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Trump announces he's giving up on economic aid negotiations

Trump's closing 2020 message: Americans should stop worrying about a deadly pandemic and be satisfied with high unemployment and a weak economy.
Image: Donald TrumpNancy PelosiChuck Schumer
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence meet with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office on Dec. 11, 2018.Evan Vucci / AP

Late last week, the monthly job totals from September were disappointing and far short of expectations. This morning, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell implored Congress and the White House to invest heavily in the economy -- sooner rather than later.

This afternoon, Donald Trump delivered his response via Twitter, announcing he's "rejecting" the latest economic aid package passed by the Democratic-led House, and apparently giving up on the process altogether.

"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. I have asked [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell not to delay, but to instead focus full time on approving my outstanding nominee to the United States Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett."

It's important to understand just how bonkers this is.

Circling back to our earlier coverage, it was in mid-May when House Democrats saw the CARES Act's expiration on the horizon and took steps to stay ahead of the problem. The lower chamber approved an ambitious aid package, with a price tag of over $3 trillion, which would have extended benefits to struggling families, businesses, and communities through the end of the year.

Republicans soon after responded with ... very little. In July, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) unveiled an alternative, which much of his party disliked, and which was never even brought up for a vote. Trump announced a series of executive actions, which amounted to very little. GOP senators tried and failed to pass a narrow, partisan plan in September, though it was clearly little more than a theatrical effort.

But Democrats kept trying, recently approving a scaled-down aid package, in the hopes that it would spur Republicans to get more engaged in economic policymaking. There were even some signs of hope when the president, contradicting his own party, called on GOP officials to embrace a package with "much higher numbers."

Now, however, Trump -- who refused to get personally involved in the negotiations, despite his alleged expertise in deal-making -- has decided to end the talks altogether.

Or put another way, exactly four weeks from Election Day, the incumbent president's closing message is a combination of telling Americans to stop worrying about a deadly pandemic and to be satisfied with high unemployment and a weak economy.

What's more, Trump has done so in such a way as to make clear to voters that he personally is to blame. He could've accepted an offer to boost the economy ahead of his own re-election bid, but the Republican has decided he doesn't want to.

The president will instead try to tackle the issue "after the election," which is every bit as strategically foolish as it sounds, and will prioritize a far-right Supreme Court nominee, which is the opposite of what the American mainstream wants.