Go home. Pelosi was never going to deal on unemployment benefits

Yesterday evening we learned that talks between the two parties over extending the enhanced unemployment benefits had broken down and the current $600 per week enhancement came to an end. There were plenty of other items on the agenda where Pelosi, McConnell and Trump couldn’t see eye to eye, but the unemployment question was obviously one of the most urgent targets to tackle. Congress headed out of town for the weekend, but some of the key players were sticking around to see if a last-minute deal could be cut. That led to reports that Trump and the GOP were beginning to get nervous and they might toss in some additional sweeteners this morning. (Associated Press)

The White House and its GOP allies appear to be retreating from their opposition to a $600-per-week supplemental unemployment benefit that has propped up the economy and family budgets but expired Friday.

President Donald Trump is eager to extend the benefit, undercutting his GOP allies on Capitol Hill who have spent considerable effort devising an alternative that could unite Republicans…

Pelosi, brimming with confidence, offered a tutorial on negotiating Friday.

“There are two things to remember. One is the person you’re negotiating with has to want something” for the American people, Pelosi said. “And they have to know you will walk” if you don’t get a good enough agreement.

Pelosi’s “tutorial on negotiating” is nonsense and she knows it. There are three parties involved in getting any sort of agreement out the door: the House, the Senate, and the Oval Office. The Democrats only control one of the three so they can’t unilaterally do anything. But to understand what’s really going on here we need to look at more than just policy disagreements.

First, let’s look at what the Speaker has been offered thus far over the course of the past week. The package approved by the Senate GOP included $200 per week through the end of the year. Both Pelosi and Schumer blew that off as a non-starter. Next, according to Mark Meadows, Pelosi was offered $400 per week for four months. She turned her nose up at that also. Yesterday the GOP offered her the full $600 for one week just to give them time to continue working on a compromise deal. Even knowing that that the entire program was about to turn into a pumpkin at midnight, Pelosi scoffed at that offer as well, intentionally choosing to let the benefit expire. And now she wants to try to blame the President and the GOP for the benefit running out?

It should be obvious by now that both Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi are looking at this argument entirely in terms of the politics behind it. The President wants to see the unemployment benefits extended for the time being so that people won’t be going broke and growing increasingly restless. Conversely – and this is the key point to remember – Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats have been doing their level best to keep the country shut down as much as possible and block any sort of economic recovery until November. If people are hurting, they tend to vote against the party in power. Canceling the enhanced unemployment benefits works precisely toward that purpose. If people can’t pay their rent and other bills, public satisfaction will plummet even faster. The Democrats see this as a bonus because they believe it helps their chances in November. Sadly, history shows us that they may be correct.

Right from the beginning, both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have approached these negotiations with a “my way or the highway” attitude. Pass the House version of next stimulus package and give them 100% of what they want or there’s no deal. If they had managed to get the GOP and the White House to go along with it they could claim the victory “for the people” and fundraise off of that. If not, they manage to tank the economy even further and just try to ride out the storm until November when they believe the battered condition of the country will pave the way for a Democratic takeover of the Senate majority and a Joe Biden presidency.

At this point, the GOP should just walk away. Nancy Pelosi has no intention of acting reasonably and sees no benefit in making a deal. Team GOP would probably make better use of their time by pointing out exactly what the Democrats are up to and leaving Chuck and Nancy to stew in their own juices.

Jazz Shaw Aug 14, 2022 5:31 PM ET