By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on March 27, 2020
President Donald Trump got a huge win in Congress this week when the Senate passed his $2 trillion economic stimulus package on a unanimous vote of 96-0. The House approved the package today on a voice vote. This Congressional action virtually guarantees Trump's re-election in November. Here is why:
Under the stimulus package, $500 billion will be allocated by the Treasury Department for loans to distressed Wall Street corporations. These loans will be backstopped for losses in Federal Reserve lending facilities. An additional $350 billion dollars will be allocated to mid-size and small business. A small business is defined as one with less than 500 employees. Businesses owned by Trump and his family are excluded from receiving any financial assistance from the stimulus package.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who defied a Congressional subpoena to provide Trump's tax returns to a Congressional committee, will decide (in consultation with President Trump) which distressed Wall Street corporations will divide up this $500 billion in loan money among the designated businesses. This money will be wired out the door before the ink from President Trump's signature is dry on the legislation.
The $2 trillion stimulus package is great for the economy, but it was even greater for Donald Trump. In an election year, President Trump/candidate Trump now has the ability to dole out $500 billion in lifeline financial support to distressed corporations of his choosing from a loan fund that he single-handedly controls.
The presidential candidate who holds the power to protect and sustain the financial viability of a major Wall Street corporation during a pandemic is the candidate who will receive the big campaign contributions, directly and indirectly, from the rescued companies. Donald Trump holds this power.
Democratic front-runner Joe Biden is irrelevant at this time. He cannot save a single distressed business in America, and it is highly questionable as to whether he can even save his own candidacy at this juncture.
The Unconscionable Absence of Hazardous Duty Pay for Frontline Healthcare Workers
Hospitals and Veterans Administration medical centers will receive about $150 million from the stimulus package to offset the cost of the surge in critical equipment purchases, staffing, bed space and hospital costs associated with battling COVID 19. Equipment vendors and hospital suppliers will be compensated, as well.
Noticeably absent from the $2 trillion stimulus package is any hazardous duty pay and/or bonus money for frontline doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, hospital orderlies, laundry workers, food services workers, janitors, and other healthcare professionals who rushed to emergency rooms and intensive care units around the nation in a desperate bid to save the lives of crashing COVID 19 patients. These healthcare professionals practiced heroic medicine in the midst of a global pandemic and declared national emergency. They went to the frontlines of the pandemic even when their hospitals did not have the personal protective equipment to keep them safe.
Many of these healthcare professionals contracted the coronavirus themselves. Some of them died in the service of their nation. They sacrificed their own lives in an effort to save ours. Yet, not one dime of stimulus money is set aside to reward them financially for their unselfish service and exceptional bravery in the line of duty. What is worse, not one dime of stimulus money is allocated to compensate the families of frontline healthcare workers who died in the raging battle to save dying patients.
At the very least, the Trump administration should order banks, private lenders, and other financial institutions regulated by the federal government to forgive the student loan debts of every doctor, nurse, respiratory therapist, and other healthcare provider who worked on the frontline to bring the coronavirus under control. They deserve nothing less.
The Impact of Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee
A 2010 U.S. Supreme Court case called Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission gave corporations the legal right to contribute unlimited campaign cash to candidates, PACs, and super PACs in federal elections. At least $1.1 billion of the stimulus money for businesses will eventually find its way into the coffers of candidates for federal office, PACs, and super PACs prior to the 2020 elections. The majority of this money will flow through super PACs.
Super PACs use their money only for independent expenditures. Unlike candidates and regular PACs, super PACs can accept contributions of any size from individuals and corporations. They also have the ability to engage in limitless fundraising. Presently, they are the most powerful forces in politics.
Super PACs take "dark money," or money whose source is hidden from the public. With super PACs, wealthy individuals and corporations simply give money to nonprofits that turn around and give the campaign cash to super PACs. A super PAC need only disclose the nonprofit(s) from which it accepted money, and the nonprofit donor does not need to disclose where the money came from originally.
The donations from stimulus loan recipients are expected to flow to nonprofits that will donate campaign cash to super PACs supporting Donald Trump's re-election. The rescued major corporations, alone, are expected to contribute an estimated one percent of the $500 billion (or $500 million) to super PACs aligned with Trump. Senior management executives at these distressed companies are expected to contribute another $250 million in individual donations to candidates and donations to regular and super PACs.
Rescued medium and small-size business will likely contribute another $350 million to Trump's re-election using the same pass-through campaign donation vehicles. Loan money for these businesses will be administered by the Small Business Administration and private financial lenders that participate in the SBA 7(a) lending program. Under the SBA 7(a) loan program, the lenders issue the loans and the SBA guarantees them.
Individual recipients of stimulus money are NOT likely to contribute any significant amount of cash to Trump's campaign. However, a majority of them will likely vote for Trump if he leads the country through the COVID 19 crisis.
Democrats Outsmarted and Outworked in Developing the Stimulus Package
Except for the failure to compensate frontline healthcare professionals fighting the coronavirus, the Republican-sponsored economic stimulus package was conceived in brilliance. It was thoughtfully crafted and packaged. Then, the package was skillfully managed throughout the legislative process. Democratic lawmakers were outsmarted and outworked by the Republican lawmakers who shepherded the economic stimulus package through Congress.
Democratic lawmakers never fully understood the stimulus package's multi-dimensional impact on the political landscape during an election year. With one brilliant move, candidate Donald Trump created a potential flow of $1.1 billion in campaign donations for PACs supporting his re-election bid. The rescued companies of all sizes and their executives most certainly will thank Trump in a very tangible way.
Joe Biden, the expected Democratic nominee, represents the political version of the Biblical figure named "Lazarus." On Super Tuesday, Biden arose from the dead against Bernie Sanders. However, the Biblical Lazarus arose from the dead only once. The same will probably be true for Biden in the political arena. Barring an act of God, the economic stimulus package virtually guarantees an unprecedented campaign war chest for Donald Trump and a landslide victory for the President in November.
President Trump has survived three separate coup d'etats (i.e., the Robert Mueller criminal investigation; the effort by renegade White House staffers, cabinet members and Republican dissidents to declare Trump "unfit" for office and remove him under the 25th Amendment; and the failed impeachment initiative). The COVID 19 pandemic is the fourth major test of Trump's presidency.
To his credit, Trump had an impressive pre-pandemic track record in creating a surging economy and record low unemployment. This progress occurred during the three-year coup d'etat period.
The President has decided to reopen the economy as early as April in order to prevent Wall Street from collapsing. The stimulus package is designed to bridge business and qualified individuals until the economy is restarted. Another stimulus package will be proposed if more money is needed to prevent the collapse of Wall Street.
Trump has secured ironclad control over the disbursement of stimulus money for distressed large, medium and small-businesses, hospitals, and state and local governments to keep them afloat during the COVID 19 pandemic. The rescued companies and their executives will reward Trump with an unprecedented amount of campaign cash.
All of these factors make President Donald J. Trump the new "Lion King" of American politics.