by Wade Rathke
New Orleans People literally don’t know what to do. Random strangers will ask in social distanced lines at stores and gas stations, whether anyone knows what’s happening to the stimulus. Will there be one? When will it happen? What are we supposed to do?
Being president used to be the benchmark that defined leadership in America and the world, like it or lump it. Now it is unclear what we have other than a bloody mess.
Trump signed yet another executive order. He held up the paper he signed while at one of his golf resorts. This time about evictions and perhaps about some level of stimulus, possibly $400 per week. Is this real? Was it worth the paper it was written on?
Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, admitted it didn’t do much in the weekend news shows. Nothing for local and state governments. Nothing for testing. Nothing here. Nothing there. Meadows, a former Congressman, reminded the interviewers that only Congress can appropriate money.
This was a big Peter to pretend to pay Paul move. The money being moved was supposed to come from allocations already made to prepare for disasters, just as we read reports that this is supposed to be an unusually active hurricane season, particularly in the Atlantic. Small comfort that. The money is also contingent on states agreeing. In what has to be a gratuitous move, the president wants the states to kick in the other $300 to make up the $600 supplemental unemployment that just ended. Fat chance! Louisiana, as just one example, reports that their unemployment trust fund is pretty tapped out with only enough to make the base payments, one of the lowest in the country, for another month or two, unless they get help from the federal government. Tell, me friends, does that sound like money that can help you pay rent and make groceries?
Negotiations are at an impasse. Speaker Pelosi believes she has a strong hand and lots of leverage. She won’t take a partial deal, because with the election coming, she and the Democrats don’t believe there will be another stimulus effort this year, especially since the Republicans in the Senate are totally divided between the ones desperately facing re-election and the others trying to position themselves as the “new” Trump for the future. She reminds Meadows to his face that as a former Freedom Caucus congressional deal disrupter, “he has never done a deal.”
Into this critically important negotiation, the president, Mr. Art of the Deal, becomes a rocket launcher firing at both sides and his own people. What happened to the notion of leadership being to “bring the parties together,” “find common ground,” and give-and take? Too old school, eh? What happened to putting the people first, and the politics later? No one in their right mind can think that this mess and mayhem brings voters your way some day, when Americans are desperate today.