There’s a reason Mitch McConnell gave Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats a choice of either a lousy $600 relief package or none at all: McConnell wanted to make the Democrats look bad for either accepting a bad bill, or make the Democrats look bad for not delivering a stimulus at all. And for a day and a half, McConnell’s plan was almost working.
Then Donald Trump decided that he saw an opportunity. He threatened to veto the bill unless the $600 was increased to $2,000. Why did Trump do this? Maybe he was hoping that some small fraction of the money would get donated back to his election defense fund. Maybe he realized that he’s going to end up on criminal trial, and in his mind he’s preemptively bribing the jurors. Or maybe he was just narcissistically compelled to stick his nose into it. But regardless of the reason, Trump just handed the Democrats a huge gift.
Now that Pelosi has quickly and emphatically agreed to have the House approve the $2000 package, one of two things will happen next. Either McConnell will cave, and the Democrats will get to go into the Georgia runoffs taking full credit for the increased dollar amount. Or McConnell will force it to remain at $600, and the public will clearly understand that it was the Republican Senate who screwed them. Now consider that two of the Republican Senators are running in the Georgia runoffs, and will face voter backlash if they vote against the $2000 package.
Trump is a terrible negotiator and never was very good at understanding how this kind of stuff works. So maybe he doesn’t realize he just screwed the Republicans. Or maybe he does, and this is part of his revenge plot against McConnell for having dared to admit that Biden won the election. Either way, Christmas just came early for the Democrats.
If Nancy Pelosi swallowed McConnell’s $600 deal because she knew Trump would opportunistically demand more than whatever was agreed upon, and she could then call his bluff, and she actually gets more money out of this, they should just give Pelosi every award that’s ever existed. And if no more money does come out of this, at least the public will now understand that McConnell – and not Pelosi – was to blame all along.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report