Foxes v. henhouses
Trump, whose hotel business is losing millions, says 'I'll be the oversight' of $500 billion coronavirus 'slush fund'
One of the big sticking points in a $1.8 trillion coronavirus bailout package Senate Republicans are trying to pass is a $500 billion fund for hard-hit businesses and state and local governments. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would decide the recipients of $425 billion of that money, and the legislation contains no new oversight provisions for how it's doled out, leading Democrats to warn that Mnuchin could use this "slush fund" to bail out politically connected corporations, GOP donors, and even President Trump's private business.
When asked about those concerns during a press conference Monday evening, Trump said: "I'll be the oversight, I'll be the oversight. We're gonna make good deals."
Democrats were not mollified. Trump declined to answer Sunday when asked if his hotel and hospitality businesses would seek some of the prospective bailout money. "Everything's changing, just so you understand, it's all changing," he said. "But I have no idea." While Trump is president, his sons Don Jr. and Eric are running the family business, and like the hotel industry as a whole, the family business is getting hit very hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump's business owns 11 hotels around the world, and "six of its top seven revenue-producing clubs and hotels" have been shuttered because of restrictions meant to halt the spread of COVID-19, The Washington Post reports. Those hotel and clubs — in Las Vegas, southern Florida, New Jersey, Ireland, and Scotland — bring in about $174 million a year in revenue, or $478,000 a day, according to Trump's most recent financial disclosures, the Post reports.
Bailout funds aside, Trump has a conflict because following the advice of scientists and public health experts to restrict travel hurts his private business, while "lifting the guidelines will translate into a horrifying number of American deaths," Axios notes. On Monday, Trump suggested he will err on the side of short-term economic considerations, saying the U.S. will "soon be open for business, very soon."