News & Politics

Please Raise Your Hand if You Don't Want a $1400 Check From the Government

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Is there anyone in the United States eligible for the $1400 individual payment from the IRS that will be voted on in the House this week that will turn down the money?

There are a few curmudgeons like me who think we’ve already spent too much on COVID relief but turning down a great, big fat check from the government? Tax-free? Not me.

In truth, Biden is betting that no American in their right mind would turn down free money from the government. From where I sit, it looks like a pretty good bet.


In this first glimpse of Biden’s presidential salesmanship, he has not been shy about calling out Republicans who are wary of supporting his American Rescue Plan, despite its popularity — urging them to offer their ideas for potential compromise. On Friday, at a Pfizer plant in Michigan manufacturing vaccines, he made an impassioned case for the bill while pushing back on Republican critics who have said it is too big and too expensive.

“Let me ask them: What would they have me cut? What would they have me leave out?” Biden asked. “Should we not invest $20 billion to vaccinate the nation? Should we not invest $290 (billion) to extend unemployment insurance for the 11 million Americans who are unemployed so they can get by while they get back to work? Should we not invest $50 billion to help small businesses stay open, when tens of thousands have had to close permanently? … Should we not invest $130 (billion) to help schools across the nation open safely?”

Does it really cost $20 billion to vaccinate the nation? Do we have to give unemployed people an extra $400 a week to live? Why not $200 more a week? Why $130 billion to reopen the schools?

And the biggest question: could we get by if we spend less?

Republicans aren’t really opposed to where the money is going. They want to know how much of the $1.9 trillion is vitally necessary to get the nation back on its feet. They suspect, as do many of us, that there there are a lot of payoffs to Biden supporters in that package that have nothing to do with jumpstarting the economy or giving relief to families and everything to do with rewarding his loyal subjects.

But Biden’s “unity” plea is all for show. It evaporates the minute that Republicans challenge any of his spending. Every dime of that $1.9 trillion is needed and not a penny less, right Joe?

Does that include the increase in the minimum wage, Mr. President?

One of the most controversial provisions is the phased increase of the $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. Moderate Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia have already signaled their opposition to that provision — and with the Senate divided 50-50, Biden cannot afford to lose a single member in his caucus. The Senate parliamentarian also must review whether the minimum wage hike would have a direct impact on the federal budget — allowing it to be considered as part of the process known as reconciliationthat could enable Democrats to pass the legislation on a party-line vote.

The Senate will grouse and grumble about the cost and pray that the parliamentarian is a conservative who will save them the trouble of excising the $15-an-hour minimum wage increase from the bill. But after a while, they’ll pass the “American Rescue Plan” with plenty of votes to spare because of that $1400 check that will show up in tens of millions of American mailboxes or deposited into their bank accounts. Americans now expect it and are depending on it.

We are a nation with 300 million hands outstretched and demanding the government give them something. It’s not a good or bad thing. It’s reality.

And we’d better get used to it.

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