Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is digging in his heels in opposing the boost in individual stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000. McConnell believes that too much money would be going to people who don’t need it, calling the plan “socialism for the rich.” “Borrowing from our grandkids to do socialism for rich people is a terrible way to get help to families who actually need it,” McConnell said of an effort to boost the checks from $600 to $2,000, which is supported by Donald Trump.
This elicited a harsh response from Vermont’s resident socialist curmudgeon Senator Bernie Sanders. “The majority leader helped lead this body to pass Trump’s tax bill. You want to talk about socialism for the rich Mr. Majority Leader?!” Tax cuts are the same as “socialism”? We’ll have to remember that.
Democrats and some Republicans want a “stand-alone” bill — an up or down vote on the stimulus checks. They aren’t going to get it. Any additional stimulus now awaits the presidency of Joe Biden and the outcome of the Georgia runoff elections.
Led by McConnell, many Republicans say themeasure the House approved earlier this weekdelivers too much aid to six-figure earners. The House’s bill would send checks to higher earners more than the two previous rounds of direct payments, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
“Imagine a family of five where the parents earn $250,000 per year and have not seen any income loss this past year. Speaker Pelosi and Senator Sanders want to send them $5,000 from Uncle Sam,” McConnell said.
There’s no doubt that some of that money would be going to people who really don’t need it. But most of it would go to people who are really hurting. Besides the need, there is the rationale that disbursing money now will keep the locked-down economy from sliding deeper toward recession. Some Republicans may not mind seeing a recession in Joe Biden’s first months, but does anyone seriously believe that the media would allow one breath of a suggestion any economic downturn was the fault of anyone but Donald Trump?
McConnell is preparing the ground for the coming battles on spending during 2021. Republicans will become born again spendthrifts, having once again discovered they’re supposed to be the party of fiscal prudence and accountability. He is staking out positions now so that later when Democrats get radically serious about emptying the treasury, he will fight on ground of his own choosing.
The Majority Leader doesn’t think the measure has a prayer in the Senate.
On Wednesday, after Trump again insisted upon “$2000 ASAP!” in a tweet, McConnell said the proposal had “no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate” and refused to split the White House’s legislative wish list into separate measures. But that was exactly what Graham pressed the Republican leader to do on Thursday.
“Here’s what I’d like: I’d like a stand-alone vote in the new Congress on the $2,000 check,” Graham said. “We have seven Republicans who’ve already said they would vote for it. We need five more. I think if we had the vote, we would get there.”
McConnell can count noses as well as anyone and he knows the votes aren’t there. If he could sweeten the bill to draw in a few more Republican Senators, there would be Democratic objections, making the bill dead in the water. Even if he supported the measure, there’s just no way to get there from here.
For Democrats and those Republicans who think a larger stimulus is needed, it’s “wait till next year.”