September 7, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic unleashed an unprecedented increase in government spending around the globe, with the U.S. spending nearly $6 trillion.
Two trillion of the spending was in the form of the CARES Act, which included $1,200 stimulus checks, expanded unemployment benefits, and the PPP program. Another $3.5 trillion has been spent providing aid to state and local governments, and hospitals.
As Congressional Republicans and Democrats are at a stalemate over additional stimulus, President Trump is mulling using leftover funds from the first stimulus to fund another round of $1,200 checks.
According to Fox Business:
“We have $300 billion in an account that we didn’t use. I would be willing to release it, subject to Congress, and use that as stimulus money and it would go right to the American people,” Trump said during a White House press briefing.
Although Trump said he considered redirecting the funds unilaterally, he was told he needed Congress’ approval.
Trump did not specify what the funding source is, but may have been referring to unused business loan money approved by lawmakers at the end of March in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act. Under the stimulus package, Congress appropriated $500 billion to the Treasury, with $454 billion intended to cover losses on Federal Reserve lending programs. So far, $259 billion of that funding remains uncommitted.
“It’s money that we have — money that we built up and money that we haven’t spent, and I would love to give it to the American people as a very powerful stimulus,” Trump said.
He continued: “I think there is a theory that I could do it without having to go back, but I think it would be appropriate to go back, and I would ask Congress to approve it. It’s a very simple approval. It’s — literally, it’s a one-sentence approval, and the Democrats should do that. The Republicans will do that. They would be glad to do that.”
So whether these funds do end up being disbursed in the form of stimulus checks depends on how desperately Congressional Democrats want to play politics with that money.
Democrats are currently seeking $2 trillion in additional stimulus, while Republicans want the amount to be closer to $1 trillion. It should be interesting to see what excuses they come up with against deploying the $300 billion in funds currently sitting by idly.