It’s unclear whether anyone is going to officially indicate that there won’t be a preelection stimulus deal, even one that won’t be ratified by Congress until after November 3 (if at all). There was silence Tuesday from the two chief negotiators, Nancy Pelosi and Steven Mnuchin. You have to look past dozens of retweets and endless gloating over right-wing newspaper endorsements to find any vague reference to stimulus talks in the president’s Twitter feed, where it drifts into a language other than English.
As the Washington Post reports, however, Trump is looking ahead to a quick postelection stimulus deal in a parallel universe:
President Trump said Tuesday that the White House would approve a big stimulus package after the election and predicted that Republicans would retake control of the House of Representatives even though the GOP is widely expected to lose seats in the chamber next week.
“After the election, we’ll get the best stimulus package you’ve ever seen,” he said.
Trump’s comments came as the prospects of an economic relief deal appear to be withering after months of talks, a scenario that — combined with rising numbers of coronavirus cases — sent the stock market sharply lower Monday.
Trump’s expressed optimism is either feigned or delusional: The odds of Republicans flipping control of the House and restoring a Republican trifecta are up there with the likelihood that the president will suddenly acquire a dog who goes onto Fox & Friends and stands on its hind legs singing “I’m in the Money” in pig Latin. In any event, Congress has adjourned until after the election. The Senate was hanging around to confirm Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination, but that’s now done as well.
So while ruling anything out in this plague year is hard to do, there’s no reason to think a stimulus deal will be imminent even after the election, when the incentive to make voters happy will have disappeared. Partisan gridlock will continue until January and then will either persist or give way to a Democratic Congress and White House that would doubtless produce a stimulus package more generous than anything Trump would offer or Mitch McConnell would ratify. If the third wave continues surging and/or the economy collapses, some sort of short-term relief might occur in a lame-duck session. (Congress does need to come back anyway to keep the federal government open by approving additional funding when the current stopgap spending bill expires on December 11.) But don’t count on a second $1,200 stimulus check to pay for Christmas presents this year. Anyone who tells you it’s on the way is surely tap, tap, taping you along.