Trump Is Scared of Being Humiliated By Pelosi Again

Even in the midst of a national crisis, the president is consumed with nursing his fragile ego.

Last week, Congress passed a bill to spend $8.3 billion on fighting the spread of the coronavirus, more than triple what the Trump administration had requested. Nevertheless, the president signed the bill.

Now, as the country is teetering on the brink of a recession, there is talk of passing another spending bill to shore up the economy. During his speech from the Oval Office on Wednesday night, this is what Trump proposed.

President Trump spoke from the Oval Office late Wednesday, announcing the administration would take action on its extending paid leave to people affected by coronavirus — though details on how were sparse — and calling on Congress to extend that work. He said the Small Business Administraiton would exercise available authority to provide capital to firms affected by the coronavirus outbreak, and called on Congress to devote an additional $50 billion to the effort…

Trump also said the Internal Revenue Service would defer some tax payments, and he renewed his call for a broad payroll tax cut, something that’s widely opposed on Capitol Hill and not expected to advance…The tax cuts alone that the White House has proposed could cost as much as $400 billion over one year.

Trump has also proposed a bailout for certain industries affected by the coronavirus, such as airlines, hotels, and cruise lines.

On Thursday, the House is set to vote on a package that is focused primarily on putting families first.

The legislation includes free coronavirus testing, up to three months of emergency paid leave benefits to all workers affected by the coronavirus, and could also include an 8 percentage point increase in the federal share of Medicaid payments to states, lawmakers and aides said…

The paid sick leave component of House Democrats’ plan would replace two-thirds of wages for most workers, up to a $4,000 a month plan. The proposal would extend eligibility for unemployment insurance. It is also expected to include about $1 billion in emergency appropriations to expand access to food security programs including food stamps, Meals on Wheels and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan report that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been putting that package together and, when it comes to coordinating with the White House, she’s been working with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Just hours before [a meeting between Mnuchin and Pelosi], Trump had taken his latest shot at Pelosi in a morning tweet. But that didn’t deter the speaker, who huddled with Mnuchin for a 30-minute meeting in her office. The two also chatted on the phone twice on Wednesday, and Pelosi is now on the verge of pushing through a massive stimulus bill that could earn GOP support, as well as Trump’s signature…

For any other leader, the rapid turnaround on the recovery plan would be a herculean feat at best. But for Pelosi, successfully negotiating a multi-billion-dollar economic package with a hostile and often antagonistic Trump administration was just another day in the speaker’s suite.

It’s also a reminder that for all Trump’s omnipresence on Twitter and cable TV, Pelosi remains the dominant figure on Capitol Hill when it comes time to actually getting something accomplished.

The reason Pelosi is working with Mnuchin instead of Trump is that our commander-in-chief is having a bit of a hissy fit about how the Speaker of the House has been treating him. According to NBC reporter Eamon Javers, Trump feels too personally wounded by impeachment and other interactions with Pelosi to get in a room with her. Apparently, the president is worried about being humiliated once again.

All of official Washington has come to an agreement that swift, bold action is needed to counteract the dramatic economic impact of the coronavirus’ spread. But negotiations around such a package have been complicated by the fact that President Donald Trump can’t stand the idea of negotiating one-on-one with his chief counterpart, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Indeed, he suspects that she would use the moment to try to humiliate him.

Two senior Trump administration officials described a president who, out of an intense bitterness toward the House Speaker, has shuddered at the prospect of being in the same room with her during the ongoing public-health crisis and economic reverberations.

If memory serves, the last time Speaker Pelosi attended a meeting with the president at the White House, it was to discuss his decision to remove U.S. troops from Syria. She pointed out that, when it came to his actions, “all roads lead to Putin.” That is the moment that was captured by the White House photographer with this image that went viral.

Donald Trump

You can understand why the petulant child doesn’t want to repeat that scene. So even in the midst of a national crisis, he is refusing to be in the same room with the one person whose cooperation he needs to address the situation.

I doubt that any of this bothers Nancy Pelosi. She’s too busy trying to actually get something done. But this is the president—who sold himself as a master dealmaker—demonstrating that he’s too scared of being humiliated by a woman to even meet with her. For anyone interested in learning how to deal with a narcissistic bully, Pelosi has been giving us a master class on the subject for months now.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.