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Trump Veto Of COVID-19 Bill Unlikely But Threat Creates Toxic Uncertainty, Says Economic Expert

Hank Fishkind. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

President Donald Trump late Tuesday threatened to torpedo Congress’ massive COVID-19 relief package in the midst of a raging pandemic and deep economic uncertainty, suddenly demanding changes fellow Republicans have opposed.

The announcement – via a video posted on Twitter – comes after Congress passed the hard-won bipartisan $900 billion package and recessed for the holidays.

Trump called on lawmakers to increase direct payments for most Americans from $600 to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples. His other demands were mostly related to the separate omnibus funding measure attached by Congress to the COVID-19 relief package for administrative purposes.

If Trump were to upend the legislation, the consequences would be severe, including no federal aid to struggling Americans and small businesses, and no additional resources to help with vaccine distribution. In addition, because the COVID-19 relief bill is linked to that overarching government funding measure, the government would shut down on Dec. 29.

But Orlando-based economic analyst Dr. Hank Fishkind says he doesn’t believe Trump will actually veto the bill. He says the move would simply hurt too many struggling Americans.

“The most likely scenario is that either he signs the bill or he lets it come into law without his signature,” says Fishkind. “I do not think he’s going to veto this bill. There’s just too much on the line for too many Floridians, and too many people across the United States.”

But, Fishkind adds, there’s now a new uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 measure, an agreement that took Congress months to reach. Democrats, who have been pushing resistant Republicans for larger direct payments to Americans, are saying that they may take Trump at his word and vote for the increase to $2,000. Or, if Trump actually vetoes the legislation, Congress could work to override the veto.

Fishkind says this uncertainty is economically harmful.

“It doesn’t allow people to make plans, and it continues to make people very nervous,” says Fishkind. “People in Florida are suffering greatly. We have almost 15 percent of people in Florida that are food insecure right now. There is a desperate need for some additional support for all people in the United States, particularly people here in Florida.”

The relief package also includes a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit, along with a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, and money for schools, health care providers and renters facing eviction.

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