By Raymond Nava
President Joe Biden’s walk back on the $2,000 stimulus checks is a grave mistake. This could be seen as a betrayal to voters who supported him and his party.
Biden and congressional Democrats are set to pass a Covid-19 relief bill that includes a stimulus check of $1,400, despite a campaign promise of $2,000 checks.
In the run-up to the January 6 Georgia runoffs, Democratic senate candidates, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, campaigned on $2000 checks.
They promised voters if they were elected to the senate, and therefore giving democrats control of congress, they’d pass the legislation for extra stimulus money.
Joe Biden also adopted this promise when he campaigned for both Warnock and Ossoff. Both ended up winning their races, handing democrats control of the senate.
When Biden finally released all the details of his Covid-19 relief bill, the bill called for $1,400 checks instead of the promised $2,000. The administration defended this stating that the plan was always to add on to the $600 congress passed in December.
Biden, nor Ossoff or Warnock, ever mentioned anything about the stimulus checks merely being just added onto the $600, nor was the number “$1,400” mentioned in any of the campaign events or ads from all three democrats.
In fact, on January 1, Raphael Warnock posted a campaign ad on Twitter that not only mentioned a promise of passing a $2,000 check if he’s elected, but he also included a picture of a check with the amount of $2,000 on it.
It was only after democrats won control of the senate, Biden released his stimulus plan that explicitly said $1,400.
Biden’s flip flop on the amount of the stimulus check amount is at best poor messaging and at worst a clear bait and switch.
Putting aside the debate about whether $2,000 in general would be enough, the core issue is that this is a broken promise, and it’s a pretty big one.
To make the situation worse, in the days following the release of the plan, there was talk about how Biden was open to lowering the income threshold for the stimulus checks.
On February 3, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that the Biden administration was looking into limiting the eligibility of who got the checks. “Further targeting means not the size of the check, it means the income level of people who receive the check. That’s something that is under discussion,” said Psaki.
On February 8, Jeff Stein of The Washington Post reported that while all the details weren’t finalized, Democrats were very much looking into lowering the $75,000 income threshold to $50,000. This even further breaks Biden’s promise as if this were to happen, even if the logic of the $1,400 is added to the $600, less people would get the extra stimulus meaning they would get the $2,000 the administration says it’s giving. On February 11 however, it was reported that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was in agreement with house democrats that the income threshold should stay the same, and that Biden was also in agreement, signaling that the administration would not move forward with lowering it.
While it’s good that the Biden administration is backing down from its openness to changing the threshold, it’s still frustrating they’d said they were open to it in the first place. Why they would set themselves up for self-sabotage is mind boggling.
Biden has already broken his campaign promise when he lowered the original amount that was promised. He’d only further break that promise if they go through with the idea of lowering the stimulus.
While the final bill won’t be passed for another few weeks, Biden should stop setting his administration up for failure and just stick to his original plan.