Subterfuge is deceit used to achieve one’s goal. Donald Trump is the master of this tactic. The president used unfounded racial animus to drum up support for a border wall, instructed his inner circle to downplay the severity of Covid to protect the stock market, and has accused multiple states of ‘stealing’ a fair presidential election to overturn his defeat. In Trump’s latest act of deceit, he uses the promise of $2000 direct payments to scuttle the latest stimulus bill.
In a stunning Tuesday night video, Trump called the $900 billion Covid relief bill passed by Congress an unsuitable “disgrace.” The most unacceptable part of the bill, according to Trump, are the direct payments. “Congress [has] to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low [direct payments from] $600 to $2,000”, Trump said. The issue with Trump’s feigned outrage is he was absent from the relief bill negotiations, and it was his hand-picked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin who advocated for the $600 direct payment.
Trump did not explicitly state he would veto the bill if his demands were not met. A veto was never mentioned because the hard-fought bipartisan bill was passed with a veto-proof majority. Instead, this was a power play to achieve one goal, to damage one-time acolyte Mitch McConnell. The Senate majority leader officially recognized Joe Biden as President-Elect, which immediately drew the ire of Trump.
Less than a week after the McConnell statement on the Senate floor, the Trump administration sent the GOP an email that stated, “Sadly, Mitch forgot. He was the first one off the ship!”. This email included an infographic insinuating without Trump’s support, the speaker would have lost his senate race. This was a clear threat to the GOP, without Trump’s support even the most powerful republicans will lose.
This is another plot to hold onto power by any means by the president. If Trump can prove to republican leadership that he still has the ability to harm their political futures, he will wield that influence to continue to shape the RNC in his image. Trump does not care about direct payments, the 300k Covid deaths, or the millions of unemployed. Trump cares about Trump, so when he says Americans should get $2000 stimulus checks, don’t believe him.