In a conference call with the White House this weekend, a bipartisan group of senators reportedly pushed back against some aspects of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus package, with some of them concerned that the proposal will involve putting too much money in the pockets of “high-income Americans” who aren’t struggling.
“The 75-minute call, set up by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), is one of the first big calls the Biden administration has held as it works to build cross-party support for the $1.9 trillion plan. Senators asked for more data on how the White House filled out its plan,” Politico reported. “The senators told the White House officials they support spending more on vaccine distribution but some balked at the stimulus payments, urging the White House to make them targeted toward those in greater need, according to sources on the call. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) pressed the Biden officials on why families making $300,000 would be eligible and urged a focus on lower-income workers.”
Speaking with Politico, Collins said that the payments “need to be more targeted.”
“I was the first to raise that issue,” she said, “but there seemed to be a lot of agreement.”
Sen. Angus King (I-ME), an Independent who largely caucuses with the Democratic Party, said that he has deep concerns with the sheer amount of money Biden is proposing.
“This isn’t Monopoly money,” he sneered.
The proposal has also drawn concern from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who said this weekend that “the more targeted the assistance can be where it’s needed most, the more helpful.”
The chief concern – that COVID checks are going to go to Americans who have absolutely no need of them – was exactly what stopped Mitch McConnell from supporting $2,000 checks at the end of 2019.
“But above and beyond that discussion, the Democratic leaders have broken from what President Trump proposed. They quietly changed his proposal in an attempt to let wealthy households suck up even more money,” McConnell said. “Speaker Pelosi structured her bill so that a family of four would have to earn more than $300,000 in order not to qualify for more cash.”
Everyone in Congress is more or less on board with putting resources and money into things that matter; primarily, this means getting vaccines out to the states and putting in place programs that will get the most Americans inoculated in the shortest possible amount of time. From there, there are concerns about economic stimulus, but a bill the size of this one inevitably has plenty of room for a trim. The more money we spend now, the greater the chances of one whopper of a tax hike down the road.