’t be any way to bring those back again. The real emergency is in the private sector that state and local governments are forcing to close for now, not in the bureaucratic ranks.

On top of that, Pelosi and Schumer are AWOL in this fight. Schumer tromped around New York City without a mask with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday, but Democrats won’t come back to Congress to hash this out honestly. While Nancy Pelosi tweets out her ice-cream stash, Donald Trump holds daily press briefings at the White House and at least looks like he’s on the job and taking care of business. Mnuchin is doing the same thing. It’s going to be really tough to explain why Pelosi and Schumer are holding up funds for half of all American workers just to protect bureaucrats whose jobs aren’t really at risk in the long term. In fact, that would be a great question for Chuck Todd to ask them.