Why Is Donald Trump So Obsessed With Flat Stimulus Checks?

Is this signature the only thing Donald Trump cares about?Imago via ZUMA

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

This is so, so dumb:

The Trump administration on Tuesday proposed an economic relief package that would offer far skimpier federal unemployment benefits than what has been proposed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, adding an element of uncertainty into the fragile stimulus negotiations, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Instead, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has proposed that lawmakers approve another stimulus check worth $600 per person and $600 per child, the people familiar with the plan said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to share details of private deliberations.

….Under the bipartisan framework released last week by a group of moderate lawmakers, Congress would approve…supplementary unemployment benefits at $300 per week while extending various unemployment programs that are set to expire at the end of the year. The framework did not include another round of stimulus payments.

I truly don’t get this. I literally can’t think of any coherent reason to prefer a flat $600 benefit for everyone—most of whom don’t need it—instead of a targeted benefit for those who do need it. The flat payment would be worse stimulus; it wouldn’t be as helpful to those in need; and it wouldn’t cost any less. But Donald Trump is so blinkered that he can’t imagine anything being better than just sending everyone a check with his name on it. Or something.

Can anyone explain this to me? It seems like such a no-brainer. Has someone in the GOP brain trust decided that unemployment benefits go more toward Democratic-leaning workers than Republican-leaning workers? Are they still stuck on the idea that unemployment payments will prompt workers to stay at home lazing on the couch instead of getting back to workplaces that aren’t even open? Are they afraid that UI benefits go mostly to the poor, and they hate the idea of helping the poor? Is it something else? This is just inexplicable.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate