Coronavirus

The Next COVID Stimulus Bill Could Cost Trillions of Dollars or Might Not Happen at All

There's a fox, a goose, and a bag of grain. And a hippopotamus in the middle of the river.

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Trying to sort through the latest developments in the negotiations over another COVID-19 stimulus bill feels a little bit like that childhood logic puzzle in which a farmer is trying to transport a goose, a bag of corn, and a fox across a river in a small boat.

House Democrats have already passed a $3 trillion stimulus bill that's essentially a grab-bag of progressive agenda items, but Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) absolutely refuses to go along with a stripped-down stimulus bill being pushed by Senate Republicans. Meanwhile, cunning-as-a-fox Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnnell (R–Ky.) says his members will return to the nation's capital later this week to vote on a $500 billion emergency spending plan. Neither congressional proposal is a perfect fit with the $1.8 trillion package the White House officials are urging Congress to pass in order to goose the economy before the presidential election.

And there's one more complication that you didn't hear about as a kid: a hippopotamus is loose in the middle of the river.

At any moment, it might surface and destroy whatever happens to be in the boat right now: Either by announcing that he's calling off all negotiations until after the election, as President Donald Trump did last week, or by undermining his own team's official position by urging Congress to "go big or go home," as President Donald Trump did on Tuesday.

For the moment, all parties involved seem more concerned with blaming someone else for why no one is getting across the river. Pelosi says inconsistent signals from the White House and Republicans' unwillingness to bail out states and cities are holding up the process.

"This weekend, the Trump administration issued a proposal that amounted to one step forward, two steps back," Pelosi said in an open letter to her House colleagues on Tuesday. "In fact, in some instances, it makes matters worse."

McConnell says he's focused on providing another round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides loans to small and mid-sized businesses that have kept workers on payrolls during the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. Even though there is bipartisan support for providing more PPP funding, McConnell said in a statement on Tuesday, the program has become a "casualty of Democrats' all-or-nothing obstruction."

When the Senate returns to session on Monday, McConnell says, it will take up legislation to refill the PPP and provide other "targeted relief to American workers." The price tag on that bill remains unknown, but will likely be in the neighborhood of the $500 billion plan outlined by Senate Republicans last month.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who has been handling negotiations for the White House, said Wednesday that the prospects of reaching a deal before the election are dimming. "I'd say at this point getting something done before the election and executing on that would be difficult, just given where we are," Mnuchin told The Washington Post. He's facing opposition on all sides, as Pelosi has criticized the White House's proposal for being too small while Senate Republican leaders convened a conference call last weekend to tell the White House it was asking for too much, the Post reported.

You can't leave the goose alone with the fox or with the bag of corn, of course.

And he has to deal with this, too:

The one thing that no one really seems to be talking about is whether the United States can even afford another massive stimulus bill. The Congressional Budget Office announced this week that the federal budget deficit for the fiscal year that ended on September 30 was a whopping $3.1 trillion—that's three times larger than the deficit recorded in the previous year. The national debt is as large as the U.S. economy and will continue growing for the foreseeable future.

If there's any hope for fiscal sanity to be restored any time soon, it may come in the form of Trump's diminishing prospects for reelection.

"Trump's current political standing seems to have hurt his ability to persuade Senate Republicans to embrace more deficit spending," Politico's Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan report. "Some on Saturday's conference call between Senate Republicans, Mnuchin, and [White House Chief of Staff Mark] Meadows saw the frosty reception for the senior administration officials as a reflection of a party becoming less and less deferential to the president."

Congress is in the unenviable position of trying to balance the country's unsteady long-term fiscal status with the still very real threat of a major economic crisis as the pandemic continues to rage. Still, no matter what the final version of the next stimulus bill looks like, getting it across the river might be easier without the hippopotamus.

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  1. If there’s any hope for fiscal sanity to be restored any time soon, it may come in the form of Trump’s diminishing prospects for reelection.

    Any fiscal sanity obtained this way will be obliterated come Jan 20

    1. Holy shit, I had to check if this was really in there, because the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard today is that the guy that nixed the 3.5 TRILLION DOLLAR Democrat wishlist losing and being replaced by those same Democrats will restore fiscal sanity.

      1. It goes without saying, this being 2020 and all, that Boehm had some pretty stiff competition.

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    2. You don’t understand. Ignore the trillions the Democrats have proposed spending. It is like the riots. Trump forced them to do it. If he had only resigned the numerous times he was given the opportunity. Once he is gone, they will return to the fiscal discipline they are renowned for.

