Published in: Personal Finance | Oct. 17, 2020
By: Christy Bieber
Americans need more support and the president wants to provide it.
Lawmakers have been working to pass another COVID-19 relief bill for months. Unfortunately, one of the big obstacles is that those on the left and right can't agree on how much aid should be provided.
Democrat leaders have indicated they are unwilling to pass piecemeal relief measures or agree to bill with a price tag of less than $2.2 trillion. On the other side, a number of Republicans have balked at spending more than $1 trillion. And the Senate has repeatedly introduced limited proposals for more targeted aid.
President Donald Trump, however, has broken with other members of his party, suggesting he wants to offer more stimulus money than either side has proposed. Earlier this week, the president urged lawmakers to "go big or go home," when it comes to the next COVID-19 relief bill. On Thursday, he said again he was willing to "go higher" in providing coronavirus relief.
Trump gave further insight into his willingness to offer large-scale relief despite the price tag. He now says that he believes the aid money will come from China.
In Thursday's interview with Fox Business, Trump stated "I would [go higher] because this was not caused by our workers and our people, this was caused by China and China will pay us back in one form or another."
His words come days after officials negotiating on behalf of his administration proposed a $1.8 trillion relief package. This was larger than the $1.5 trillion the White House had previously indicated was the maximum they could support.
Raising the cost of their proposal to $1.8 trillion reflected a significant concession from the administration's prior position, but it was not enough to satisfy those on the left. Democratic party leaders have held firm in their funding demands, including in their insistence that the unemployed as well as state and local governments need more money than the Republicans are willing to provide.
Unfortunately, the president's plea for a larger bill and his promise that China is likely to cover the costs is unlikely to break the stalemate. It won't convince a majority of Republicans to cast aside concerns about fiscal responsibility. That is especially true as Trump was short on specifics regarding how the U.S. would compel China to cover stimulus costs.
In fact, although the president reiterated that, "We're gonna take it from China. I tell you now, it's coming out of China," he did not lay out his plans to collect the funds. He said, "There's a lot of ways and I'll figure every one of them out. I already have them figured out."
The Trump administration has, in the past, promised to obtain money from other nations to fulfill other key policy priorities, including the construction of a wall between the United States and Mexico. However, these plans have not come to fruition as Mexican authorities declined to provide funding. It is likely that Trump would face similar challenges in extracting compensation from China to pay for more COVID-19 relief for Americans.
Regardless of White House plans to secure compensation from China, there are other obstacles to passing another stimulus bill. For instance, lawmakers disagree not just on how much to spend but also on how to allocate the money.
With lawmakers at a stalemate and time running short, Americans almost assuredly will not get any more stimulus money in their bank accounts before election day. In fact, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin recently admitted that it would be difficult to pass and execute a bill before November.
It is possible that legislation could pass following the election, this may depend on who is elected as well as whether control of the House and Senate remain divided. Americans cannot count on money coming either now or after election day, so they should instead explore other coronavirus relief currently available if they are struggling.
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