Pouring gasoline on a fire started by Mitch McConnell last week, when the Senate Majority leader said there would be no taxpayer bailout for US states and that he is open to allowing states to declare bankruptcy - rather than sending governors more federal money to deal with their own ballooning deficits, moments ago President Trump tweeted a "question" that is sure to incite the states' - and media's - ire, namely why should taxpayers be bailout out mostly "poorly run, in all cases Democrat run" states.
Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help? I am open to discussing anything, but just asking?
Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help? I am open to discussing anything, but just asking?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 27, 2020
Trump's tweet comes just days after Nancy Pelosi insisted Friday that Congress’ next economic package would provide billions for financially reeling state and local governments, foreshadowing a sharp partisan fight ahead in lawmakers’ continuing response to the coronavirus pandemic.
"There will not be a bill without state and local” aid, Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters in the Capitol. Suggesting that Democrats have leverage to address a problem that shows no signs of vanishing soon, she also said, “There will be a bill, and it will be expensive."
While Pelosi cited no price tag, she said it could be roughly what Congress has already provided for small businesses in previous legislation, which has exceeded $500 billion. Pelosi has begun framing the battle in political terms. She has said House Democrats will include the money in legislation they will call the “Heroes Act” because it will include funds to pay the salaries of police, firefighters, transit workers, health workers in public hospitals and others battling the virus.
With a salmon-colored scarf lowered from covering her face, Pelosi told reporters at a news conference that it would be “morally wrong” to not help those workers. “We can’t defeat this pandemic if Mitch McConnell is letting our health heroes get fired, and that’s what’s happening,” she said.
That was just one of several remarks she made criticizing McConnell by name, something congressional leaders often avoid doing to one another. “Speaking of Mitch, what’s gotten into him?” she said, citing his support for letting states declare bankruptcy.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and other congressional Democrats are also demanding more aid for state and local governments.
Pelosi’s remarks put her in direct conflict with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who as we noted last week, expressed opposition to providing more local help. Indeed, in last week's follow-up bailout bill that Trump signed Friday providing roughly $480 billion more for small businesses and hospitals, Republicans blocked all of the additional $150 billion that Democrats wanted for state and local governments.
McConnell has expressed strong opposition to providing more money for those governments. On Fox News this week, he cited concerns about the mushrooming national debt and opposition to helping states resolve pension and other problems.
“We’re not going to let them take advantage of this pandemic to let them solve problems they created for themselves,” McConnell said.
But what sparked broad democrat outrage, was McConnell's suggestion that states be allowed to declare bankruptcy, which is not currently permitted. His suggestion drew ire from members of both parties because it would jeopardize popular state services and cause their future borrowing costs to soar. Retiring Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., tweeted this week that McConnell’s suggestion “makes McConnell the Marie Antoinette of the Senate.”
Until today, President Donald Trump has been a wild card, making comments that have wavered between support and skepticism - especially with some GOP senators and governors calling for more aid for state and local governments. Last Thursday, Trump told reporters at the White House that “we’re always going to help states,” but added, “The states that seem to have the problem happen to be Democrat.” He added that New York and New Jersey “were in a lot of trouble long before the plague came.”
In light of his latest tweet, we now know where the president stands on this debate... at least for the time being.