      1. Oh I think it is a near certainty that if Biden wins, and Democrats control all of Congress, then spending goes up. But it is also a near certainty that taxes will also go up. So the budget would potentially be closer to balanced because tax revenue would increase faster than spending would increase. That’s not exactly something to cheer, except that it would lead to a smaller deficit.

        1. You can’t balance $3.5T with taxes. That’s what would have to be done to make Biden’s deficit less than Trump’s, because you know they won’t cut Trump’s spending.

        2. Biden promised my taxes wouldn’t go up.

          1. Yeah, he’s probably lying.

            1. No probably there. Biden actually did promise your taxes would go up.

              1. Jeff is a pro tax libertarian. As long as you pay for what he wants he thinks it is better.

        3. “That’s not exactly something to cheer”

          Ok light is dawning on you

          “except that it would lead to a smaller deficit.”

          Oh and you fuck it all up on the landing!

        4. … because tax revenue would increase faster than spending would increase…
          Pure fantasy and totally uncoupled with reality.

        5. You say really really retarded shit. The estimated taxes proposed is dwarfed by the GND based proposals alone.

          No wonder you think 2 + 2 = 5.

      2. Also, there’s a distinction to be made between those on the left who are on the MMT crazy train and literally want to spend infinite sums because “who gives a shit anyway”, and those on the left who really are concerned with how to actually pay for all of the spending that their team wants to accomplish. These are more the neoliberal types. Sure they’re going to raise taxes to do it, but it’s not the AOC approach either.

        1. “[T]hose on the left who really are concerned with how to actually pay for all of the spending that their team wants to accomplish.”

          These people do not exist.

          1. Sure they do. They’re called neoliberals, or centrists. It may be fun to assume everyone to the left of Ted Cruz is some shrieking AOC clone, but that’s actually not true.

            1. Name them.

              1. And poof, Lying Jeffy disappears.

              2. Chemjeff. Although he lies about balanced budgets. And he also his form of neoliberalism “libertarianism” because he is an idiot.

        2. The public would not put up with doubling the tax load. There would be no better way to engineer a Republican landslide in 2022.

          1. Well, no. So the typical Team Blue trick is to promise to only “tax the rich” (with an ever-expanding definition of “rich”) and to hide taxes in other ways, such as to charge taxes on companies who then pass on those taxes to consumers, so the consumers blame the companies and not the real source of the cost increases, the government.

            1. The last few years have shown that as long as they can engineer it so you get a bigger refund in April they can raise taxes as much as they want and the people will think their taxes went down

    3. “Trump’s diminishing prospects for reelection.”

      Should we tell them?

  2. Republicans want to take away you’re reproductive rights. Democrats want to take away your guns. The only similarly with both is spend spend spend.

    1. Republicans want to take away your right to reproduce?

      1. Exactly. When the democrats talk “reproductive rights”, they mean infanticide.

        1. “Reproductive rights” is a slogan they don’t even truly believe in. They’re not in favor of a man’s right to force the woman he impregnated to have an abortion, which they would support if they honestly believed there was some fundamental right to not reproduce. (Not that I would want anyone to support such a thing, obviously.)

  3. “If there’s any hope for fiscal sanity to be restored any time soon, it may come in the form of Trump’s diminishing prospects for reelection.”

    What?

    The Democrats have openly and loudly proclaimed their desire to seize complete power and tax the country into oblivion in order to save it from climate change, or racism, or something else unspeakably evil that can only be solved by spending money that does not exist.

    This sentiment by Mr. Boehm is so unserious that it must be parody. Is this a joke?

    1. Well, I have news for you. We’re not going to get out of this huge of a debt hole by economic growth alone. It is going to require, along with economic growth, either (a) default, (b), massive inflation, (c) massive spending cuts, (d) tax increases, or a combination thereof. No one wants (a) or (b), that leaves (c) and (d). And while libertarians everywhere want to balance the budget entirely through option (c), recent history has demonstrated that the appetite for it just isn’t there. The most plausible scenario in the near term, anyway, in getting back to something resembling a balanced budget, is going to be a mix of (c) and (d), with probably a little bit of (b) thrown in.

      So if the idea is to get back to a balanced budget, who is more likely to do that? Biden? Or Trump?

      Of course if the idea is NOT to get to a balanced budget, but just to keep taxes low, then yes, vote for Trump. But at some point, it becomes simply wrong to finance current spending with debt. Financing major investments with debt is one thing. Financing mere consumption spending with debt is fiscal insanity. It is just wrong to ask future taxpayers to sacrifice in order to pay for our lifestyle spending today. Ideally, yes, the answer is to cut spending to match tax revenue then the budget will be balanced. But that is not going to happen in the near term any more than “ending the welfare state” is going to happen in the near term. A mix of spending cuts and tax increases are probably what is on the table realistically.

