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Stop the Presses

In a race to the bottom, nobody wins.

Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader and frequent Trump antagonist, announced that he will include a provision in the next virus relief package to prohibit the name of the President or Vice President from appearing on stimulus checks sent to the American people. Schumer said that taxpayer relief checks should not be delayed by printing the President’s name on them. He prefers to delay the checks by clogging up the next relief package with excess wording and needless debate.

“President Trump unfortunately appears to see the pandemic as just another opportunity to promote his own political interests,” the senior senator from New York told Politico. “The No PR Act puts an end to the president’s exploitation of taxpayer money for promotional material that only benefits his re-election campaign.”

Stimulus checks seem to be the thing for Presidents to do these days. President Trump’s is the third consecutive administration under which checks have been sent directly to the American people. The previous checks did not have the names of George W. Bush or Barack Obama on them. So yes, it is a very “Trump” thing to do include his name on the checks, even though Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, claims it was his idea. But the administration insists that this gimmick has not slowed down the printing or distribution of checks.

The government will provide about 150 million stimulus payments. The first 88 million were done by direct deposit. Last week, they began mailing paper checks, and expect to send about 5 million checks per week. It took presumably very little time to program the printing presses to include the President’s name in the memo field, and no additional time to print them. Maybe printing “Donald J. Trump” 62 million times will cost taxpayers a couple thousand dollars in ink. That’s a drop in the ink barrel compared to the waste that Congress has written into the relief packages thus far. So Schumer’s secondary argument that adding the President’s signature “is a waste of time and money,” falls flat.

Ironically, the “No PR Act,” as Schumer dubbed the proposal, may generate bad PR for Democrats in Congress. Choosing to prioritize swiping at the President in a time of crisis takes the spotlight temporarily away from some of Trump’s recent blunders.

Still, Senator Schumer and his tag-team partner, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, just keep on taking Trump’s bait, and making fools of themselves in the process. Pelosi’s manual shredding of the State of the Union Address was a classless example of just how much the President gets under their skin, and how rabidly they will scratch the itch. So his name is on the checks. So what? Criticize him in the media. Mock him on Twitter. Don’t bog down relief to the hurting public with spiteful clauses that further bloat the next piece of legislation.

It’s not like the signature is doing any harm. And despite Schumer’s fears, I doubt seeing Trump’s name on a stimulus check would swing any voters his way in November. Americans aren’t that shallow. Then again, two people drank fish tank cleaner and some reportedly tried ingesting Lysol because they thought the President prescribed such treatments…

So the next great Congressional debate is all teed up and Senator Schumer seems determined to make sure Congress retains an approval rating that is less than half of the President’s. Just because you can’t win a race to the bottom, it doesn’t mean you should try to be the first to lose.

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