Joe Biden unveiled his proposal for a new, $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill on Thursday night, and while people had many good things to say about the contents of the package, one element of it stood out. Can you guess which one?
Your four-year-old daughter probably just walked into the room and went, “That’s funny. I thought people were getting $2,000 checks. Isn’t that what Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and the Senate candidates in Georgia and pretty much the entire Democratic Party kept hammering over the past couple of weeks? That if Democrats were elected, people would be getting $2,000 checks in the mail? Isn’t $1,400 different than $2,000?”
She’s right. $2,000 checks is what the Democratic Party has been promising for weeks now, including in just the past couple of days.
I like that last one especially, because it literally has a mockup of a check that says $2000 on it, and it comes from Raphael Warnock, whose push for $2000 checks helped galvanize his successful campaign to defeat Kelly Loeffler in Georgia.
Seems pretty straightforward, all things considered. Well, here come the Democrats.
Where’s that four-year-old daughter? She’s probably noticing that the words “a total” have suddenly appeared in front of the magical $2,000 number. That’s odd, she might be thinking. Nobody was talking about “a total” of $2,000 checks, they were talking about a new $2,000 check, straight up!
Wow, your kid is so smart. This is true.
Some people are looking at one number that says 2,000, and another number that says 1,400, and making the obvious demand.
Other people are scoffing at this, asserting that the overall relief bill contains many good items—such as the raising of the minimum wage to $15—and that even Bernie Sanders is on board, and that lefty critics of the bill are just finding something ridiculous to be mad about.
I’m not really here to quibble with the notion that there are good things in this bill. Of course there are good things in this bill! Of course it’s a big deal that the minimum wage could be raised to $15, though that is still not enough. Of course $1,400 checks are better than $600 checks.
But critics are unhappy about the checks because, even though they are still not good enough, and shouldn’t be means-tested, and should be monthly, they were a simple, straightforward piece of public policy that entrenched the idea that giving people some direct money in their pockets is a good thing. They’re unhappy because Democrats made a straightforward promise to voters and are clearly now trying to tell them that the fine print said something else. They’re unhappy because we have the money to give people a $600 check AND a $2,000 check AND do all of the other things in this bill and a whole lot more besides, so why the hell should people not demand that? They’re unhappy because the Joe Biden administration is running around saying it wants to cut deals with Republicans on this legislation, and is now playing games on the most high-profile provision in the package, and is getting too cute with its math instead of pushing for what it pledged to voters over and over again in the last couple weeks, and that is concerning.
It’s true that Squad members like AOC and Rashida Tlaib were, at one point, pushing for the kind of formulation Biden is now sticking to. But that was when the last relief bill was still being wrangled over, and no money had been sent out to people. It was before the entire Democratic Party made “$2,000 checks” a core feature of its offering to voters, and before its candidates in Georgia started putting out ads with $2,000 checks on them. The circumstances changed, and now the demand has changed.
It’s also true that Bernie Sanders is not god, and can play ball on this if he likes, and that doesn’t change the fact that $2,000 checks were what was promised and what should be delivered.
To quote Discourse Blog many times over: JUST. GIVE. PEOPLE. THE. MONEY.