I never dreamed that RealityChek would ever function as a math tutor, but a post yesterday on CNBC.com indicates that it’s an option I should consider. Because unless my own knowledge of numbers is even less impressive than I’ve always supposed, it looks like this major news organization, or the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, or both, could really use those services.
Here’s the passage that sent my head reeling. It deals with the negotiations between Congress’ Democrats and the Trump administration about the latest legislation intended to offer Americans aid during this deep CCP Virus-induced economic downturn:
“Democratic leaders and the Trump administration have not restarted relief talks since they collapsed earlier this month. Pelosi has put forward a more than $3 trillion rescue package, but Republicans have proposed a roughly $1 trillion plan.
“The sides have failed to find common ground.
“‘We have to try to come to that agreement now,’ Pelosi told Politico on Tuesday. She said Democrats are ‘willing to cut our bill in half to meet the needs right now.’”
“Her spokesman Drew Hammill clarified to CNBC that she was reiterating her previous stance. She has said she would start discussions again if Republicans doubled their roughly $1 trillion relief offer.”
In case you’re still wondering about the problem I’ve detected, let’s take it step-by step:
>The House Democrats approved more than $3 trillion in stimulus spending.
>The administration and Republicans in Congress want $1 trillion.
>The House Democrats have offered to settle for half of their original $3 trillion proposal, which would be $1.5 trillion
>But Pelosi says she won’t resume negotiations until the Republicans double their offer.
>Which would result in the Republicans coming back to the talks supporting $2 trillion.
>Which is $500 billion more than what the House Democrats say they’re willing to accept.
I don’t doubt that Pelosi and her office have razor-sharp political skills, and I rely on CNBC for lots of economic and especially financial news. I also know that the differences between the two parties on the stimulus package involve more than just the totals to be spent. But unless I’ve completely forgotten simple division and multiplication, regardless of what anyone thinks about the merits of this debate, it’s tough to figure out what the Democrats are trying to accomplish here, and why no one working for the Speaker or at CNBC caught a blooper that should be obvious to a third grader.
So I’d be happy to share my knowledge of elementary school arithmetic with anyone at the Speaker’s office or with the network. And because I’m well aware how smart lots of you RealityChek readers are, I’d be happy to find out whether and how I might have messed up myself.