The Trump administration and Democrats resumed negotiations on Thursday in an attempt, despite their differences, to adopt a crucial new economic stimulus package, which has become an electoral issue less than a month before the presidential election.
“I think we have a very good chance of doing something,” the US president assured Thursday morning on Fox Business News, reporting “very productive discussions.”
Donald Trump has thus radically changed his tone after brutally announcing, two days earlier, the end of the negotiations then postponed until after the election on November 3.
This decision had provoked dismayed reactions and strong criticism, including in his own camp.
He then backtracked, and proposed targeted measures for air transport or small businesses, very affected by the crisis linked to COVID-19. He also wants more checks sent to Americans.
Thursday morning, he even raised the possibility of an “agreement broader than that of the airlines”.
Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, assured the federal government was prepared to inject 1.6 trillion dollars, when Democrats want a larger support plan including aid to households, businesses, local communities and to various utilities, for at least $ 2.2 trillion.
No air aid without a larger plan
House Democratic official Nancy Pelosi has resumed talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
But she warned: no question of supporting an aid plan that would be confined to the aviation sector.
“Let me be very clear: I was quite ready to have a stand-alone law for airlines, as part of a larger law. But there is no stand-alone law without a broader law, “she insisted at a press conference.
Aid to the aviation sector must make it possible to avoid the tens of thousands of layoffs announced by the companies.
Airlines have faced a drop in their activity since the start of the pandemic. Many international travel restrictions are still in place and they are struggling to get domestic passengers back on their planes as the pandemic is not over.
“There is immense bipartisan support for extending aid measures to airlines, and there has been for some time now,” American Airlines boss Doug Parker said Thursday on CNBC.
Without aid, the company will lay off 19,000 people.
“The process for these measures to be enacted is frustrating,” he added.
According to him, it will take “months before airlines can bounce back”.
“We can’t keep waiting,” he said alarmed.
With less than four weeks to go, the massive layoffs would cast a new shadow on Donald Trump’s record, campaigning for re-election and already behind in the polls against his Democratic competitor, Joe Biden.
The Republican president is 11 points behind (42% versus 53% of voting intentions) of his competitor, according to a poll by the Center for Social and Economic Research at USC Dornsife University, released Thursday morning.
The Stock Exchange, dear to Donald Trump, seemed to believe in a deal, and Wall Street was up Thursday at midday. Even the airlines resisted.
In the purses
The adoption of this new aid plan has become an important electoral issue, with each side fearing that the other will take the credit for it.
Yet this aid is essential to enable the world’s largest economy to recover from the damage caused by COVID-19.
They have to bring new money into the coffers of small businesses to pay their workers and avoid bankruptcy.
For the most vulnerable households, who are struggling to pay their rents and bills, a new check would be a breath of fresh air.
Direct aid would also help stimulate consumer spending, a traditional growth engine.
Before the pandemic, the economy was Donald Trump’s greatest asset.
But since then, the situation has changed even if the stock market remains at record levels.
The unemployment rate has never been higher in the run-up to a US presidential election.
The country has nearly 11 million unemployed, and even 25 million by adding those who are not eligible for unemployment benefits but receive assistance after seeing their income fall.