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President Trump. Photo: Tia Dufour/The White House via Getty Images

Markets were stunned by President Trump's announcement on Twitter that the White House was pulling out of stimulus discussions with House Democrats on Tuesday — and several Trump advisers even told Axios' Jonathan Swan they were perplexed by the "inept" decision, calling it a "gift" for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But it makes sense if you follow the logic of Trump's economic advisers.

Where it stands: Trump has surrounded himself with die-hard acolytes of supply-side economics, like one-time pick for the Federal Reserve Stephen Moore, who argue that fiscal stimulus measures and increased benefits for unemployed Americans not only don't help, but hurt the economy.

  • "We're very worried about Trump doing a deal with Pelosi that would have very negative effects on the economy," Moore told Axios' Alayna Treene in July.
  • Moore predicted that if unemployment benefits from the CARES Act are extended, "You're not gonna have a jobs recovery in the fall. Not only is that bad for millions of Americans, but Trump can't win an election if we don't have a good economy."

Those advisers have been lobbying Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who's leading negotiations for the White House, to focus exclusively on tax cuts and more deregulation to counter the downturn.

The intrigue: Trump's economic adviser Larry Kudlow is also a dyed-in-the-wool supply-sider and has been calling for payroll tax cuts while playing down the value of relief spending for months.

  • Other prominent conservatives have consistently hit the talking point that the recovery from the global financial crisis was the weakest since the Great Depression because of stimulus measures.
  • Such thinking ignores the low growth environment globally and the fact that President Obama and a Republican Congress followed the stimulus with fiscal austerity measures.

One level deeper: Americans have been growing concerned about the spiraling U.S. budget deficit and the national debt, which has surpassed U.S. GDP, while the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio is on course to overtake even World War II levels.

  • The orthodoxy of fiscal conservatism and fear about the debt emboldened Republican senators to insist on a hard price cap for a second relief bill.
  • And better-than-expected readings on jobs and stocks also kept pressure off to make a deal.
But Investors think stimulus is still coming
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

While the stock market turned decisively negative after Trump's tweet, Treasuries and currencies were little moved.

  • Many investors focused on the end of Trump's tweet — that a stimulus bill would be passed after the election — and expect that more spending will be delivered at worst in early 2021 no matter who wins November's election.
  • "What we don’t know is how much gamesmanship is taking place behind the scenes that we’re not privy to," Tom Stringfellow, president and CIO of Frost Investment Advisors, tells Axios.
  • "Is this a negotiation ploy? That’s not an outlandish statement in politics for either party, playing a little bit of poker."

Stay woke: Trump tweeted later on Tuesday that he wanted Congress to approve $25 billion in aid for airlines and $135 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, plus a standalone bill providing $1,200 direct payment checks for Americans.

Editor's note: Article corrects Tom Stringfellow's title to CIO, or chief investment officer, from CEO.

Go deeper

Top Republicans want Trump done — forevermore

President Trump faces reporters as he walks toward Marine One yesterday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Top Republicans want to bury President Trump, for good. But they are divided whether to do it with one quick kill via impeachment, or let him slowly fade away.

  • A House impeachment vote, which would make Trump the first president to be impeached twice, is expected in mid-afternoon.

The big picture: Sources tell Axios Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be more likely than not to vote to convict Trump — a green light for other Republican senators to follow.

Capitol assault only one reason Trump impeached

A television in the White House briefing room shows the near-final impeachment vote against President Trump. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump didn't earn his historic second impeachment just by inciting a riot on a single day. He laid its foundation event by event during the two months preceding it.

Why it matters: Uneasiness built to rage among some Republicans as the president challenged the election results, blocked important legislative accomplishments and cost the party its hold on the Senate.

Updated Jan 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Trump becomes first president to be impeached twice

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House voted 232-197 to impeach President Trump for “incitement of insurrection" after a violent pro-Trump mob breached the U.S. Capitol last week while Congress met to count the Electoral College vote.

Why it matters: Trump is now the only president in history to have been impeached twice — his first impeachment happened just over a year ago in December of 2019. He has just one week left in his term before President-elect Biden is sworn-in on Jan. 20.