Politico first reported yesterday than Senate Republicans plan to introduce a stimulus bill when they return to Washington in September that will be even smaller than their previous proposal, but how small is it?
According to various reports, the GOP's new proposal is about half as large and, curiously, it does not include something that Republicans and Democrats have both agreed on: stimulus checks.
The Trump administration sees a possibility for Republicans and Democrats to agree on a smaller round of pandemic relief totaling $500 billion that would omit the biggest areas of disagreement, according to a senior U.S. official.
The official, who discussed the matter on the condition of anonymity, said Tuesday night that both parties in Congress may be able to reach an accord on issues like financial help for the Postal Service, aid to schools and more money for businesses to keep their workers employed.
But the two parties remain far apart on other proposals, including stimulus checks and assistance for local and state governments, the official added.
Senate Republicans and House Democrats agreed on the need to mail more stimulus checks as recently as the beginning of the month. If Republicans now disagree with writing more checks, that is a new position that will place any real stimulus further out of reach. They've also removed expanded unemployment benefits from their proposal even at a reduced amount.
I infer that removing stimulus checks and pandemic unemployment benefits from the equation is an effort to build more consensus among the Republican caucus because, as you probably recall, at least 20 or more Senate Republicans are opposed to doing anything at all. It looks like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is sacrificing parts of his original proposal to bring more Republicans on board. But to what end? Another failed vote?
For their part, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Democrats are reasonably willing to split their stimulus bill and pass half now and half in January, but even that does not currently appear to be enough to bring the Trump White House onboard.
I think we would have seen a stimulus bill of some description passed before the August recess if Trump's chief of staff and former Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows was not leading the negotiations.
Trump has no idea what he's doing and Mark Meadows doesn't either, but Meadows does know how to be a spoiler. He did it for years even while Republicans controlled Congress.
In related news, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon says consumer spending and their own sales are going to dip without stimulus. But they can't even offer a financial outlook for the next quarter, they say, because no one knows what Congress will or won't do.
"Stimulus was definitely impactful to the consumer in the second quarter, and we're watching what's going on in Washington, and how we're going to progress with a new stimulus package," Biggs said. "I think certainly it would be helpful for consumers."
During the second quarter, same-store sales in the U.S. grew by 9.3%. That dropped off in July as shoppers had spent their stimulus checks, but were still more than 4% — higher than many quarters before the pandemic began.
You know, if sales were so much better because Americans receive stimulus checks, doesn't it track that sales would be higher year round if more Americans actually made decent wages? I mean, if more people actually had disposable income after paying their bills, they would spend it.
Maybe we should pay people more money to begin with.