When Americans receive their stimulus checks from the coronavirus relief package, they may see something unusual on the front of it — Donald Trump’s signature.
A report from the Wall Street Journal claimed that Trump wants to break the normal protocol of having the payment center’s disbursing officer sign checks with his own name replacing it. The report noted that Trump “has told people he wants his signature to appear on the direct payment checks that will go out to many Americans in the coming weeks.”
The relief bill that passed after sometimes tense negotiations between Democrats and Republicans in Congress includes $1,200 stimulus checks for adults who make less than $75,000 and $500 for qualifying children under the age of 16. Trump had publicly expressed support for including direct payments to Americans in the bill, though the number was in flux throughout the negotiations.
Some had predicted that Trump would want to put his literal signature on the check that was a major part of the legislation. CNN host Michael Smerconish had said in the days before the bill passed that Trump would want to have his signature for the political impact it could have, terming it a matter of self-promotion to make Americans believe that he was responsible for the money sent to them.
The Trump administration had already come under fire for a nationwide coronavirus mailing that prominently displayed the president’s name. As USA Today noted, the mailing promoted social distancing guidelines recommended by experts as needed to slow the spread of the virus — even though Trump himself initially pushed back against the severity of the outbreak and later said that he wanted America to re-open weeks sooner than experts had recommended.
Critics said the inclusion of Trump’s name where it was not necessary or helpful to the mailer added an unnecessary political aspect to it.
“Trump is using the CDC and the post office … to promote his own interests,” Michael Carome, director of the health research group at the left-leaning Public Citizen, told the USA Today. “He’s using the levers of government, the agencies at his disposal, to promote him.”
Even the tone of Trump’s daily public briefings on his administration’s response to the coronavirus has been criticized for being unnecessarily flattering to the president. The briefings include updates from top medical experts but have also included members of the president’s administration who took the opportunity to publicly praise his response to the pandemic.