So, the American people will only receive more of their money back if Pakistan, Cambodia, Israel, and Egypt get U.S. tax dollars first? The Swamp’s political theater has recently completed its performance of the second act in the COVID-19 stimulus and relief drama. The nation’s capital is now transitioning to Act Three in which the population learns whether they will be extended $600 or $2,000 checks. President Donald Trump is on board, the Democrats sniffed a political opportunity, and Republicans are on the fence.
Democrats Swing and Republicans Balk
In the House of Representatives, lawmakers approved a standalone coronavirus relief bill that would increase the direct income-support payments from $600 to $2,000 following President Trump’s demands. The measure was overwhelmingly approved 275 to 134, with 130 Republican representatives blocking the legislation.
The congressional approval comes one day after President Donald Trump signed the $908 billion COVID-19 stimulus and relief bill and the $1.3 trillion omnibus plan, despite calling them a disgrace. In a December 27 statement, the president announced that he would sign the coronavirus and broader government spending packages “with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed.” He also promised “much more money is coming,” adding that “I will never give up my fight for the American people!”
The next step involves sending the bill to the Senate for approval, where it could face obstacles in the GOP-controlled chamber. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has not indicated any plans to vote on larger payments, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) considered an attempt to pass the bill on December 29. Sen. Schumer confirmed that “no Democrats will object” to $2,000 checks.
Republican senators have not been unified on where they stand if the bill makes it to the Senate floor. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) expressed his concern about the long-term effects of new spending, but he noted that “we cannot ignore the fact that millions of working-class families across the nation are still in dire need of relief.” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), alongside Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), has been pushing for the checks as part of the relief package. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) rejected $1,200 payments twice.
Whatever the result is, it could play a pivotal role in the Georgia special election next month.
Although there is some uncertainty surrounding the dollar figure, the Treasury Department confirmed that stimulus checks are still scheduled to start going out this week. Should the U.S. government approve the $2,000 payments, the Treasury would add to the already deposited funds.
‘A Down Payment’
No matter what happens, Joe Biden and prominent Democrats have called the latest round of COVID-19 relief a “down payment,” promising even more spending next year. Biden said “it is just the beginning,” adding in a statement:
“Immediately, starting in the new year, Congress will need to get to work on support for our COVID-19 plan, for support to struggling families, and investments in jobs and economic recovery. There will be no time to waste.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shared Biden’s views, calling it “a down payment on what is needed to crush the virus.”
Sen. McConnell has been less forthright about pursuing additional relief, recently telling reporters that “I’m happy to evaluate that based on the needs that we confront in February and March.” Some of his Republican colleagues have uttered comparable language, including Sen. John Thune (SD), who explained that if the vaccines are rolled out and the national economy improves “then maybe there’s less of a need.”
With all the talk of stimulus checks, negotiations and media coverage are omitting one key detail.
Lost in Translation
President Trump’s December 22 speech demanded both $2,000 checks and waste reduction. While they were keen on agreeing to more spending, Democrats and their allies in the establishment press ignored the part about cutting pork for lobbyists, special interests, and foreign governments.
As Liberty Nation reported, some of the expenditures in the more than 5,000 pages include $85 million for Cambodia, $89 million for new Capitol Hill furniture, $10 million for gender programs in Pakistan, and $25 million for additional staff salary in the House. The president may have redlined some of these items, but a history of greed and incompetence in Washington suggests the rescissions will either be ignored or minimized by the legislators.
Still, the reportage over the COVID-19 relief bill and omnibus package has been selective.
What Fiscal Responsibility?
Whether it is $600 or $2,000, the federal deficit is set to explode again, adding to the $28 trillion national debt. The Democrats’ position on this issue is unsurprising as they have always championed doling out more of your money, no matter who is in charge of the executive branch. The Republicans’ stance is the confusing one. Despite being ebullient in approving deficit-financed spending for the last four years, the GOP now has reservations about giving the nod to new outlays. Where was this fiscal responsibility from 2017 to 2020 when it was needed the most?
Read more from Andrew Moran.