Like Kevin McCarthy and the rest of the congressional Republicans, Larry Summers came out against $2,000 survival checks yesterday. Unlike them, though, he also opposes $600 checks. I was flabbergasted at the sheer televised stupidity. As Alan Grayson noted after he watched the clip, "It’s funny how everyone who’s against a $2000 check doesn’t need a $2000 check." Wisconsin state Senator Chris Larson just rolled his eyes and said "Sounds like an impersonation of Scrooge. What planet is this guy living on?" I asked Stephanie Kelton for her read on what Summers was babbling about. She sent me a picture of a clown.
"Larry Summers is out of his mind," Ted Lieu told me right after the TV appearance. "The United States is in a recession and he thinks some one-time stimulus checks will result in overheating our economy? Ridiculous. His misunderstanding of the economy in the Obama Administration is one reason we have Donald Trump. The stimulus package under Obama was far too small and much of the country still had not recovered fully by 2016. Mr. Summers should also get out of his elite, ivory tower mindset and talk to Americans who are about to be evicted, need to go to food banks because they are running out of food, and don't have the means to pay their utility bills. $2000 checks to them would be the difference between homelessness and a roof over their heads; having electricity; and being able to eat."
Eloise Reyes is the new majority leader of the California Assembly. She wasn't thrilled with Summers' analysis either and told me that his "comments about the $600 stimulus check to the American people reflect the callousness of many decision-makers. His comments about a potential increase to $2,000 are a reminder that some policy makers are keen on keeping people poor, begging for a fraction of what is given to the corporate billionaires. He argues that there’s no benefit to giving the money to people because they 'can’t take a trip' and can’t go out to dinner because of the pandemic. He believes giving the American people $2,000 each would 'risk a temporary overheat.' Is he serious?! Receiving $2,000 after 9 months of a pandemic and economic recession could help heat the house, pay rent for that house and put food on the table. What world is he living in? Our people have paid their share of taxes, unlike others who have the luxury of every loophole. Some have had successful small businesses that provided employment for their neighbors. Many have never before found themselves wondering how they will make ends meet. We’re asking people to stay home to help us get through this pandemic. They are our partners if we are to succeed. And now, the least we can do is treat them like partners and send each one a check. We shouldn’t leave them out in the cold. The stimulus check could temporarily heat up the house-- no debate necessary here."
Not a lot of California fans of Mr. Summers. Nanette Barrangan represents a lot of hard-pressed working families and Summers didn't amuse her at all. "Larry Summers is completely disconnected from the reality of people across this country who are struggling to pay their rent and bills, put food on the table, and buy medicine. This $2,000 isn’t about trying to expand the economy, this extra money is about survival for so many. Tell him to come to my district and ask whether or not people need that money. What a poor take from someone who has always been about the policies that are good for the wealthy and not those that would uplift the poor and working class."
Colin Byrd is mayor of Greenbelt, Maryland in the heart of the district Steny Hoyer represents. Colin's going to run a primary race in 2022 for this seat. I asked him what he thought of Summers' little presentation. He was enthusiastic about one thing: "I agree with him on increasing funding for state and local governments, testing, and accelerating vaccines, but his emphasis on expansion neglects the fact that economic growth does not necessarily mean that poor people and unemployed people are doing better. He also shouldn't be so squarely focused on 'expansion' and 'GDP.' While it is technically possible that 'expansion' and 'GDP' may indicate that the economy is getting better across the board, positive trends on such variables can also just mean the rich are getting richer. Moreover, while consumer spending may be, in some ways, limited by restrictions, for example, on flights and restaurant closures, those types of things are not the only or even the main things that Americans need to spend money on. At the most basic level, many Americans would use stimulus money on groceries, rent, mortgage payments, clothing, and forms of transportation other than 'flights.' Moreover, people who are out of work-- of which there are many, due to the pandemic-- can use the stimulus checks to help replenish their savings, which have likely had to be drawn down on in unexpected ways. Finally, while Josh Hawley, Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders are indeed an odd alliance, the notion that politicians of different political parties and ideologies agreeing on an issue is necessarily a bad thing is extremely absurd. That is reflexive, thoughtless partisanship that distracts from the substance of the issue on which they have found consensus."
Thank God, Biden pledged not to bring this out-of-touch sociopath into his administration! That's all we'd need after 4 years of Trump!