Joe Biden said last week that he would create a multi-trillion dollar stimulus plan that would include $2,000 individual checks to most Americans. It’s likely to be far and away the most expensive legislation in U.S. history as some numbers being floated from the Biden camp are truly frightening. He said the relief package this year will cost “in the trillions of dollars.” No exact numbers have been forthcoming but given everything Biden and the Democrats want on their wish list — including aid to Democratic states whose pension systems are on the brink of imploding — the bill is likely to cost well north of $3 trillion.
The goal is to recreate the feeling of crisis that existed at the beginning of the pandemic. Otherwise, it would be difficult to justify to the public spending billions on climate change and “social justice.” These have nothing to do with the pandemic or the economy for that matter. But given the “crisis,” Democrats believe they can slip these items into the bill without too much notice.
Only one Democratic senator, Joe Manchin, is questioning the wisdom of giving taxpayers who don’t need it another $2,000 stimulus check.
“Absolutely not. No,” Manchin told The Washington Post on Friday, when asked whether he supports a fresh round of stimulus checks. “Getting people vaccinated, that’s job No. 1.”
“How is the money that we invest now going to help us best to get jobs back and get people employed?” he continued. “And I can’t tell you that sending another check out is gonna do that to a person that’s already got a check.”
Biden was initially lukewarm to the idea of a $2,000 stimulus check, but he embraced the concept when Georgia polls showed enthusiastic support for the extra money.
But now that Biden has endorsed the individual checks, Manchin’s opposition threatens to derail the plan. The stock market dropped like a stone after Manchin indicated he would oppose the scheme.
Perhaps realizing that his position as a potential swing vote in the Senate amplified anything he said, Manchin began to walk back the “absolutely not” comment.
He told the Post he would “absolutely not” support larger stimulus checks for Americans, but a spokesperson later seemed to walk back his resistance, insisting Manchin “isn’t drawing a red line against” $2,000 checks, but simply “believes vaccine distribution should be a higher priority,” as NBC News’ Sahil Kapur put it. Perhaps realizing how consequential his hardline opposition to the plan may be, Manchin later tweeted to note he was open to discussion. “If the next round of stimulus checks goes out they should be targeted to those who need it,” he wrote.
The world has changed for Joe Manchin and it’s pretty clear he’s just now picking up on that. He’s no longer an insignificant backbench Democrat. He will be exercising real power in the Senate. He and fellow Democrat Jon Tester as well as Republicans Susan Collins and Mitt Romney will hold the balance of power when controversial legislation comes to the floor.
Biden has hinted he may call for the $2,000 stimulus check to be passed as a separate measure as one of Congress’s first orders of business. That will increase the odds of passage substantially as the rest of the stimulus package will likely have many controversial elements — even among liberals. Negotiations could drag on for weeks.
In all of this maneuvering, has anyone thought to ask if the $2,000 is even necessary? I guess not.