Trump threatens to block 'disgraceful' stimulus package

Outgoing president has called on Congress to renegotiate the relief deal, saying the payment that will be given to help American families is too small 

Trump threatens to block 'disgraceful' stimulus package
The outgoing president says American families should get triple the amount of money the second stimulus package will give them. AFP file photo.

(ATF) An outburst by US President Donald Trump – who slammed the second coronavirus package agreed on by Democrat and Republican lawmakers on Monday as a "disgrace" – was largely ignored by investors in Asian markets on Wednesday.

Trump said he would ask Congress to rethink the package – totalling nearly $900 billion – because the payments that families would receive were way too low.

"It really is a disgrace," he said in a video message posted on Twitter.

"I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple," he added, referring to relief cheques that will be sent to families.

"I'm also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation, and just send me a suitable bill."

His outburst was hailed by some agencies as derailing the "Santa rally" that markets have enjoyed since the bill was signed, but investors in Asia were initially unfussed by his latest stunt.

The bigger worry, understandably, has been the surge in virus cases worldwide, including a new strain in the UK that is allegedly more transmissible. This has forced governments to impose tighter restrictions and lockdowns to contain the disease in the lead-up to Christmas.

The spike in infections has overshadowed the rollout of vaccines.

Markets in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Mumbai, Taipei and Manila were all up, with Wellington, in New Zealand, rising by more than 1%. Jakarta and Bangkok were the only markets in the Asia-Pacific to fall.

The outburst by the outgoing US leader has raised the possibility of the stimulus package being held up until after Christmas. But the Democrats have the capacity to force it through, if Trump goes tries to veto the deal.

OANDA's Jeffrey Halley said: "Asia's first reaction appears to be that President Trump is bluffing, or that even if Trump vetoes the fiscal stimulus, Congress will act quickly with the necessary votes" to override his veto. 

"Given that many Congressional representatives have probably already left Washington DC for the holidays, that could be complacent. For now, markets appear to be holding off pressing the sell button until the situation clarifies."

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US relief bill stimulus package Trump Twitter outburst 'disgraceful deal' Veto threat Congress told to renegotiate