On Tuesday, airline stocks plummeted along with the hearts of many employees as President Trump tweeted that he had halted talks about a second stimulus package until after the election. However, just a few hours later, the President claimed he was ready to “sign now” on a new $25 billion payroll support scheme.
Change of heart within a few hours
Mere hours after President Trump stopped bipartisan talks for a new national stimulus package, he sent out another of his infamous tweets declaring that $25 billion should be approved “immediately” for airline payroll support.
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The President, who himself was recently diagnosed with COVID-19, claimed that the money is available and that he was ready to “sign now.” There is yet to be any more substantial news on whether or not the negotiations will resume when Washington wakes up on Wednesday.
The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support, & 135 Billion Dollars for Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business. Both of these will be fully paid for with unused funds from the Cares Act. Have this money. I will sign now!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2020
Stopping the stimulus a strategic blunder?
The airlines and their employees have been living in limbo for the past month, waiting for Congress and the Trump administration to reach an agreement on a new relief package that could halt the mass furloughs of October 1st. Some carriers, such as American and United, stated that staff could be recalled, and the layoffs reversed if a new deal was to be reached within a few days.
Hopes were dashed, and airline stocks fell sharply earlier on Tuesday however, after the President, again via tweet, announced that he had ordered his administration to stop proceedings until after the election. The particular tweet seems to have since been removed, but according to CNN, it read,
“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business.”
It would seem the President’s strategists may have advised him this was an ill-conceived move leading up to the polls, particularly with early voting already underway in several states. Even die-hard fans of the President have declared their frustration and disappointment over the rash decision.
@realDonaldTrump @POTUS You just lost my vote, never thought I would say that. Thank you for sending myself and my husband to the unemployment line! We needed you to support #ReliefNow#PSPExtension Airlines Need YOU, Families Need YOU, Americans Need YOU! @afa_cwa @FlyingWithSara
— VegasMills (@MillsVegas) October 6, 2020
With four weeks to go to the election, Reuters reports that over four million Americans have already cast their ballot, which suggests this year’s election could see a record turnout.
Union says only Congress can appropriate funds
Following the President’s late recall tweet, Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, issued a “flight attendant public safety announcement,” seen by Simple Flying, which read,
“An overwhelming majority of both chambers of Congress and both political parties have been in support of extending the Payroll Support Program for two months. Only Congress can appropriate those funds and secure the jobs and infrastructure our country needs. We need to stay focused. Millions of lives count on us staying focused. Congress must act.”
The President has previously suggested he would step in to help the airlines if no deal was reached between negotiators. However, the executive order he was keen to sign back in August never materialized.
What do you make of Trump’s Tuesday backtracking on the stimulus package? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.