Republicans’ Miserly Stimulus Plan Is More Band-Aid Than Economic Treatment

Here’s what their $600 billion GOP counteroffer leaves out

Sen. Susan CollinsBill Clark/Getty

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Ten Senate Republicans, led by Susan Collins of Maine, are pushing against President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal with a counteroffer less than one-third as large. The Republicans propose relief of only $600 billion, significantly less than contained in former President Barack Obama’s (famously insufficient) stimulus bill, which was meant to jolt the economy out of the Great Recession.

How Biden responds to the counterproposal is being framed by Republicans as a test of his call for “unity.” But that’s just politics. What matters more is knowing what Republican lawmakers have stripped out of the president’s original proposal:

A Minimum Wage Increase

  • Biden’s economic plan would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour—a move championed by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The wage would rise gradually, and hit the target by 2025.
  • The Republican plan does away with any increase in the federal minimum, which has been stuck at $7.25 an hour for more than a decade.

Unemployment Benefits

More details here, but Biden’s plan extends and improves unemployment benefits by:

  • Increasing the $300-per-week unemployment boost passed by Congress last month to $400
  • Extending regular unemployment and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (which applies to independent contractors, etc.). Last month, Congress extended both of these programs through mid-March. Biden’s proposal would extend them through September.

The Republican plan dials this way back. According to the Washington Post:

  • The GOP plan would keep the boost payments at $300 per week and extend them through June, according to sources with knowledge of the plan.

$1,400 Checks

The outcome of the Democrats’ internecine war over stimulus checks came down to the following: Here come your (kinda) $2,000 checks. Biden proposed sending people $1,400 in addition to $600 that was previously approved, totaling $2,000, per his public promise. His plan would means-test the recipients: People making up to $75,000, and households making $150,00, will get money.

The Republican plan would rein in the largesse. They propose $1,000 per head, but only for people earning no more than $50,000 a year, or households making up to $100,000.

This is all in the name of “targeted” relief, according to Sen. Rob Portman, who did the morning show loop.

Prepare yourself for more such rhetoric. The Republicans, debt hawks only when politically convenient, will likely continue to try and squeeze money out of this plan. The big question is whether Democrats will allow their grander aim—reducing economic inequality—to be eliminated from the bill.

Other Stuff

Biden’s plan includes billions of dollars for cash-starved state and local governments, vaccine distribution, rent assistance, a child income tax credit, and more public health jobs. The Republicans are bidding all of that adieu.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate