Stimulus deal has little chance before election

Washington: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that the White House won’t let differences over funding targets for Covid-19 testing derail stimulus talks with top Democrats.

Later, President Donald Trump said that he would raise his offer for a stimulus package above his current level of $1.8 trillion. House Democrats have passed a $2.2 trillion bill.

“I would. Absolutely I would. I would say more. I would go higher. Go big or go home, I said it yesterday,” the president told Fox Business.

The president also took a swipe at his Treasury secretary, as CNBC reported: “So far he hasn’t come home with the bacon.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the lead negotiator for Democrats, had identified testing as one of the main sticking points in talks. Mnuchin appeared to cede ground to the speaker in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“That issue is getting overblown,” Mnuchin said. “We’ve agreed to $178 billion overall for health. It’s an extraordinary amount of money. We’d agreed with the Democrats with $75 billion going to testing, contact tracing.”

Republican Senators headed by Mitch McConnell have no appetite for a bill as big as discussed by the White House and Pelosi, and Mnuchin has accepted that a deal before the election looks very difficult.

 The comments from Mnuchin and Trump came after the Labor Department’s jobless claims report added to concerns that the recovery in the U.S. labor market may be slowing.

The department reported that the number of first-time applicants for state unemployment insurance rose to 898,000 during the week ended Oct. 10. That total was the highest number since Aug. 22.

The public health crisis also shows few signs of abating, adding urgency to calls for further federal intervention.

 

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