Happy Friday and welcome back to On The Money. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.
THE BIG DEAL-Trump fuels and frustrates COVID-19 relief talks: Washington is waiting for President Trump to make up his mind on coronavirus relief.
In one week, the president has shifted from chief cheerleader for a massive deal to principal pessimist undermining any such agreement – only to reverse course yet again on Friday in urging the top negotiators to “go big” in securing a package he can sign before the elections.
“I would like to see a bigger stimulus package, frankly, than either the Democrats or the Republicans are offering,” he said in a two-hour interview with the conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.
What’s going on?
- The stunning 360-degree turn has given rise to new hopes that after weeks of stalled talks the White House and Democrats can unite to pass emergency relief.
- States, families and businesses are being crushed under the weight of a pandemic that’s already killed more than 210,000 Americans and left millions more unemployed.
- Yet Trump’s message is not only at odds with statements he made just days ago, but also contradicts those from Senate Republicans and some of his own White House aides.
The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Scott Wong walk us through the chaos here.
The wild card faces long odds: It’s not unusual for Trump to roil Washington policy debates, but his hot-and-cold approach to the stimulus negotiations has confused all sides.
- Trump is hoping to restore an image of strength and deal-making prowess after spending three days in the hospital being treated for COVID-19 and weeks of falling further behind former Vice President Joe Biden in election polls.
- But top Republicans in both chambers are hesitant to back trillions of dollars of more spending. They’re tamping down expectations that an enormous new spending package is possible less than four weeks from Election Day.
“The murkiness is a result of the proximity to the election, and everybody kind of trying to elbow for political advantage,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Friday from Kentucky. “I’d like to see us rise above that … but I think that’s unlikely in the next three weeks.”
The deal on the table: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Steven Mnuchin held a 30-minute phone call Friday afternoon on which the Treasury secretary offered a $1.8 trillion package, up from $1.6 trillion a week ago.
- The proposal includes $300 billion in emergency aid for cities and states, up from a $250 billion offer last week but well below the Democrats’ $436 billion ask.
- The White House is also throwing in more money for airlines, restaurants, small businesses, unemployment insurance, food stamps and additional food aid for low-income women and children, according to a GOP source familiar with the offer.
- Republicans are also offering direct payments of $1,000 per child – up from their initial $500 offer – in addition to the $1,200 stimulus checks for individuals, to give immediate relief to families rather than rely on future tax credits outlined in Pelosi’s plan.
Read more: Trump proposes $1.8T coronavirus relief package
LEADING THE DAY
Vegas connections helped Trump engineer $21M windfall during 2016 race: President Trump’s tax records reveal that the president engineered a windfall of more than $21 million during his 2016 presidential run, The New York Times reported Friday.
- A hotel Trump owns with casino mogul Phil Ruffin in Las Vegas made payments to several companies Trump controlled, and that money then flowed to the president himself.
- The hotel wrote off the payments as a business expense, the Times said.
- The Times reported that the payments came at a time when Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign was in need of funds and many of his businesses were losing money.
- The tax records don’t indicate whether the payments helped Trump’s campaign, his businesses, or both, the newspaper said.
The Times’s story is based on tax records of the president. The newspaper previously reported after examining the president’s tax records that he has paid little-to-no federal income taxes in recent years, including $750 in each of 2016 and 2017. The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda has more here.
SBA simplifies PPP forgiveness for small loans: The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Treasury Department announced that they are simplifying the loan forgiveness application for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans under $50,000.
“We are committed to making the PPP forgiveness process as simple as possible while also protecting against fraud and misuse of funds,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday evening, calling for additional simplification through legislation.
The simpler, two-page form businesses can fill out to have their PPP loans forgiven is meant to ease burdens on struggling small businesses. The Hill’s Niv Elis explains here.
GOOD TO KNOW
- A group of Democratic senators on Friday rolled out legislation that would make President Trump’s payroll tax deferral optional for workers whose employers are participating, including federal workers and members of the military.
- Stocks secured gains for the third day counting as the status of another fiscal relief package remained up in the air in Washington.
- An appraisal of a New York property that resulted in President Trump receiving a $21 million tax break appears to have relied on unsupported assertions, according to an analysis of the document obtained by The Washington Post.