Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin testified before the US Congress on Tuesday and lamented the lack of bipartisanship which he blames for the current impasse on Capital Hill over the Paycheck Protection Program stimulus package. Democrats, however, put the blame squarely on the Republicans.
One side has been saying for months that the other wants to spend too much on social welfare programs and to use any economic aid package to promote its political agenda and help Joe Biden win the presidency. Of course the Democrats counter that the Trump Administration’s plan offers too many “give aways” to Trump supporters.
The Paycheck Protection Program was put forward by the Trump Administration as a relief for Americans struggling financially due to the Covid-19 shutdowns. The Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, tried in May to pass a $3.4 Trillion package which they called the Heroes Act. But the Republican Party, which controls the US Senate, blocked that program claiming at the time that it was too costly.
Secretary Mnuchin said, “Unfortunately, Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi do not want to sit down at the negotiating table unless we publicly agree on a top line. My own opinion is we should go piece by piece and any area of the legislation we can agree on, we should have the House and the Senate pass,”
“We will continue to work with the Senate and House on a bipartisan basis for a phase four relief package. I believe a bipartisan agreement still should be reached,” he added.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, however, told CNN that she had a less than encouraging telephone conversation with Secretary Mnuchin.
Nancy Pelosi said in a statement, “Sadly, this phone call made clear that Democrats and the White House continue to have serious differences understanding the gravity of the situation that America’s working families are facing.”
During the hearings both Steve Mnuchin and Republican Congressmeen took the opportunity to put much of the blame for America’s current economic woes on the Democratic Governors of states who have declined to allow for more reopenings after the extended Corona Virus shutdowns. Ohio Republican Congressman put it squarely on the Democrats shoulders when he asked the Treasury Secratary, “Is it fair to say that if Democrat governors would let people go back to work in their states, we’d probably have less unemployment?”
To this Mr.Mnuchin agrreed, answering, “There’s no question that the reason we have unemployment is that certain states are not opening up.”
Congressman Jordan also said, “Democrats keep their states locked down, then they complain about unemployment,. Here’s a novel idea, let people go back to work and I bet you’ll get a lot less of it, you’ll get stronger economic growth that will build on what we have seen in the last three months.”
While the two sides haggle over the price tag for a new aid deal, the Trump Administration says that it is moving to protect people from evictions by blocking them at least until the end of the year.
Steven Mnuchin praised the Trump Administration for its efforts on the economy telling the Congress, “When it became clear that previous negotiations were not moving forward, the President took executive action to provide critical relief to Americans through lost wage assistance and other important items. While we continue to see signs of a strong economic recovery, we are sensitive to the fact there is more work to be done, and certain areas of the economy require additional relief.”
The American public must now wait for some sort of compromise to be reached.