CNBC presents Wax Figure News Theater (September 30 screenshot)

Could there still be a new stimmy bill before the election? The Washington Post reports House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had a very nice 90-minute call Thursday, and that both said they made "progress," so that's maybe a tiny bit encouraging, at least until you remember that Mitch McConnell controls what comes up in the Senate and has no interest in actually helping anyone hurt by the pandemic's economic fallout. All McConnell wants is 20 bucks in spending (for fresh leafy lettuce in his habitat) and corporate immunity from liability.

Still, this sounds nice:

Pelosi and Mnuchin have been discussing a new spending deal between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion, though President Trump has said he would support even more.

[...] They both cited progress in resolving one of Pelosi's top demands, for a national strategic testing plan to better detect the coronavirus. Mnuchin told her that the White House would accept the Democrats' proposal with some "minor" modifications, according to Pelosi's spokesman -- confirming comments Mnuchin himself had made earlier in the day.

Much of the rest of the piece is about McConnell's rejection of anything more than his preferred option, a $500 billion package that would have the precious liability shield in it, and his rejection of Donald Trump's weird "Go big or go home!" call to spend more than even Pelosi was calling for. And then Trump went to his bizarre "town hall" and blamed Pelosi for the lack of progress.

McConnell at least noticed that the White House and Pelosi were talking again, if only to say he'd completely ignore both, explaining to a reporter, "You're correct we're in discussions with the secretary of the Treasury and the speaker about a higher amount. [...] That's not what I'm going to put on the floor."

The Post points out that Trump started the day Thursday with a call to Fox Business in which he said Mnuchin should go for a deal much bigger than the $1.8 trillion the White House had offered in negotiations with Pelosi, complaining, "I've told him. So far, he hasn't come home with the bacon." Then he brushed off the very real opposition to a new stimulus package from Senate Republicans, saying they're "very willing to do it," but blaming Pelosi for not wanting a deal, explaining, "She's got a lot of mental problems."

So you know he's definitely negotiating in good faith.

"Nancy Pelosi doesn't want to give anything. She thinks it helps her with the election. … We're not holding it up. She's holding it up," Trump said.

Trump added that Pelosi is "asking for all sorts of goodies — she wants to bail out badly run Democrat states and cities. ... She wants money for things you could — your pride couldn't let it happen."

Trump said essentially the same at the NBC News town hall that most people didn't watch, insisting the only roadblock to a yooge beautiful stimulus package was Pelosi:

She doesn't want to do it because she thinks it's bad for her election [...] The fact is, she's wrong. She's in our way. She doesn't appreciate our people or, at all, our workers. We are ready to sign and pass a stimulus. I want it to be big. I want it to be bold.

Yep, Nancy Pelosi, who passed a big bold stimulus package in the House in goddamn MAY, then passed a pared down version of the same package in September, just isn't interested in getting a stimulus passed, because of her mental problems. Trump insisted again at the town hall that of course if he asked Senate Republicans to support a stimulus, "They're going to be very happy [...] They'll agree to it." He even may have believed it.

Pelosi, for her part, told House Democrats in a conference call Thursday that while Democrats have "maximum leverage" in negotiations now, the White House proposal isn't acceptable yet, and that she won't agree to something Trump can't yet sell to the Senate.

"The president's even said this morning that he wants more. He said the night before that, 'Go big or go home,'" Pelosi told her members.

"So, this is not the time to say, 'Okay, let's fold.' This is what we have been building up to."

Again, remember that all of this is being blocked by Mitch McConnell, whose only real priority is protecting corporations from being sued for letting employees and customers be exposed to the coronavirus. Anything else in an eventual package is of little interest to him. That too is almost certainly Nancy Pelosi's fault.

And let's not forget the very real likelihood that Republicans, particularly McConnell, don't expect Trump to be reelected, so they may just want to make sure Joe Biden starts his presidency with a recession on his hands.

Fortunately, the Post notes, Donald Trump also has some brilliant thoughts on how to pay for a stimulus, should a deal ever be reached (not likely!). See if this sounds just the slightest bit familiar:

Defending his call for higher spending, Trump repeatedly asserted without evidence or explanation that China would pay for the nearly $2 trillion stimulus package. "I'd like to see more money — because it comes back," he said on Fox Business Network. "We're going to take it from China. I'll tell you right now: It's coming out of China."

Asked how he would get China to pay for the stimulus package, Trump asserted: "Well, there's lots of ways. Okay? There's a lot of ways. And I'll figure all of them out. I already have them figured out."

It's true! He keeps his list of ways China will pay for an American coronavirus relief bill right next to his new healthcare plan, which, as you may have heard, is cheaper and better than Obamacare and will be ready in two weeks.

[WaPo / MassLive / WaPo]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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