Nancy Pelosi must be supremely confident of a sweeping Democratic victory on Nov. 3. How else to explain why she refuses to compromise on a coronavirus relief bill when President Trump is aching for her to accept another $1.5 trillion?

The House Speaker issued her latest refusal to negotiate on Tuesday, saying “the skinny deal is a Republican bill: That’s not a deal at all.” Only a Beltway lifer would call “skinny” the Senate GOP’s offer last week of $500 billion. And that’s only the Senate offer.

Mr. Trump, through Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Speaker’s favorite negotiator, is all but begging Mrs. Pelosi to accept the proposal of some $1.5 trillion that a bipartisan group of 50 House Members released on Tuesday. Yet the Speaker had her committee chairs dismiss even that as inadequate. She’s holding out for no less than $2.2 trillion—on top of the nearly $3 trillion in relief that Congress has already passed this year.

So much the better if this means no deal. The House compromise would still do more economic harm than good by handing $500 billion more to the states that most don’t need, another $1,200 check to individuals, and reportedly $450 a week in enhanced federal jobless benefits. The jobless aid would slow the labor-market recovery by paying many Americans more not to work than taking one of the millions of jobs the Labor Department says are available.

Mr. Trump wants a deal anyway so he can hand out money before the election. Like Mr. Mnuchin, he believes this would help the economy, but at most it would give a short-term lift to consumer spending. The economy is expected to grow by 30% in the third quarter in any case, and consumers have savings they put away during the lockdown months.

There’s also no reason for Mr. Trump to give a break to the swing-district Democrats who are shouting at Mrs. Pelosi to do a deal. Politico reports that backbenchers grew heated on a call Tuesday as they demanded that Democratic leaders pass something they can boast about in the campaign’s final weeks.

Which is all the more reason for Mr. Trump to stop begging and campaign from here to November against the Pelosi Democrats for refusing to compromise. She’s putting a bailout for progressive politicians in blue states ahead of genuine Covid relief, and the voters ought to hear about it before they cast their ballots.

— Wall Street Journal, Sept. 15

Load comments