President Halts Stimulus Talks

President Trump announced on Twitter Oct. 6 that he is ending negotiations with congressional Democrats over a new economic aid package to respond to the Coronavirus until after Election Day.

President Trump announced on Twitter Oct. 6 that he is ending negotiations with congressional Democrats over a new economic aid package to respond to the Coronavirus until after Election Day. 

This announcement caught all parties by surprise and is expected to trigger a lengthy debate over who is to blame for the talks never materializing. There was a time before July 4 when the idea of Congress not passing another stimulus package before Election Day was difficult to imagine. It is now quite likely.  

The President's tweet came as talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin had been building steam. Both sides wanted to come to a deal, not only to help struggling individuals and businesses, but also because they believed it would be politically beneficial:  Pelosi had been under increasing pressure from the more moderate wing of the Democratic caucus looking for tangible victories to share with constituents before Election Day, while Republicans have viewed the stimulus as a way to improve the economy and individual Americans' financial standing heading into the Election. 

But the two sides remained far apart on key issues, primarily increased funding for state and local governments, and neither party was willing to concede on major areas of disagreement. 

President Trump's decision came the same day that Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned that the U.S. economy is in for a "longer than expected slog back to full recovery" and that there's little risk of "overdoing" economic support. 

President Trump later tweeted that he would sign "stand-alone" bills for stimulus checks or providing assistance to airline workers, many of whom are on the verge of being laid off as federal assistance from the first round of stimulus bills expires. 

In a series of polls released in recent days, it appears that Republicans are facing major headwinds in their bid to maintain control of the Senate. 

The ongoing COVID outbreak in the White House and among several GOP senators has shifted the national dialogue away from the Supreme Court nomination fight to the Administration's pandemic response. This is far less friendly terrain for GOP senators in difficult reelection battles. 

One of the least reported and most unforeseen developments in the presidential election is senior citizens' abrupt abandonment of President Trump. Seniors are generally split 50-50 between both parties, if not slightly favoring the GOP. Recent polling shows Joe Biden leading among seniors by 21-27 points.  Trump won the senior vote by 7 points in 2016.  The same gap is showing up in state polling as well, including in the battlegrounds of Pennsylvania and Florida. 

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