Most of the stimulus money going out this week will be in the form of electronic transfers, but the paper checks mailed out by the Treasury will have a curious addition, the signature of President Trump.
The 2020 stimulus checks will be the first IRS disbursements to ever bear the name of the president, who has no authorization to sign checks for the federal government. The checks will be signed by an official from the Bureau of the Fiscal Service reports Axios.
Although electronic transfers are already being received, paper checks will be mailed starting on May 4 with the last checks going out in August. Treasury officials denied that adding the president’s name had delayed the checks.
The Washington Post reported that Trump had suggested to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin that he be allowed to sign the checks. Since the president has no legal authority to do so, the phrase “President Donald J. Trump” will appear on the memo line of the checks instead.
The obvious ploy is to make voters think that President Trump is responsible for the stimulus checks. If the president had been allowed to sign the checks, some voters might have even been persuaded that Mr. Trump was personally sending them money.
Trump supporters will obviously love seeing their president’s name on the checks. For weeks, the president’s backers have been shouting online that if he’s not your president, don’t cash the check. Nevermind that the money being disbursed belongs to the taxpayers, not the government.
However, Mr. Trump’s penchant for putting his name on everything will come at a political price. With the Coronavirus recession looming and seeming less and less likely to be a quick downturn and recovery, there is already talk of additional stimulus bills.
When those bills come before Congress, you can bet that one of the provisions will be the payments will not include the president’s name. It will merely add another point of contention between the two parties and make compromise even more difficult.
Of course, there might be a way to speed the next bill through Congress without deleting the president’s name. Maybe the next checks will be stamped, “President Donald J. Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.” Republicans wouldn’t object to that, would they?