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Coronavirus Relief Bill: Trump claims Democrats ready for deal

Donald Trump on Monday claimed Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi want ‘to make a deal’ on a coronavirus relief package but the top Senate Democrat said the president ‘just makes things up.’

Talks between the two sides remain at a stand still after negotiations fell apart on Friday and the president took executive action on Saturday.

Trump appeared to try and jump start things on Monday with a claim Democrats were ready to deal. 

‘So now Schumer and Pelosi want to meet to make a deal. Amazing how it all works, isn’t it. Where have they been for the last 4 weeks when they were ‘hardliners’, and only wanted BAILOUT MONEY for Democrat run states and cities that are failing badly? They know my phone number!,’ he wrote on Twitter.

President Trump made a similar claim Sunday night, telling reporters at the Morristown airport in New Jersey, before he boarded Air Force One to return to Washington D.C. that the Democrats have called him. 

‘The Democrats have called. They’d like to get together. And we say if it’s not a waste of time, we’ll do it,’ he said, adding: ‘They’re much more inclined to make a deal now than they would’ve been two days ago.’

But the White House has offered no details and Schumer denied any deal-making was in process, noting neither he nor Speaker Pelosi have called the president. 

‘Fables from Donald Trump. Fables. That’s what he seems to specialize in. I didn’t call him. Speaker Pelosi didn’t call him. No, we didn’t call him. He makes these things up or he hears from somebody at one of his fundraisers or at his country club, oh, the Democrats are calling you, and he acts like it’s true,’ he told MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe.’

The Senate Democratic leader also said the president was just making things up when he claimed to have the authority to institute the executive actions he signed on Saturday.

‘He just makes things up. Donald Trump is the fabled president. He just makes things up as they go,’ Schumer said. 

Negotiations stalled over a final price tag on a coronavirus relief package. Democrats originally proposed a $3.4 trillion package while Republicans countered with a $1 million offer. Democrats then suggested meeting at $2 trillion, which Republicans rejected. 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin declined to say when he and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows would restart talks with Pelosi and Schumer but he did tell CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’ the president is ‘prepared to put more money on the table.’  

‘If we can get a fair deal we’re willing to do it this week,’ Mnuchin said on Monday. 

However, Mnuchin indicated the administration was standing firm in their opposition to more money for state and local governments, which saw their budgets decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.

‘We’re not going to give a trillion dollars to state and local, that’s just not a reasonable approach,’ he said of the Democrats’ demand. 

President Trump on Sunday indicated he was open to restarting negotiations with the Democrats after his advisers spent the day defending the questions that surrounded his executive orders designed to bring coronavirus relief. 

‘I’ve been involved personally through my representatives,’ he told about his role in the talks with congressional Democrats. 

But he said it ‘works better’ than the negotiations were being done by Meadows and Mnuchin as opposed to him taking a more direct role.

‘I think it actually works better if we do the way we’re doing. We’ve got much of what we wanted, without having to give up anything,’ he said in response to a question from ‘You can’t beat the deal we made.’  

But Trump argued his decision to sign executive orders put him in a better bargaining position. 

‘They’re much more inclined to make a deal now than they were two days ago,’ he said of Democrats

The president said he would speak to Pelosi if she wanted to call him. 

‘Yeah I’d talk to her,’ he said. ‘It was time to act,’ he said of his decision to sign the executive orders and memorandum. ‘We have to get money out to the people.’  

President Trump spent the weekend in New Jersey for a combination of work, play and political glad-handling. He arrived at his Bedminister, New Jersey, golf club on Thursday evening and was seen playing golf on Friday morning by members who posted images on Instagram. 

On Saturday he signed his executive actions on COVID relief and then headed to Southampton for two fundraisers in the posh ocean-side town. One event was at the Hampton home of Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend  Kimberly Guilfoyle while the other was the beach-front home of billionaire former hedge fund manager John Paulson.

Earlier Saturday the president played golf at his New Jersey club with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. 

