For the second time in six months, Steve Mnuchin is emerging as lower- and middle-income Americans’ best hope when it comes to convincing Republicans to support an expensive stimulus package that includes relief for households and everyday people.
The English language fails as a sufficient tool to communicate how ironic it is that a man of Mnuchin’s aristocratic pedigree — whose resume includes a stint as the foreclosure king of California, and whose third wife enjoys trolling the proletariat on Instagram — became the go-between responsible for unlocking hundreds of billions in assistance for small businesses and unemployed Americans in their time of need.
That’s not to say Mnuchin and Republicans haven’t managed to include plenty of opportunities for big business and other arguably less deserving parties to benefit from the funds disbursed during the coronavirus crisis.
It’s just to say that Mnuchin probably never imagined he would become one of the most powerful policymakers on the planet, credited alongside Nancy Pelosi as an architect of the largest bailout in American history, complete with two rounds of cash handouts to citizens whose annual income sums to less than Louise Linton’s monthly shoe budget.
How did it come to this? By most accounts, the explanation is that in an administration characterized by a credibility deficit larger than America’s budget hole, Mnuchin stands alone as the only top official capable of acting rationally and making decisions that can be roughly described as “good”.
Sheelah Kolhatkaprofile piece published earlier this month in The New Yorker. The following short excerpts capture the gist of it:explained this dynamic as part of a
Katie Porter, a House Democrat from California, told me that, though she and Mnuchin have distinctly different ideas about how to best help working people, she appreciates that he is willing to engage on the issues, and that he rarely takes public stances on non-Treasury topics. With Mnuchin, she said, “there’s an opportunity here to collaborate and to be successful.”
“He’s one of the few competent people in the Trump Administration, and he had his hands in everything,” a congressional aide close to the talks said.
On Sunday, Mnuchin spoke to Fox’s Chris Wallace, whose interview with the president earlier this month was an embarrassment for the White House. Mnuchin emphasized that the GOP proposal for the next round of stimulus will be released on Monday.
“We’re prepared to act quickly. This is all about kids and jobs”, he said. “This is our focus, and we want to make sure something gets passed quickly so that we deal with the unemployment and all the other issues”.
Pressed specifically by Wallace on the expiring federal unemployment benefits, Mnuchin delivered a passable answer.
“We want to have something which pays people about 70% wage replacement, which I think is a very fair level”, he explained. “So it’s not a fixed number. It’s something that pays you a percentage of your wages that are lost”.
That, apparently, will be the pitch. Whether Democrats go along with it is another matter entirely.
“The only thing they’ve accomplished in the Trump administration on their own was a tax cut for the wealthiest people in America and they’re resenting $600 for single moms to be able to put food on the table? Or dads to maintain the dignity of keeping their families intact?”, Nancy Pelosi wondered, during an interview with CBS on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Larry Kudlow wants the public to know that despite the US having just experienced the worst quarter for the economy in at least a century, almost everything is in a “boom”.
Somebody forgot to tell the nearly 32 million Americans who claimed some form of unemployment benefits in the week through July 4.
Asked by an incredulous Jake Tapper whether reinstated lockdown measures in some of the country’s largest states may put the brakes on the “boom” Kudlow imagines is unfolding, Larry said “I don’t think it’s going to have a huge impact”.
To quote Sigourney Weaver, from Aliens, “I hope you’re right. I really do”.