      1. You seem to be presuming that raising taxes is not going to appreciably denude tax revenue. If tax revenue collapses, and business expansion ceases, no amount of higher taxes is going to help ease matters.

        I also have news for you. The Democrats have no interest in balancing the budget because their extravagant plans for spending far outweigh any revenue we can hope to possible raise through higher taxes.

        Try raising sufficient tax revenue when the country runs (or, more realistically, does not run) on solar energy alone.

        1. You seem to be presuming that raising taxes is not going to appreciably denude tax revenue.

          It depends on where we are on the Laffer curve. I think it’s safe to say that we are on the left side of the peak.

          1. The amount of spending Democrats are proposing would not be paid for even if you taxed everyone in county 100 cents on the dollar.

            Laffer curve? Sure.

            1. Well okay, if you add up the cost of every single crazy idea that every single person to the left of Ted Cruz has thought of, then it’s probably quite a bit of money.

              But, please join us in the real world. That isn’t what is being proposed.

              1. We are capable of reading Biden’s website.

                Enough.

                1. I don’t call him Lying Jeffy for nothing. He really can’t help himself, being dishonest is a core part of his character.

        1. That is from 2018. Can’t you even find something on what Biden is actually proposing, and not the laundry list of every crazy left-wing idea that ever existed?

          Does it matter to you that Biden is different than Bernie?

          1. Is Biden different than Bernie? Biden is not going to be running the show and the odds of him vetoing the insane progressive legislation that lands on his desk is exactly zero.

            Stop being naive.

            1. When Obama was elected, the party bent to his will. The blue dog Democrats were run out of town.
              When Trump was elected, the party bent to his will. The NeverTrumpers were run out of town.
              If Biden is elected, it will be the same story. The party will bend to his will. The Bernies and AOCs will be the ones bending the knee, not the other way around.

              You’re right that Biden probably wouldn’t veto “insane progressive legislation”, but “insane progressive legislation” won’t reach his desk even if Democrats are in charge of Congress because they will negotiate a bill in advance that Biden will sign. When Republicans were in charge, did “insane right-wing legislation” reach Trump’s desk that he had no choice but to veto? No. That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.

              It’s just fantasy that AOC and Bernie would be calling the shots. They lost their opportunity to call the shots when Bernie didn’t get the nomination.

              1. The only fantasy is that, in the event that Biden wins the Presidency and Democrats control both chambers of Congress, they’ll act with restraint.

                Or, they’ll simply do everything they said they would.

                1. They will do what Biden is willing to support. I am quite certain that AOC will continue to do AOC stuff. But Biden would be in the big chair, not AOC.

                  1. “Giving Americans a new choice, a public health insurance option like Medicare. If your insurance company isn’t doing right by you, you should have another, better choice. Whether you’re covered through your employer, buying your insurance on your own, or going without coverage altogether, Biden will give you the choice to purchase a public health insurance option like Medicare. As in Medicare, the Biden public option will reduce costs for patients by negotiating lower prices from hospitals and other health care providers. It also will better coordinate among all of a patient’s doctors to improve the efficacy and quality of their care, and cover primary care without any co-payments. And it will bring relief to small businesses struggling to afford coverage for their employees.”

                    Sounds like Medicare for all. Like I said, we’re all capable of reading.

                    1. Do you even know what the Bernie Sanders “Medicare For All” plan is?

                  2. Are you really dumb enough to think that Biden chose Kamala Harris to be his running mate?

                    LOL

              2. The assumption that Biden’s will is nearly as strong as Obama or Trump’s is demonstrably false. Biden has moved further toward Bernie’s position AFTER winning the nomination than he did before (the opposite of what usually happens)

                The fact is if Biden wins he will be little more than a puppet for the more extreme wing of the party. I’m not convinced any true moderates still exist in the party, at least not in any position of real authority. They all seem to want to move further and further left at every opportunity

          2. And, you can always look at Biden’s campaign website.

            1. You mean, the Biden campaign website where he does not actually support Medicare For All? That one?

              You mean, the Biden campaign website where he calls the Green New Deal a “framework” only, but does not support the insane AOC plans?

              1. Now you’re just lying to yourself. I called you naive for a reason.

                1. Well, here’s the website.

                  https://joebiden.com/healthcare/

                  Where does he say he supports Medicare For All?

