Democrats abandon the unemployed


Eli Rosenberg and Heather Long, “Congress left town and let jobless benefits lapse; Unemployed Americans say they won’t forget it; About 28 million people were receiving unemployment payments on Aug. 1 when the typical aid payment went from more than $900 a week to about $300,” Washington Post, August 27, 2020 (5:19 p.m. ET).

There has been little news anout negotiations for a stimulus program that would provide stimulus payments for the unemployed that would replace the $600 a week they were receiving through July, 2020.

Trump has promised to reallocate funds by Executive Decree that would provide additional payments of $300 a week until the money runs out, in about three or four weeks.

The Democrats did not raise this as a major issue at the Democratic National Convention.

Reports suggest Biden may try to pass a $1 trillion stimulus bill after January 20, 2021 if he wins the November, 2020 election.


Hans Nichols and Felix Salmon, “Team Biden eyes a trillion-dollar January stimulus,” Axios, August 30, 2020.

The White House negotiating team of Steve Mnuchin and Mark Meadows have refused to compromise with the House Democrats, and have basically abandoned the talks—and the unemployed.

What is more surprising is that the House Democrats seem to have abandoned the unemployed as well.  Even if Biden is elected and manages to get through a $1 trillion stimulus bill in late January, it is hard to see how that will help the tens of millions who are currently unemployed survive, having received no unemployment stimulus payments from August through December?

Mnuchin, reportedly worth $400 million, and Meadows, reportedly worth as much as $5 million, are not themselves feeling any pain. Why should they care?

There appear to be only two ways for the unemployed to receive additional unemployment stimulus checks in the near term.

The first is if the House Democrats condition their approval of a new debt limit bill, due by September 30, on the inclusion of federal unemployment benefit checks for August through January.

The second path to a compromise would involve Senate passage of a stimulus bill and then negotiation of a compromise with the House bill in a House-Senate conference committee. This would effectively take the negotiations out of the hands of Mnuchin and Meadows.  Senate Republicans up for re-election would probably favor such a resolution, while diehard Republican fiscal conservatives would probably oppose passage of a Senate bill.

In that case, Democratic votes could be needed to pass the Senate bill and get the negotiations moved to the conference committee. Even if the conferees come up with a compromise, Trump could still veto it. That is where Mnuchin could still play a critical role.

The House Democrats’ greatest leverage could be on the debt-ceiling bill.

Yet The Hill reported on Sunday, September 6 that according to Steve Mnuchin, he and Nancy Pelosi have agreed on a “clean” continuing resolution to avoid a government shut-down on September 30.

See Zack Budryk, “Mnuchin: ‘The president and I believe we should do more stimulus’,” The Hill, September 6, 2020 (09:38 AM EDT).

If this it true, it signals the ultimate sell-out by Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats of the unemployed.

So far we have not heard either the House Democrats or Joe Biden speak out loudly in favor of immediate federal stimulus payments for the unemployed.

Biden’s silence on this issue seems sharply at odds with all of his talk about supporting working men and women. The fact that his team is thinking about putting action off until late January is simply appalling.

In short, it appears that both Biden and Pelosi and the House Democrats are prepared to sell out the unemployed.

This is ultimately a test of whether or not Biden will not only say the right words, but also be tough and fight hard to defend working men and women.

Perhaps this silence is part of Biden’s campaign strategy. If it is, it is craven, and could cost him the election.

If the unemployed see they have been abandoned by the Democrats, they may just not bother to vote on November 3.

The Trenchant Observer

See also,

1) Ben Casselman, “Small-Business Failures Loom as Federal Aid Dries Up; Many owners face tough choices after a federal loan program and other government moves to bolster the economy have run their course,” New York Times, September 1, 2020 (5:00 a.m. ET),

2) Paul Krugman, “Trump Had One Good Response to Covid-19. His Party Killed It; Aid to the unemployed saved us from disaster; Now it’s gone,” New York Times, August 31, 2020.

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.