The economic impact of COVID-19 is gargantuan and the decline is tragically affecting the lives of millions of Americans. 17 million have filed for unemployment in the last three weeks, there are mile long lines at food banks, and nearly one third of Americans didn’t pay their rent in April. After finally passing the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which includes the disbursement of $1,200 stimulus checks to many individuals, the Treasury Department has decided to stop the printing presses momentarily. Why?
Cars wait in a line that was several blocks long at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank
The issue boils down to a simple question: What matters more during a crisis, getting stimulus checks to individuals in need as quickly as possible or ensuring that the checks bear President Trump’s name? Sadly, the Treasury Department and Trump believe the latter.
The Treasury Department has instructed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to print Trump’s name on the “memo” line of the stimulus checks it will soon mail out to tens of millions of people. According to multiple IRS officials, this decision will delay the issuance of paper checks as the IRS information technology team needs to make a programming change before the checks are passed to the Bureau of Fiscal Service for printing and issuing. Chad Hooper, national president of the IRS’s Professional Managers Association, told The Washington Post that “any last minute request like this will create a downstream snarl that will result in a delay.”
Putting Trump’s name on the checks is neither required nor in keeping with protocol. In fact, having the president’s name appear in the “memo” section is a sneaky workaround, because Mr. Trump is not legally authorized to sign stimulus check disbursements.
Multiple news outlets reported that Mr. Trump suggested the idea to Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, who directed the Treasury Department to work on the proposal. The change was communicated to the IRS’s information technology (IT) team on Tuesday. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, denounced the move. “Donald Trump is further delaying cash payments to millions of Americans struggling to pay the rent and put food on the table to feed his ego,” Mr. Wyden said. “Only this president would try to make a pandemic and economic catastrophe all about him.”
But perhaps the greatest irony comes down to another simple question: Who is going to deliver the paper stimulus checks that now include Trump’s name? The United States Postal Service (USPS). The same entity that Trump has refused to bailout and the same one over which he threatened to veto the entire CARES Act.
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