Marco Rubio Wants Joe Biden To Send You $2000, And You BETTER NOT NEED ANYTHING ELSE
Joe Biden's actual first day in office is just a week away, bringing with it the chance for him to do a lot of that stuff presidential candidates always say they'll get done after they get back from the inauguration, possibly with some wiggle room for their first full day in office, since there'll also be a good bit of settling in, getting the staff's phones figured out, and virtually attending the Zoom-only inaugural balls.
Among other things, Biden's plans for his first day include rejoining the Paris climate agreement, signing executive orders to roll back Trump's restrictions on asylum, eliminate the ban on travel from mostly-Muslim countries, and restore a bunch of environmental regulations Trump weakened. In addition, Biden wants to issue a national mask mandate for federal buildings and for interstate travel, to be followed by working with state governors to regularize efforts to contain COVID-19. He's also promised to send to Congress bills to roll back the Trump tax cuts and to make DACA a law.
To those plans, Sen Marco Rubio (R-Florida) wants Biden to add one more: Direct Congress to pass a new round of $2000 stimulus payments to Americans, and do that on day one, rather than including new individual payments in a more comprehensive stimulus package at some later date. Good for Marco Rubio! Also, Marco Rubio, go fuck yourself!
As far as it goes, calling for a new round of stimmy checks is a great idea. Let's get that done, for sure. Thing is, Rubio didn't only call on Biden to put forward a bill for larger payments to Americans; he also made clear that he didn't think there's much need to do much of anything beyond that, because you know how crazy Democrats get when it comes to spending money:
All too often, popular and necessary legislation is used as leverage to secure passage for policies that cannot pass on their own merit. We have already seen it in the midst of the pandemic when additional funding for small businesses was blocked repeatedly for months on end.
Yup, shame on those Democrats for making Mitch McConnell refuse to even consider any new stimulus bill for months, until he realized the Georgia runoff elections put his Senate majority at risk. We're fairly sure Rubio didn't have McConnell's crappy liability shield for irresponsible corporations in mind when he mentioned "policies that cannot pass on their own," even though that probably fits the category far better than crazy ideas Democrats pushed, like helping state and local governments.
Just to be clear, that paragraph closes by warning Biden he should just settle for a larger stimulus and not get any big ideas about passing more than that:
Please do not allow direct payments to the American people to get caught up in the normal political games by adding a wish list of far left or other unrelated priorities to this legislation.
Be sure to quote that back at Rubio in a month when he's insisting there can't be any more stimulus without protections for corporations from the raft of lawsuits that never materialized.
Biden has already said he supports the $2000 individual payments, but also that he will insist on a new, comprehensive stimulus package; a full proposal is expected to be rolled out this week. And it's looking like the Biden transition is now thinking that should be a pretty substantial package, as Mother Jonesreports. Initially, the transition was proposing a package that would run about $1.3 trillion, but Senate Democrats, particularly soon-to-be Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, said this is no time to think small.
After all, as Biden saw firsthand, the recovery from the Great Recession ended up far slower and shallower because Barack Obama put forward a fairly small stimulus early on, in hopes of winning over deficit hawks, and with the notion that more stimulus could be passed later. Instead, the deficit hawks swooped down and complained that the modest stimulus was too much, no new stimmy was ever passed, and the recovery got better far too slowly — but steadily enough that it kept going for Donald Trump.
According to one of Mother Jones's sources, Biden is willing to put forward a more aggressive stimulus proposal now that the transition team finally has access to information showing "the full costs to the economy of Trump's bungled response to the virus and his administration's disappointing vaccine rollout."
Trump officials initially blocked the Biden team's access to Tiberius, the database the government uses to monitor vaccine distribution, and the team has only just begun using it: "As we learn more and gain visibility, the calculus changes," the transition source says. Politicoreported on Monday that there are rising concerns Biden may not be able to meet his goal of 100 million Americans vaccinated within his first 100 days.
Surprise! Despite our earlier skepticism, it turns out "Tiberius" really is a thing, and it does not want to play a game of tic-tac-toe.
As of right now, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) is the one Democrat who stands to block the proposal for $2,000 stimulus payments, because he frets it might go to some people who aren't quite desperate enough. That could sink a stand-alone bill, but it's also possible that with the support of Rubio, it could pass (as long as Rubio doesn't turn against his own proposal, as he did with immigration reform years ago).
But whatever Biden does, he shouldn't make any deals to trade away a larger stimmy in exchange for larger individual checks.
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