                  1. “Giving Americans a new choice, a public health insurance option like Medicare. If your insurance company isn’t doing right by you, you should have another, better choice. Whether you’re covered through your employer, buying your insurance on your own, or going without coverage altogether, Biden will give you the choice to purchase a public health insurance option like Medicare. As in Medicare, the Biden public option will reduce costs for patients by negotiating lower prices from hospitals and other health care providers. It also will better coordinate among all of a patient’s doctors to improve the efficacy and quality of their care, and cover primary care without any co-payments. And it will bring relief to small businesses struggling to afford coverage for their employees.”

                    1. Yes. That is the public option. It is not “Medicare For All”. The public option has its own definite problems. It gets government more entrenched as a health care insurer. But it is not the “Medicare For All” scheme which would make private insurance illegal and force everyone to get health insurance through the government. Both are bad in their own way, but they are not equivalent to each other.

                    2. The problem with Biden’s plan is that it will become Bernie’s plan. Private insurance companies will collapse.

                      Bernie would ban private insurance. Biden would destroy it.

                      It’s a difference without a difference.

                    3. Sure, Biden’s plan might turn into Bernie’s plan, possibly, at some point in the future. But Biden’s plan of today is not Bernie’s plan of today.

                    4. Please tell me the story again about how an incremental descent into an ever expansive government program that will drown out the private market is going decrease our federal deficits.

                      You’ve lost the forest for the trees. Completely.

                2. Honestly with himself is literally an existential threat to chemjeff

          3. Most of those proposals are on bidens website you fucking idiot.

        2. You get 21 percent of GDP in revenue, no matter how much you tax. De Rugy’s had an article or two that shows it. And the Left’ll drive GDP through the floor if you’re idiotic enough to try and raise tax rates as much as we all know they’d like to.

          There isn’t enough money. There isn’t enough for even these earlier bits of stimulus.

          1. Yes, the Bogeyman Left will destroy the economy and destroy America. I get it.

            Just like the Bogeyman Right will bring back slavery and create The Handmaid’s Tale in real life.

            The Democrats who have been elected recently are not stupid enough to “drive GDP through the floor”. Even the hated Obama did not “drive GDP through the floor”. So I am sure you can conjure up some scary Bernie/AOC strawman hybrid who would nationalize everything and create ruin, that is not actually what is on offer here.

            1. And I’m sure you’re more than willing to vote for Biden and the Democrats to show just how unconcerned you are, right?

              1. I’ve already said that I’m voting for JoJo.

                But if we are going to have a discussion on some topic, let’s have a discussion on a rational footing, not based on hyperbole.

                There are plenty of valid reasons not to like Biden. So let’s talk about those, instead of making up fake ones.

                1. Unrestrained Democrat spending and insane policy proposals that Biden is likely to sign is reason enough.

                  There is nothing hyperbolic about this.

                  1. No no, there is nothing at all hyperbolic as depicting your opponents as caricatured radicals. No, nothing at all.

                    1. Democrats are promising particular policy proposals that fiscally unsound and absolutely ruinous.

                      That is not a caricature.

                      I am taking them at their word.

                      If you think it is hot air, fine.

                    2. Lying Jeffy never gets hyperbolic!

            2. “The Democrats who have been elected recently are not stupid enough to “drive GDP through the floor””

              As Dem governors in California, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, etc are proving…

      2. “Well, I have news for you. We’re not going to get out of this huge of a debt hole by economic growth alone”

        Right but you’re a fat retard so your assessments are meaningless.

        1. And Tulpa is still Tulpa.

          1. Cool glad he lives in your head but you’re a fat retard so your assessments are meaningless.

            1. No matter what you think I am, I’m still a better human being than you, Tulpa.

              1. That’s clearly a moral judgement, based on how you rate different characteristics. Personally, outside of violence, I consider being a dishonest piece of shit as one of the worst characteristics you can have.

                So in my moral judgement, Tulpa is a much better human being than you are, Lying Jeffy.

                1. Chemjeff is among the worst people here.
                  The only thing that keeps him just relatively above the floor is the presence of a freaking child pornographer.

              2. Youre not better than anyone jeff. Youre mom lied to you. Your shelf filled with participation trophies for sitting on the bench your entire life are also lies.

                1. Oh look, three of the Mean Grrlz decided to chime in. As if I give a shit about what any of you three idiots think.

      3. Actually just 5 years of zero spending increases would work. But you’re so fucking dependent on government you can’t imagine government not growing.

  4. Boehm is trolling us if he thinks we’ll buy a Biden administration as “fiscal sanity”.

    1. What’s another 40-50 trillion more dollars in fiscal sanity? We have enough billionaires. Plus, money is just numbers on a spreadsheet. If a bartender from Queens cannot afford to live it up in a penthouse, what kind of country is this?

