This Friday, President Joe Biden will sign the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to bring relief to millions of Americans. Overall, the 592 pages of legislation are pretty popular with the American public. “Pew found 41% of Americans see the size of the package as about right, while 25% say it is too small. That poll also found 70% of adults support the legislation, including 41% of self-identified Republicans. The poll, conducted among 12,055 adults between March 1-7, also found that 57% of the public believes the Biden administration made a good faith effort to work with Republicans.”
Republican legislators are saying that it was not bipartisan and they are correct because you can’t negotiate with an obstructionist party. It is bipartisan with the American people.
Democrats have seemed to learn the lessons of the 2009 stimulus bill that was too small. Republicans voted in lockstep against 2009 stimulus bill. That didn’t stop them posing for a photo-op with a huge self-satisfying grin as they posed for their photo-op in front of several stimulus projects. Chris Matthews used to say that nothing elevates consumer confidence more than the noise of jackhammers tearing up the cement with a sign behind them that reads “This project is being brought to you by the 2009 stimulus bill.” Instead of the president insisting that his name is on the stimulus checks, this president and vice president will take a road trip to explain the impact of the American Rescue Plan.
President Biden will sign the legislation and although he negotiated a few issues here and there, this legislation was initiated by not only his win over Donald Trump but the hard work of Stacey Abrams, who was instrumental in the two senate wins in Georgia. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer did their part by holding the Democrats together. I’m not a big fan of Joe Manchin but he deserves credit for keeping the party from drifting too far left and killing the bill in the Senate. For example, the $15 an hour minimum wage was not something the Senate could do using reconciliation with 51 votes. The democrats didn’t have the votes to kill the filibuster and we don’t want to start overruling the parliamentarian.
Senator Ted Cruz is the loudest opponent of the American Rescue Plan is citing that only 9% of the bill is related to Covid. Those talking points are repeated by local, state, and national republicans. I challenge them to read the latest Factcheck because it states that the same elements were used in the two Covid bills that were passed while Trump was president. The only difference was the much smaller dollar amounts. For instance, the GOP alternative was a $1000 per person with the phase-out starting at $40,000 until it reached $0 at $50,000. The nation has been waiting 11- years for a GOP alternative for health care. This is the last of Covid relief because like health care the GOP doesn’t have any answers.
Republican legislators are not worried about backlash because they know Americans have short memories and can be ginned up with social issues. Republicans have 253 voting restrictive bills pending in 43 states. There is even a bill submitted by a Republican senator from Texas, that imposes the death penalty for women having an abortion. They are working at eliminating the “souls to the polls”, universal mail-in ballots, and according to a Yahoo News article dated March 9, 2021 “representatives last week passed a set of bills that would reduce weekend voting days, end automatic voter registration, limit the use of ballot drop boxes, require ID to vote by mail, and make it illegal to give out food and water to people waiting in line to vote.” They are banking on all those justices Mitch McConnell worked overtime to install.
Yes, the American Rescue Plan along with the 2 million Covid-19 vaccines-in-arms a day will alleviate the problems we are facing but much more needs to be done. Instead of focusing on Dr. Seuss, Pepe Le Pew, and the next one up, we should be working on infrastructure, comprehensive immigration reform, climate change, and other issues but I don’t see that on the horizon because one party cannot fix all of our ills.