Stimulus Checks Held Up Because Democrats Want Universal Mail-In Voting, Trump Says—But That’s Not The Whole Story

TOPLINE

President Trump on Thursday blamed the delay in negotiations over the next coronavirus relief package on Democrats’ insistence on funds for mail-in voting, slamming the party for pushing for funding that he said would lead to the  “greatest fraud in history”; the president’s comments come as stimulus talks between top Democrats and the White House have seemingly reached a standstill, but by all accounts mail-in voting isn’t the real reason for the impasse. 

KEY FACTS

In an interview on Fox Business’ Mornings With Maria, Trump accused Democrats of holding up negotiations by pushing for “$3.5 billion for something that’s fraudulent,” as well as “$25 billion for the post office.”  

Mail-in voting has become a major flashpoint in the 2020 election, given the health risks the coronavirus pandemic could pose to in-person voting.  

While funding for elections and the Post Office have played a role in negotiations between the Trump Administration and Democratic leadership, an arguably bigger piece of the puzzle is aid for state and local governments, a critical Democratic priority that has faced intense opposition from GOP lawmakers. 

Democrats are pushing for $1 trillion in additional funding for states and municipalities, but Republicans are adamant that the entire package not exceed that $1 trillion (the entire Democratic ask is more than $3 trillion).

Democrats have said they are willing to meet in the middle, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has dismissed that offer as a “non-starter.”

Mnuchin indicated on Monday, however, that the White House would be willing to put “more money on the table” pending a “fair” offer from Democrats.

Crucial quote

“It’s their fault,” Trump said Thursday after he was asked why Democrats and the White House are still “miles apart” on any stimulus deal. “They want $3.5 billion for something that will turn out to be fraudulent, that’s election money basically.” 

Key background

Trump took executive action over the weekend related to enhanced unemployment benefits, student loans, eviction protections and a payroll tax deferment. Those actions alone, however, aren’t likely to be as effective in propping up the economy as would legislation from Congress. While a deal isn’t likely to come this week, Pimco head of public policy Libby Cantrill told Bloomberg on Wednesday that the “framework for a deal is there.” It has now been nearly three weeks since several key benefits of the CARES Act expired, and the last $600 federal supplemental unemployment checks were sent out on July 25 in most cases. According to new data from the Labor Department on Thursday, 28 million people are receiving some form of government unemployment benefit. Without the federal supplement, those benefits have been significantly reduced.

Further reading

Trump Now Says Mail-In Voting Is ‘Safe And Secure’ – But Only In Florida (Forbes)

‘It Will Work’: Republican Governor ‘Comfortable’ With Mail-In Voting Despite Trump Attacks (Forbes)

Second Stimulus Negotiations Appear To Be At A Standstill, Here’s What Could Happen Next (Forbes)

Here’s Why That $400 Unemployment Check From Trump’s Executive Order May Not Happen (Forbes)

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