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THE BIG DEAL-Trump undercuts GOP, calls for bigger COVID-19 relief package: President Trump on Wednesday shook up the high-stakes debate over coronavirus relief, undercutting the Republicans’ long-held position by urging GOP leaders to go big.
- Senate Republicans had initially offered a $1.1 trillion emergency aid package, but subsequently voted on a proposal providing just $650 billion – only $350 billion of it in new funding.
- Democrats have howled at the GOP’s “emaciated” offer, arguing that it falls far short of the funding needed to address the dual health and economic crises caused by the deadly coronavirus.
But on Wednesday morning, Trump stunned Washington by joining those Democratic critics in calling for Republicans to seek much more funding than they’ve previously proposed. He suggested it would not only provide relief to those struggling, but would also stimulate the domestic economy at large.
“Go for the much higher numbers, Republicans, it all comes back to the USA anyway (one way or another!),” Trump tweeted.
The Hill’s Scott Wong and Mike Lillis have more here.
Republicans caught off guard: Trump’s change of heart appeared to be a surprise to most Senate Republicans.
Sen. John Thune (S.D.), a member of GOP leadership, warned that a stimulus package in the range of $1.5 trillion would likely lead to “heartburn” among Republicans on Capitol Hill.
But another member of GOP leadership, Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), indicated he was hopeful for an agreement before the Nov. 3 election.
“I think there is a deal to be had here,” Blunt said. “My concern is that the window closes probably at the end of this month. We need to get busy finding out what we can all agree on. I think the number is gonna be higher than our trillion dollars.”
Democrats seize the opening: Democratic leaders, who have been pushing Republicans to accept a larger deal for months, immediately jumped at the chance to boost pressure on the GOP.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday they were “encouraged” by Trump’s tweet after months of stalled negotiations.
“We are encouraged that after months of the Senate Republicans insisting on shortchanging the massive needs of the American people, President Trump is now calling on Republicans to ‘go for the much higher numbers’ in the next coronavirus relief package,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement.
“We look forward to hearing from the President’s negotiators that they will finally meet us halfway with a bill that is equal to the massive health and economic crises gripping our nation,” they added.
LEADING THE DAY
Communities of color hit hardest financially by COVID-19: Communities of color have been hit the hardest by economic and social challenges spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study, adding to the well-documented toll the pandemic has had on health within these communities.
The new study – conducted by NPR, Harvard and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – found that 72 percent of Latino households, 60 percent of Black households and 55 percent of Native American households reported “serious financial problems.”
- Those problems included struggling to pay credit card bills, rent and utilities and being able to afford food.
- Notably, across the board, the most common problem was having little to no savings.
- Roughly four in 10 Black, Latino and Native American households said that most if not all of their savings have been used during the pandemic.
“The national response to this pandemic has failed too many families,” Avenel Joseph, vice president of policy for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said on a virtual press call.
The Hill’s Marty Johnson breaks down the troubling numbers here.
Businesses, states pass on Trump payroll tax deferral: President Trump’s payroll tax deferral is meeting resistance from employers in the public and private sector, including Fortune 500 companies and state governments.
- While payroll taxes are being deferred for many federal workers and members of the military, employers beyond the executive branch have much less of an appetite to participate.
- Business executives and state officials say they’re concerned their employees may end up with smaller paychecks next year because of the need for individuals to repay the deferral by April 30.
The decision by many business leaders to pass on the program marks a setback for Trump’s attempt to increase workers’ paychecks during the pandemic just weeks before the presidential election.
The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda tells us why here.
GOOD TO KNOW
- The Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced it would keep interest rates near zero percent amid growing concern about the slowing pace of the recovery from the coronavirus recession.
- Republicans are feeling bullish about their ability to sway voters on the economy, even as experts warn about the long-term impact from the coronavirus recession.
- A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday offered legislation to provide tax relief to individuals and businesses affected by natural disasters, such as August’s derecho in the Midwest, the wildfires in western states, and Hurricanes Laura and Isaias.
- Low-income college enrollment has taken a hit amid the coronavirus pandemic, as the virus outbreak has ravaged the economy, affected education methods and continues to lead to deaths in the U.S.
- The world economy is projected to shrink by 4.5 percent in 2020, according to updated estimates the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released Wednesday, less than the 6 percent contraction it predicted in June.
- A Yelp report released Wednesday found that about 60 percent of business closures across the country since March are permanent, a staggering statistic that shows the widespread economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Video: White House promises ‘comprehensive’ healthcare plan (Reuters – US Video Online)