The Liberal Headfake: Yes, Biden Promised $2,000 Checks. No, We Aren't Going To Get Them
The latest in Democratic head-fake fuckery: stingy liberals and progressives alike have joined hands to short change the American public, moving the goalposts of success to $1,400 stimulus checks.
It’s been 14 days since Joe Biden took the oath of office and in that time he has signed a number of executive orders, a great number of which I support enthusiastically, from the New Start extension to his deescalations with Iran. However, from a legislative perspective, he has largely kicked the can. True to form for Joe Biden, he continues to hammer on about bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle to form a consensus. As a result, he’s sure to defeat himself without much effort from the Republican party, as has been evidenced by his latest complete abdication on checks.
If anything has been laid bare by the Biden administration’s complete failure to deliver the life support it promised to working families in need, it’s the clear priorities of the administration to come. Much of this is to be expected, as I wrote about in the last edition of the Liberal Headfake, Joe Biden was never going to legislate like FDR, it’s not who he is. What is evidenced by these “negotiations” between key Republicans and Joe Biden, is that he is perfectly willing to weaken his position and as a result the position of every American counting on him to make ends meet with government aide to “compromise” with Republican leadership.
To be clear, this negotiation can only move in one direction for the working class, downhill. What the Republicans are doing is egging President Biden to, in the name of “bipartisanship,” walk back one of the most explicit campaign promises used by the Democratic Party to propel them across the finish line in the Georgia elections, securing a simple majority in the Senate. However, in spite of this newly secured power, Joe Biden is instead opting to cede the high ground that was just fought so hard for. If the Democrats are going to gut the legislation designed to help struggling Americans in order to recruit stingy Republican Senators (who have, to the surprise of no one, gone right back to deficit hawking about the budget) why the fuck did they beg and plead for everyone’s vote in Georgia? Or anywhere else for that matter.
Taking a quick detour back to the days of the lame-duck period of Donald Trump’s presidency, 3 days before Christmas last year: That evening, then President Trump tweeted, "I'm asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple." This was one of the many displays of perfunctory populism that erupted from his now-defunct Twitter account, however never to be bested by their adversary at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, many prominent Democrats quickly clamored to call his bluff.
In a quick turnaround from her previous position on stimulus, Speaker Pelosi tweeted later that same evening that “Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks. At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!” Following Speaker Pelosi’s announcement, Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted “Let’s do it. @RashidaTlaib and I already co-wrote the COVID amendment for $2,000 checks, so it’s ready to go. Glad to see the President is willing to support our legislation. We can pass $2k checks this week if the Senate GOP agrees to stand down.”
Of course, this fell on deaf ears as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was no longer in the business of rescuing the sinking (now sunk) ship of Trump, and no such stimulus increase was added to the stimulus package. Always equipped with a strong nose for a fundraising opportunity, the Democratic Party picked up Trump’s dropped ball and ran with it to victory in the Georgia elections.
"If you send Jon and the Reverend to Washington, those $2,000 checks will go out the door, restoring hope and decency and honor for so many people who are struggling right now," Biden bellowed the night before the Georgia runoffs." And if you send (Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler) back to Washington, those checks will never get there," Biden continued. "It's just that simple. The power is literally in your hands."
To the people of Georgia, this seemed like a fair deal, and they showed up in droves to vote in not one but two Democrats in the once deep-red state. After handing the party a massive victory, voters waited in anticipation for their promised $2,000. They had held up their end of the bargain and were eager for their payout.
As is always the case with Democratic administrations, after securing their majority, Joe Biden and his staff immediately moved the goalposts on the promised stimulus checks, decreasing the direct stimulus payment amount to $1,400. Just days before his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan dubbed the American Rescue Plan was unveiled to the public, Biden himself (or his handler rather) tweeted, “$600 is simply not enough when you have to choose between paying rent or putting food on the table. We need $2,000 stimulus checks.”
Quick to defend their newly elected president, scores of American liberals emerged from their bubbles of privilege to hijack the #BidenLied and filled it with images of their pets, while others like Matt Cannon at Newsweek took to another hobby of the comfortable liberal, rewriting history by penning a story headlined “Joe Biden critics falsely claim President ‘lied’ about $2,000 stimulus checks”. Public backlash and the blatant distortion of reality presented in the headline ultimately forced Newsweek to walk it back and update the article and headline, but it is the perfect example of the kind of cognitive gymnastics at play here. One more time for the people in the back: There isn’t a single mention of $1,400 checks at any point by President Biden or any other elected Democrats before he unveiled the American Rescue Plan, it is always referred to as $2,000 checks.
Before the battle could even be truly waged to push Biden on his blatant betrayal of a promise he and many others leveraged repeatedly for political gain, even progressive Democrats began to lie down. Even Bernie Sanders, who true to form at this point, cheerleaded the scraps the Biden administration proposed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert the night after Biden shortchanged the voters with his $600 head fake. Calling it “a very good start” when he should have called it a slap in the face, and a despicable deception.
Since then Biden has continued to play footsie with the Republican party in a “will they or won’t they” fashion, and millions of Americans are getting hung out to dry. In the latest installment of the drama, Republican leadership has countered with a gutting half-measure of $1,000 in direct stimulus, which Biden doesn’t seem to be going for, and so the charade continues. In reality, the most likely outcome from my vantage point is that nothing passes from any sort of bipartisanship effort in the Senate, there just won’t be 10 votes unless the Democrats give up the whole farm and settle for even less than $1,400. Instead, I imagine, the Democrats will, after negotiating against only themselves, pass the $1.9 trillion dollar bill using budget reconciliation, and their simple 51-seat majority in the Senate, sometime in March, when they could have passed a bill with the full $2,000 intact weeks before. Hell, they could’ve passed retroactive checks for $2,000 a month, for every individual and child if they wanted, but of course, they won’t.
I guess I’ll wrap this with the words of the president, who through either geriatric attrition of the mind or run-of-the-mill corruption has seemingly forgotten them: "The debate over $2,000 isn't some abstract debate in Washington, it's about real lives. If you're like millions of Americans all across this country, you need the money, you need the help, and you need it now.” And Democrats wonder why they always fucking lose.