Is the $600 benefit sweetener dead?
Congress enacted it in March. Now the Covid crisis is three times worse and Senate Republicans want to reduce it by two-thirds.
Perhaps I was too hasty in suggesting, in my latest New Republic column, that Democrats are just going to lie there and take it while Senate Republicans knock down to $200 the $600 emergency weekly add-on to unemployment benefits that Congress enacted in March. Politico reported yesterday that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said the Democrats are holding firm. I don’t know how to square that with Rep. Steny Hoyer saying yesterday that the Democrats’ position in negotiations is not “$600 or bust.”
And I haven’t a clue what to make of President Donald Trump—pausing momentarily from complaining that Anthony Fauci has better approval ratings than he, the president of the United States, and from telling CNN’s Kaitlan Collins that he didn’t know when he retweeted a video from Dr. Stella Immanuel (pictured above) that Immanuel thinks doctors are making medicine from the DNA of space aliens, and from telling Jonathan Swan of Axios that he didn’t bring up with Russian President Vladimir Putin, when he spoke to Putin recently, intelligence reports saying the Russians were paying bounties to the Taliban to kill American soldiers because news of the bounties “never reached my desk,” even though Trump received a written briefing about them in February, which, when Swan brought that up, prompted Trump to blurt, “I read a lot, I comprehend extraordinarily well, probably better than anyone you’ve interviewed in a very long time,” which is just the sort of thing bookworms always say—I haven’t a clue what to make of Trump also commenting yesterday that the Senate Republican bill is “semi-irrelevant.”
Apparently the situation is fluid. Anyway, my column about this for the New Republic explains in greater detail than I’ve explained before why yanking the $600 benefit is a bad idea.
Update, 3:20 p.m.: Aaaand now Trump and Treasury Secretary SteveMnuchin are saying they may extend the benefit (all $600?) temporarily.