Trump’s Delay in Signing the December Relief Bill Cost $17.6 Billion That Should Have Gone to Those in Need

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Just because Trump is out of office, it’s too soon to stop hating him. Especially when we keep finding out more about how incompetent and self-absorbed he was as a president, including when it mattered most, toward the end. That was when the pandemic was out of control, thanks to his mismanagement.

A new report from the Century Foundation shows that by playing golf on Christmas Eve 2020 instead of signing the bill to extend pandemic relief to out of work Americans, he cost them — and all of us — about $17.6 billion.

One month after the law’s enactment, nearly a quarter of the states have not resumed paying out federal pandemic aid. Moreover, an additional twelve states took three weeks or more to start up the payment of PUA, and fifteen states needed three weeks or more to reup PEUC.

By our calculations, these delays have resulted in shortchanging jobless workers by about $17.6 billion in benefits for the first four weeks in January 2021—38 percent less than these workers were due to receive. This is money that these workers and their families needed to pay rent, put food on the table, stay out of poverty, and keep America’s economy running while they looked for work.

You probably remember Trump’s grandstanding about signing the bill.

Congress worked overtime to have it on his desk in time to keep the relief flowing without interruption. But Trump, as the New York Daily News documented back then, wanted to be able to take credit for something bigger.

…before leaving for Florida on Wednesday [Dec. 23], Trump blindsided members of his own party by announcing he wouldn’t sign the bills because he wanted U.S. taxpayers to receive $2,000 stimulus checks instead of the $600 payments earmarked in the legislation.

We watched Trump shoot the hostage throughout his presidency, constantly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, because he thought his way would make him look better and lead to his re-election.

Despite losing the election on Nov. 3, Trump was still in full campaign mode around Christmas (and indeed, to this day). Uncapping the gold-engraved Sharpie to add his cartoon signature to the bill would have helped Americans but Trump couldn’t see how it would help him. So he was off to the links — for his 294th round of golf since taking office.

While Trump was on his Trump-owned golf course running up a tab for taxpayers, states were closing the books on the assistance they had been providing. Issuing any future relief would have to start from scratch if and when a new bill was approved by the president.

Trump piled avoidable stress on workers literally at the end of their financial lifelines.

While any delayed benefits would be paid retroactively, these delays have consequences. Among Americans who did not have the same income as before the pandemic, 72 percent said they had trouble meeting basic household expenses and 31 percent reported not having enough money to pay for food…Put simply, a retroactive check in February can’t be used to put food on the table in January.

What did Trump get for all this mayhem? Absolutely nothing. He signed exactly the same version of the bill on Dec. 27 that he could have signed on Dec. 24.

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