Check's in the mail? Trump doling out aid before election

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Photo credit President Donald Trump gestures as he steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

CHICAGO (AP) — It's almost as if he's writing a personal check.

In recent days, President Donald Trump has promised millions of Medicare recipients that — thanks to him — they'll soon be getting an “incredible” $200 card in the mail to help them pay for prescriptions. He's called himself “the best thing” that ever happened to Puerto Rico, while releasing long-stalled aid. Trump has also taken to showcasing the $28 billion he “gave” to farmers hard hit by the trade war with China.

“What I’ve done for them, with the $28 billion for the farmers, and that includes you,” Trump told supporters at a rally in Newport News, Virginia, last week — without mentioning that the aid was needed to offset the hit farmers took from his trade standoff with China. “That includes tobacco, that includes a lot of things, but that includes your farmers.”

As Trump talks up heaps of federal aid flowing to key constituency groups in the lead-up to the November elections, he rarely mentions Congress' role in the appropriation of those dollars.

The president was in the battleground state of North Carolina last week when he proposed the idea of $200 drug cards for Medicare recipients — a move that comes as polls show slipping support for the president among older voters. Government officials say key details, like when and how the drug benefit would be paid for, are still being fleshed out.

“I will always take care of our wonderful senior citizens,” Trump said. “Joe Biden won’t be doing this."

Earlier in September, Trump used a rally in northern Wisconsin, a battleground he narrowly won in 2016, to announce another $13 billion in pandemic aid to assist farmers. That came after Trump announced the release of $13 billion in assistance to repair years-old hurricane damage in Puerto Rico and pledged to restore its economy.

He didn’t mention his past harsh comments about the island and its leaders as he looks to curry favor with Puerto Rican voters elsewhere in the U.S., particularly in crucial Florida.

“I’m the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico,” Trump said without a trace of irony. “No one even close.”

On Wednesday, he spoke in personal terms at a rally in Duluth, Minnesota, about his decision to sign an executive order declaring a national emergency in the mining industry. It's a step he said would provide “billions of dollars” to the industry and bring “countless” jobs to the state's Iron Range.

“I will always protect Minnesota,” said Trump, who is looking to add the historically Democratic-leaning state to his win column on Nov. 3. “It’s been very good to me.”

Trump was also happy to have his name splashed on checks when the U.S. Treasury earlier this year sent economic stimulus payments to millions of Americans struggling during the coronavirus. It was the first time a president’s name appeared on any IRS payments, whether refund checks or other stimulus checks that have been mailed during past economic crises.

Similarly, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is including letters signed by the president in boxes of surplus food being distributed around the country to people in need.