Trump Does About Face, Pushes $1,200 Stimulus Checks

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 05: U.S. President Donald Trump stands on the Truman Balcony after returning to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump spent three days hospitalized for coronavirus. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

 Win McNamee / Staff

Hours after announcing he was no longer willing to negotiate with Democrats to reach a new economic stimulus package, U.S. President Donald Trump re-opened the door to some relief measures, including a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks for most Americans.

In a series of posts on Twitter Tuesday afternoon and evening, Trump sent conflicting signals over a potential deal, sending benchmark stock indexes on a rollercoaster ride. The S&P 500 Index, which dropped as much as 1.9% on his Tuesday afternoon tweet killing negotiation hopes, ended Wednesday up 1.7%.

“The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support, & 135 Billion Dollars for Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business. Both of these will be fully paid for with unused funds from the Cares Act. Have this money. I will sign now!” Trump postedat 9:54 p.m. Tuesday.

Less than a half hour later, he offered Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi a deal on stimulus checks: “If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?”

Lawmakers have been debating another major relief package on and off for months, but there are too many sticking points. Among them is the amount of additional federal aid unemployed workers would get each week, a critical provision of the $1.7 trillion CARES Act that had expired at the end of July. The $2.2 trillion Democratic plan passed in the House last week provided an additional $600 per week (just as the CARES ACT had provided), but Trump’s treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, had counter-proposed a $1.6 trillion plan that would reportedly have provided a $400 supplement.  

In his initial tweets Tuesday, Trump called the $2.2 billion Democratic plan “a bailout” for “poorly run, high crime, Democrat States.” “I am rejecting their request, and looking to the future of our Country. I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business.” 

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Fox News Wednesday that Trump’s administration was “still willing to be engaged” and that while he was “not optimistic for a comprehensive deal, there’s about 10 things we can do on a piecemeal basis if the Speaker is willing to put it before her members.”

Meadows said he had been discussing stimulus checks along with help for airlines and small businesses with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.