Donald Trump’s position on an economic aid package was already a mess. As of three weeks ago, the president was telling the public that a proposal from congressional Democrats was both too generous and not generous enough. He simultaneously said he stood with Republicans, whose plan he opposed.
The president also said he was prepared to twist GOP lawmakers’ arms, convincing them to move closer to the Democratic plan, which he said he disliked.
And yet, somehow, Trump’s position managed to get more confusing yesterday.
For reasons unknown, the president announced that he was abandoning economic aid talks altogether, effectively telling Americans that they should simply accept high unemployment and a weak economy until after the elections.
About seven hours later, the Republican started tweeting about economic bills — each of which would require legislative negotiations — he wants Congress to tackle quickly.
President Donald Trump reversed course Tuesday night and urged Congress to approve a series of coronavirus relief measures that he would sign, including a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks for Americans…. He said in another tweet that he would approve funding for specific struggling industries, such as airlines and small businesses, which is short of what House Democrats proposed.
So to recap, after weeks of contradictions on economic aid talks, Trump ended the negotiations entirely, only to start publishing tweets hours later about the new economic aid talks he’d like to see.
Of course, the president — a self-proclaimed expert in deal-making — has refused to personally engage in any of the recent negotiations, and that’s likely to continue. Trump just wants to see others engage in talks. Or not. Or both.
Maybe the president is confused about what’s going on around him. Maybe he was rattled by yesterday’s reaction on Wall Street to his declaration. Maybe he thought his initial announcement was intended as a bluff, and Trump didn’t realize everyone would take him seriously. Maybe the president’s medications are having an unfortunate effect.
Maybe he’ll continue to change his mind every few hours, indefinitely, because he simply doesn’t know what he’s doing.
Whatever the explanation, as of this morning, the president appears to be both for and against talks on economic relief measures. What Trump’s position will be by the end of the day is anybody’s guess.
Update: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said this morning, “The stimulus negotiations are off.” Whether his boss will soon say the opposite is unclear.