Let’s face it, we knew that at least a month ago. That may not be all on Nancy Pelosi, though, because Mitch McConnell has all but declared any deal on the scale discussed by Pelosi, Donald Trump, and Steve Mnuchin as DOA in the Senate. For some reason, however, Pelosi hasn’t thought to call Trump’s bluff on being able to out-wrangle McConnell on a floor vote by taking the $1.8 trillion deal apparently on the table and declaring victory.
Can’t anyone here play this game? Kayleigh McEnany can, at least in terms of the PR:
The White House on Tuesday tamped down expectations for a major coronavirus relief package to be agreed upon by the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election, saying House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi was seeking too much.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the proposal from Pelosi’s Democrats included stimulus checks for immigrants who are in the United States illegally.
“The chances are slim when you have someone like Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, when you look at the proposal they put forward and it still stands today,” McEnany said on Fox Business Network.
“This is not serious if we’re providing stimulus relief for the American people, it should be just that, for American people, for U.S. citizens,” McEnany added. “So it’s on her.”
Thanks to Pelosi, the White House and Trump don’t have to get tested on their pledge to deliver enough Senate Republicans to pass the bill. In that sense, and in the terms on which Pelosi keeps insisting, it is on her. Had she settled for the half-loaf, as a number of House Democrats in vulnerable districts wanted ahead of the election, it would have been on McConnell.
And now it’s too late. Without any hint of progress on those negotiations, McConnell adjourned the Senate last night until the Monday after the election. Retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) put the blame on Pelosi for the lack of action:
Senators prepared to leave town Monday night for their October recess with virtually no prospect of passing new COVID-19 aid legislation before the Nov. 3 elections.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke by phone for 52 minutes on Monday in what has become a near-daily attempt to narrow differences on pandemic relief between Democrats and the Trump administration. But there was no indication of any major progress. …
GOP senators have balked at any deal that could cost roughly $2 trillion, as contemplated by Democrats and the Trump administration. As if to underscore their resistance, they pushed their own $519 billion aid bill, which Democrats blocked last week.
“Nancy Pelosi refuses to move off the mark because she’s not interested in compromise right now,” Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, told Fox Business Network. “So after the election, I think we’re going to get together and figure this out. And we should, because there’s actually some things we can do to help — both to deal with the virus, but also to deal with the economic realities.”
Fair enough, although some of the escaping Senate Republicans must be looking at the rise in cases and hospitalizations with some concern. Governors — even those not named Cuomo — will likely have to start tightening restrictions on in-person commerce again, with more risk to the economy. That means aid will become even more necessary on a larger scale, even though the economic indicators are still blinking green at the moment. Today’s durable-goods report for September was better than one might hope, and a significant improvement over August’s:
New orders for manufactured durable goods in September increased $4.3 billion or 1.9 percent to $237.1 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This increase, up five consecutive months, followed a 0.4 percent August increase. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.8 percent. Excluding defense, new orders increased 3.4 percent. Transportation equipment, up four of the last five months, led the increase, $3.0 billion or 4.1 percent to $76.8 billion.
The numbers on business investment look even rosier:
Nondefense new orders for capital goods in September increased $6.6 billion or 10.4 percent to $69.7 billion. Shipments increased less than $0.1 billion or 0.1 percent to $70.2 billion. Unfilled orders decreased $0.4 billion or 0.1 percent to $593.5 billion. Inventories increased $0.7 billion or 0.4 percent to $193.8 billion. Defense new orders for capital goods in September decreased $3.0 billion or 22.3 percent to $10.3 billion. Shipments decreased $0.1 billion or 0.7 percent to $12.1 billion. Unfilled orders decreased $1.8 billion or 1.0 percent to $179.5 billion. Inventories increased $0.3 billion or 1.2 percent to $21.5 billion.
That’s a big jump in capital investment, an indication that businesses are confident about something. That took place in a month where further aid was clearly stalled too. That wasn’t in anticipation of an influx of stimulus cash, which has been cut off since the end of July.
These economic metrics strengthen Republican arguments against a larger stimulus, but that’s from four weeks ago, too. The rising cases and hospitalizations will change that calculus — plus there’s a big cliff coming for the millions of people still out of work from the first round of shutdowns:
Millions of jobless Americans are poised to lose their unemployment benefits at the end of the year without action from Congress to extend temporary aid programs.
A federal program paying benefits to gig workers and others (such as the self-employed, freelancers, contractors and part-timers) is poised to lapse after December, as is one paying extra relief to workers who’ve exhausted their standard state benefit.
In all, there are about 13.5 million people in these two programs — more than half of the roughly 23 million people receiving unemployment benefits, according to Labor Department data.
“There’s going to be an enormous cliff at the end of the year,” Stephen Wandner, a labor economist and senior fellow at the National Academy of Social Insurance, said of the expiring benefits.
The elections themselves will also change the calculus on Phase 4, but that will weigh heavily, too. It’s almost certain that we will suddenly see a big push to get something in the $2 trillion range passed in the second week of November, and all of the posturing will likely dissipate with it. It’s still a mystery why neither side seemed interested in acting in their own best interests, despite the best efforts of the White House to slap some sense into them.