It was a momentous event. On Friday, March 27, 2020, a seminal event took place in the precincts of the White House. On this day, President Donald Trump signed into law a special package stashed with a staggering $2.2 trillion golden wallet. The law that set the ball rolling was christened the Coronavirus Stimulus Package.
It was hailed as the most substantial cash package of its kind in the history of the United States. As President Trump famously said during the ceremony, he had previously never signed a similar document with a ‘T’ emblazoned on it. The staggering sum of money was unanimously set aside by Congress to cushion millions of Americans from the swirling effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Relief for Strategic Institutions
Once the law takes effect, experts say that most Americans will enjoy a considerable relief from the impact of the world-shattering pandemic. Institutions that are set to benefit include hospitals and businesses that bear the brunt of the deadly virus. The coronavirus scourge has, for the last few weeks, severely affected the nucleus of America’s economic and healthcare structures.
Loopholes in the Bailout that Could Benefit Trump
Aside from the big hullabaloo, pomp and fanfare, there is something else about the trillions of dollars in this bailout that immediately interests us. Does President Trump himself stand to benefit from this huge splash of money coming straight from the central treasury? After all, he is a highly successful business mogul.
Moreover, we’re left wondering if this will have implications on the President’s political fortunes, particularly the November re-election bid. Several analysts and groups have warned that there are gaping loopholes lurking within the 880-page $2 trillion bailout package that could possibly allow President Trump to gain directly from the historic deal that passed with a record 96-0 vote in the Senate.
Trump Can Exploit a Lacuna in the Ethics Clauses
The watchdog groups have explicitly warned that some subtle loopholes exist in the wording and the ethics ban, spread throughout the document. It is widely feared that, in a theoretical sense, this lapse could allow some prohibited parties a window to gain access and unduly benefit from such state bailout plans.
Never mind that this is the case despite the lawmakers’ careful effort to insert clauses that specifically exclude parties like the President and his family from taking advantage to benefit from state cash. Despite this, a reading of the fine print clearly reveals that the presidents’ businesses may still qualify to receive the cash in one way or another.
Notably, unlike his predecessors, President Trump, on assuming office, chose not to divest from his family companies. Instead, the President simply relinquished the control of the businesses to two of his senior sons, Eric and Donald Trump.
Trump Hinted on Benefitting from Bailout
Early last month, President Trump significantly refused to rule out the possibility that his companies could accept state funds in case these became available. Instead, he abrasively emphasized that everyone knew he was a successful businessman and hotel entrepreneur well before he got elected.
Trump pleaded ignorance about the nature of state funds that could possibly come the way of his businesses, if at all these became available.
Analysts say that, as a result, the presidents’ struggling businesses, including Trump’s country club and several hotel businesses may well receive an unlikely windfall, thus benefitting indirectly from the state disbursed cash, despite the clearly prohibitive spirit of the law.
Moreover, several other golf clubs and hotels owned by President Trump could also access the money that is primarily meant to buttress thousands of vulnerable American businesses and institutions.
Trump Might Benefit Indirectly
In its analysis of the bill, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, an ethics caucus based in Washington DC, noted that the President and his family still stand to benefit from specific provisions in the law that were generally intended to benefit specific segments of the US economy.
In other words, the President and his family could unintentionally benefit from the cash bailout in a manner that was not envisaged. To underscore the point, Jordan Libowitz, the spokesman for the CREW group, said that a careful reading of the law reveals that the President’s businesses could benefit in much the same way other US businesses would. For instance, under the law, some hotel owners that employ thousands of people are allowed to apply for special small business loans. Such provisions could help the President’s companies to benefit in a way that allows them to continue paying employee wages.
There is also the recent change made in the tax code involving some $15 billion. This change came about as a result of a successful appeal by several restaurants and retailers who sought such amendments. President Trump’s businesses may benefit from these clauses as well, thus accessing state funding in a manner that many consider as unethical.
Reeling Trump Businesses Crave the Cash
These factors are important, considering that several of President Trump’s businesses are currently shut down as a direct consequence of restrictions placed by the authorities to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Six of these businesses are, notably, among the most profitable in the Trump Organization stable. Among these is the exclusive Mar-a-Lago resort, located in Florida’s Palm Beach. Others are the luxurious Trump hotels located in the Las Vegas area as well as prime facilities found in Scotland and Ireland.
A few of Trumps’ premier businesses have, nevertheless, continued to run at the height of the coronavirus assault albeit with scaled-down operations. This includes Trump’s Washington hotel, located around the White House neighborhood.
Unclear Political Impact
Regardless, Mr. Trump’s multimillion-dollar businesses are facing some of the most difficult times, coupled with the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. The real estate empire is especially affected, with many of the Trump properties currently on a money-losing streak.
Some hotels and residential apartments that previously paid to benefit from the Trump brand name have since pulled out of the deal to get away from the ravages of politics. It is not immediately clear to analysts how these situations will affect the President’s November re-election bid.