On Sunday, he attended a fundraiser at the New Jersey beach home of his late friend Stanley Chera, who died of the coronavirus in April.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro defended Trump as ‘the hardest-working president in history.’ 

‘This is the hardest-working president in history,’ he said Sunday on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’ ‘He works 24/7. He can be in Bedminster, Mar-a-Lago, the Oval Office, or anywhere in between. He can be at the Whirlpool factory like we were on Thursday, celebrating working men and women benefiting from tariffs. He’s working 24/7.’

Navarro said the president was forced to take executive action because of partisan politics. 

‘The problem here is Capitol Hill, the swamp. The two houses that are too far apart. I mean the Lord, and the Founding Fathers created executive orders, because of partisan bickering and divided government. That’s what we have here,’ he said. 

On Saturday, President Trump signed four executive orders and memorandum that he said would expand supplemental unemployment benefits, ease a moratorium on evictions, suspend student loan repayments, and pause the payroll tax. 

His aides spent Sunday trying to explain Trump’s attempt to circumvent Congressional Democrats, which brought a flurry of questions about the legality of his orders and their effectiveness. 

‘They’re absurdly unconstitutional,’ Pelosi said Sunday on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’

Administration officials, in their own Sunday show appearances, argued the relief was coming to millions of Americans financially impacted by the pandemic. But they struggled to explain the details, such as the president’s promised $400-a-week extra unemployment insurance that requires money from the states in order to happen.

‘It’s $400 a week, and we’re doing it without the Democrats,’ Trump said in his Saturday announcement, asking states to cover 25 percent of the cost. It was not immediately clear where the federal portion would come from – though the president suggested he was looking to use unspent funds from previous coronavirus relief bills – and Trump said it would be up to states to determine how much, if any of it to fund. 

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow admitted on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ the administration still needed to find out if governors were on board with the plan. Many states saw their budgets decimated by the virus.

‘We will probably find that out today and tomorrow, as we make our canvass,’ he said on Sunday.

But not all governors were sure they could come up with the funds. 

Asked if Ohio could afford its contribution to the new unemployment insurance, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine told CNN: ‘The answer is, I don’t know yet.’  

Mnuchin shrugged off concerns about the legality of the president’s actions. 

‘We’ve cleared with the Office of Legal Counsel all these actions before they went to the president. The president knew unemployment insurance was ending. He said, let’s continue at $400. By the way, the 25 percent from the states, they can either take that out of the money we’ve already given them or the president can waive that,’ he said on ‘Fox News Sunday.

‘We’ve been told by the states they can get this up and running immediately. And I would say, if the Democrats want to challenge us in court and hold up unemployment benefits to those hardworking Americans that are out of a job because of Covid, they’re going to have a lot of explaining to do,’ he added.

But Pelosi argued states could not afford what the president wanted because they were cash-strapped by dealing with the pandemic.

‘He is saying states have the money. No, they don’t. They have expenses from the coronavirus. They have lost revenue,’ she said on CNN. 

After the White House released the text of the president’s orders on Sundays, questions arose about the details, not all of which matched what the president sold them as in his announcement.

For example, President Trump said he was issuing a moratorium on evictions but what the White House released was a federal policy to minimize evictions and encouraged officials to find statutory ways to help homeowners and renters. 

The president also announced he was suspending the payroll tax cut, going retroactively from August 1 through the end of 2020. But all his order does is defer the tax payment, it doesn’t erase it. Trump did say if he’s re-elected he will extend the suspension and defer the repayments. 

It’s unclear if the president will be able to do the suspension without Congress as the constitution gives the power to tax to that institution. Congressional Democrats and many Republicans object to any cuts in the payroll tax cut as it funds Social Security and Medicare, two of the most expensive government entitlement programs on the books. 

Mnuchin dismissed concerns about the financial cost of the president’s plan.

‘We’ll deal with the budget deficit when we get the economy back to where it was before,’ he said. 

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