  5. There’s a fox, a goose, and a bag of grain. And a hippopotamus in the middle of the river.

    You objective today is to smuggle the grain (which naturally tends to remain in the plain, in the rain) against its wishes, to migrate to a semi-arid growing area, where, with proper irrigation, it can feed the humans.

    The hippopotamus of Government Almighty is schizophrenic, and, at the one and the same time, DEMANDS to know, are the humans-to-be-fed, LEGAL humans, or are they illegal sub-humans? ONLY if the humans-to-be-fed are LEGAL humans, will the grain be allowed passage, and then, only after the hippopotamus takes 50% of your grain, in payment for processing all the forms! However, the hippopotamus of Government Almighty ALSO wants a “certificate of need”, AND proof that the grain has NO GMO genes, and will NOT violate the rights of anyone anywhere (think precautionary principle) in ANY parallel universe, in ANY way! To include the rights of illegal sub-humans, to be fed, and NOT starve to death! So… Good luck!

    Also, the goose wants to goose the fox, and the fox wants to fuck the goose!

    (Trigger warning, solution to the problems follows; proceed no further, if you want to figure it out for yourself).

    Solution: Infect a fraction of the grain with ergot fungus! Generously share samples of the infected grain with all the greedy bastards! While they’re off “tripping”, proceed with the rest of the grain, to do good deeds for the rest of us!

    1. Right but you’re a racist.

  6. “Sen. McConnell said Tuesday that the Senate would vote on a narrow coronavirus relief bill next week. Mr. McConnell said it would include new funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, a $670 billion federal initiative that provides forgivable government-backed loans to small businesses grappling with the economic fallout of the pandemic. Authorization for PPP expired in August with roughly $130 billion of the funds left over.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/pelosi-mnuchin-disagree-on-coronavirus-testing-continue-stimulus-talks-11602693608?

    This is probably the only bill that really matters.

    If McConnell can’t get the Senate Republicans to vote for a bill that will only cost $540 billion in additional spending, whether President Trump agrees to Pelosi’s $2.2 trillion probably doesn’t matter.

    Let’s be clear about what needs to happen for the Republicans to pass Pelosi’s $2.2 trillion stimulus bill. Only four or five out of 53 Republicans would need to vote for Pelosi’s $2.2 trillion for it to pass–and they can’t find those four or five votes.

    In fact, the reason McConnell hasn’t brought his $540 billion bill up in the Senate is because he didn’t have the votes to pass that small amount either. We’ll see what happens, but my bet is that there’s no stimulus bill before the election. Short of that, the $540 billion bill is more likely to pass than Pelosi’s version. And if Boehm can’t keep up with what’s happening and why, maybe they should assign someone else.

    After all, the positions haven’t really changed since mid-May, when Pelosi passed her $3.5 trillion stimulus bill. The Democrats won’t pass any stimulus bill if it doesn’t bail out the states of California, Illinois, and New York, and the Republicans won’t pass a bill if it bails out California, Illinois, and New York.

  7. “This weekend, the Trump administration issued a proposal that amounted to one step forward, two steps back,” Pelosi said in an open letter to her House colleagues on Tuesday. “In fact, in some instances, it makes matters worse.”

    A. This is why it’s called “one step forward, two steps back”.

    B. “In fact, in other instances, it makes matters better.”

    Wotta frickin’ genius!

  8. If you think your life or livelihood hangs in the balance with whatever these DC shitheads decide, they’ve already beaten you.

    The Fed is doing a competent job. We’ll get through.

    Everyone in the legislature needs to be removed, by whatever means available.

    1. The Fed is doing a competent job of what? Postponing the inevitable crash, and making it worse when it does happen?

  9. First trip: take the fox and the corn across the river, leaving the goose behind. On the way back, leave the corn on the far side and take the fox back with you.

    Second trip: Leave the fox on the original side and take the goose with you. On the way back, leave the goose on the far side and take the corn back with you.

    Third trip: Take the fox and the corn with you across the river. Toss the fox to the hippo (who needs a fox?) halfway through, then take the goose and the corn home to eat.

    1. (who needs a fox?)

      Unless her name is Meghan. I’m which case, screw the corn, screw the goose. Take the Fox home and screw the Fox.

      1. I think she prefers men

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  12. “If there’s any hope for fiscal sanity to be restored any time soon, it may come in the form of Trump’s diminishing prospects for reelection.”

    Boehm is disingenuous, as its the Democrats who have been trying to greatly expand US spending (to bail out Democrat controlled states). If Biden wins, it will get much worse (especially if Dems take over the Senate).

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