Biden Not Backing Down on $1,400 Stimulus Checks
Biden still wants huge stimulus checks but he is Open to Sending the Checks to Smaller Group.
Mr. Biden told House Democrats on Wednesday that he wouldn’t change the amount of the proposed $1,400 payments, saying people had been promised that amount, according to the people.
Beyond sending money to many Americans, the $1.9 trillion proposal would direct aid to state and local governments, provide funds for distributing Covid-19 vaccines and enhance federal unemployment benefits. Money would go toward schools, child-care facilities and renters under the plan, which also seeks to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Republicans have called Mr. Biden’s plan too expensive and premature after Congress approved roughly $900 billion in aid in December, and they have criticized provisions like raising the minimum wage as unrelated to the pandemic. A proposal advanced by 10 Senate Republicans would provide $618 billion in relief, paring back Mr. Biden’s proposals on unemployment insurance and direct checks and eliminating others.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said Democrats “seem desperate to make their first act in power the same kind of massive, partisan, poorly targeted borrowing spree that permanently wounded the last Democratic presidency right out of the gate.”
A Word About Dawdling
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer does not want to dawdle.
“We cannot dawdle, we cannot delay, we cannot dilute, because the troubles that this nation has and the opportunities that we can bring them are so large,” said Schumer.
The Problem With Dawdling
The obvious problem with dawdling is that fiscal sanity might set in.
Senators might look at $1.9 trillion spending proposals and start asking questions such as "Do we really need to spend $1.9 trillion?"
Dead or Alive?
Whether this monstrosity passes will come down to three Democrats rumored to be fiscally conservative.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is one of three.
“If it’s $1.9 trillion, so be it,” Mr. Manchin said on MSNBC. “If it’s a little smaller than that and we find a targeted need, then that’s what we’re going to do.”
The comments from the centrist Democrat from West Virginia provided a boost to party leaders as they pursue passing a relief bill without Republican votes. But they also underscored the power that a 50-50 Senate grants individual senators. Mr. Manchin is still seeking more-targeted aid payments and a smaller increase in the federal minimum wage than what Mr. Biden proposed.
In the evenly divided Senate, Mr. Manchin and other Democratic centrists such as Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Montana Sen. Jon Tester have newfound clout in determining the fate the legislation. Any defection could sink Mr. Biden’s ambitious Covid-19 relief bill, and force the party to broker a deal with Republicans on a smaller package.
It Only Takes One
If Republicans stay united, it only takes one Democrat defection to sink any piece of legislation.
With Manchin on board, the spotlight turns to Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Montana Senator Jon Tester.
And if dawdling lasts too long, perhaps another Senator or two starts wondering "Do we really need to spend $1.9 trillion?" and if so, "How are we going to pay for it?"
What I Expect
Instead of blowing $1.9 trillion, I expect something like $1.5 trillion will get all the Democrat ducks lined up.
Biden will label this a bipartisan success if as few as one Republican plays along. Otherwise Kamala Harris will be the deciding vote.