By spending a few hours with Republicans, he got a good quote from Collins. “It was a very good exchange of views. I wouldn’t say we came together on a package tonight. No one expected that in a two-hour meeting,” Collins said. “But what we did agree to do is follow up and talk further.” About how Republicans can come around to supporting his plan. Biden did the outreach to the Republicans that The Village Media has been clamoring for, making a show of bipartisanship, their top fetish. Not bad for a late afternoon’s work.
Meanwhile, work continues in the House and Senate to get the package passed by reconciliation. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer filed the joint budget resolution Monday to provide the legislative tool necessary to bring the reconciliation bill. “Congress has a responsibility to quickly deliver immediate comprehensive relief to the American people hurting from COVID-19,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement. “The cost of inaction is high and growing, and the time for decisive action is now. With this budget resolution, the Democratic Congress is paving the way for the landmark Biden-Harris coronavirus package that will crush the virus and deliver real relief to families and communities in need. We are hopeful that Republicans will work in a bipartisan manner to support assistance for their communities, but the American people cannot afford any more delays and the Congress must act to prevent more needless suffering.”
A comparison of Biden’s and the Republicans’ packages show just how far short the McConnell feint delivered by Collins truly is. Biden calls for a total of $1.9 trillion. The Republicans think less than a third of that is necessary, $600 billion. Biden wants $1,400 survival checks for people earning less than $75,000 in 2018, the Republicans $1,000 for people earning less than $50,000, but phasing out starting at $40,000. This is the weakest part of Biden’s plan. The checks should be $2,000 and they should go to everyone. Because a lot of people who made $75,000 in 2019 probably did not see that level of income in 2020.
Biden has $350 billion for state and local governments to save public-sector jobs. The Republicans have none. Biden has $170 billion for education, Republican have $20 billion. Biden has a minimum wage increase to $15/hour. Republicans have nothing. Biden has $40 billion for childcare assistance divided up among emergency funding across the board and to a longstanding block grant program. The Republicans have $20 billion for the block grant. Biden increases the weekly unemployment insurance benefits by $400 through September, and ties the phaseout to economic improvement in states. Republicans give $300 extra a week in UI with a hard deadline of June 30.
Biden truly did learn the lesson of 2009, when the Obama administration he was a part of did not respond adequately to the Great Recession, the last mess Republicans left for Democrats to clean up. He’s not going to make that mistake again. He’s also not going to make the mistake of accepting convention wisdom in D.C. that “bipartisanship” and “unity” means Democrats spending months wooing supposedly moderate Republicans, and then ultimately capitulating to them.