Is Pelosi right to call the $916B WH offer unacceptable?


Fact Box

  • As of December 9, there have been 15.6 million coronavirus cases in the United States, with 295,125 reported deaths. 
  • For the first wave of stimulus checks, individual taxpayers received $1,200 each if their income was less than $75,000. Married couples received $2,400 if they earned less than $150,000. 
  • Nancy Pelosi was previously pushing for a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill for weeks while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was stuck on $500 billion. 
  • Early December, a new bipartisan $908 billion stimulus had been announced that included $300 weekly benefits, $160 billion in state and local aid, $288 billion for small businesses, $45 billion for transportation, $25 billion for rental assistance, and $35 billion for healthcare providers. 
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin proposed a $916 billion stimulus in response. Pelosi deemed the offer “unacceptable”as it would cut unemployment insurance by $140 billion.

Kevin (Yes)

Some economists reportedly 'don't know' if we need more stimulus; however, as the hosts of Rising point out, not only is the stimulus needed, but giving it directly to citizens would have a more substantial effect on the economy, as it would be spent by those who need it to pay bills. The new stimulus proposal of $916 billion apparently includes only a one-time $600 payment for Americans at a time when food banks are facing so much demand that 'they are resorting to rationing.' Although the new proposal includes things both sides of Congress were pushing for--financial aid to local and state governments for Democrats, and corporate liability protections for Republicans--the lack of direct aid to individuals means it would unlikely have the intended effect on the economy that we might hope for. As reported by CNN, 'millions of Americans have been out of work for months.' And there were already reports at the end of the summer that tens of millions of people were facing possible eviction--a situation that would neither help curb the spread of the virus nor bolster the economy. It is also worth noting that 60% of business closures are now reportedly permanent, suggesting that unemployment support alone may not be enough.

Not to say that the US is comparable to other nations in all respects, but a look at the countries who have fared the best in the pandemic shows that one key difference is the economic response toward citizens. So, yes, Pelosi is right that the proposal is unacceptable. 

Bill (No)

Pelosi is wrong to call the WH stimulus offer unacceptable. In fact, the plan unveiled by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is larger (by $9 billion) than the bipartisan one that it replaces. It's important to remember that any additional spending will add to our national debt that future generations will be burdened with paying. 

A stimulus plan should focus on measures that support our ability to increase the production of goods and services. Instead, the Democrats favor keeping Americans out of work and dependent on government checks to pay their bills. Specifically, they support extending the supplementary unemployment benefit (i.e., an additional $300 per week over and above the standard weekly amount). The WH plan replaces enhanced unemployment benefits with one-time stimulus checks amounting to $600 per person. Pelosi and Schumer said they could not support the WH plan's reduction in unemployment benefits.

Republicans want to ensure that any stimulus plan protects employers from lawsuits arising from coronavirus cases--unless gross negligence or willful misconduct was involved. Typically, a major impediment to a legislative agreement on stimulus packages is the state and local government aid proposed. Republicans are traditionally against steering large sums to the public sector, which they perceive as wasteful and designed to bail out Democrat-controlled states. However, Mnuchin's plan includes $160 billion in state aid.  

Pelosi should focus on the areas of agreement in the WH stimulus plan (of which there appear to be many). By rejecting the WH proposal out of hand, she risks looking petty and obstinate at the expense of voters affected by the economic damage wrought by the COVID lockdown measures--largely enacted by blue state governors.

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