Politics

Pelosi Fiddles, Trump Burns Her

Having tired of waiting for Congress, the president acted boldly on COVID relief.

Douglas Andrews · Aug. 10, 2020

One of the benefits of having a businessman in the Oval Office is that he doesn’t tend to dither. Whereas a George W. Bush or a Barack Obama — or a President Joe Biden, for that matter — would’ve been content to let congressional leaders play politics amid a national crisis, the same can’t be said for Donald Trump.

Such was the case on Saturday, when the president signed four executive measures to bring COVID aid to unemployed Americans. (Only one of the four is an executive order, while the other three are considered memoranda.) Taken together, the measures are meant to protect against evictions, provide student loan relief, and defer employers’ withholding of payroll taxes. As the Washington Examiner reports, “Trump, speaking from his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, declared that each unemployed person will be given $400 weekly. However, that’s $200 less than what the previous benefits provided, which expired in July. Democrats sought to provide the same amount to those who qualify for it.”

Of course they did. After all, that’s what Democrats do — because they can’t seem to understand that when a government pays the people not to work, the people won’t work. The Democrats also sought to lard up their $3.4 trillion version of the bill with government giveaways, including bailing out state and local governments, propping up state-employee pension plans, and throwing more billions toward the U.S. Postal Service. “While Americans are struggling,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, “the Democratic leaders have moved about 1 inch in eight days.”

The president, too, had clearly gotten tired of waiting, and his bold move made mince meat of Pelosi’s reputation as a “master negotiator.” Chris Wallace pointed this out in a “Fox News Sunday” interview, and all Pelosi could do in response was to smile nervously, chew on her lip, and decry “the weakness of the president’s executive orders.”

Regardless of the legal might of the president’s measures, he’s clearly outsmarted his congressional nemesis. But, as The Wall Street Journal notes, he’s done so by resorting to a trick that Republicans denounced when Trump’s predecessor was employing it: “The good news is that President Trump on Saturday escaped the trillion-dollar terms of surrender demanded by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The bad news is that he followed the Barack Obama method with executive orders, one of which stretches the law in a way that a future progressive President will surely cite as a precedent.”

Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff expressed similar concerns before coming to the conclusion that the rest of us already feel in our bones: “As a political matter, Trump’s move looks like a masterstroke. Since the days of FDR, the public has always seemed to approve of presidents who act to ameliorate suffering while Congress diddles. A flurry of activity, even of the futile or potentially counterproductive kind, makes a president look energetic and caring. In this instance, Trump’s move might well force congressional Democrats to reach a deal. That outcome, too, would be a political win for the president.”

(Visit our comprehensive CV19 Pandemic response and recovery page to review our comprehensive timeline on government and political actions related to the pandemic, and see our related pages.

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