Public support for Biden's COVID rescue package is pretty overwhelming. Polls show that even Republican voters want to see it pass-- and quickly. In fact, Americans are more concerned that government will not spend enough than are concerned that government will spend too much. 64% of respondents think the government should do more; only 36% agree with the GOP position that government should do less. 39% of self-described Republican voters agree with Democrats (87%) and independents (64%) that the government needs to do more.
Centrist Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) told Politico today that "This is one of those rare instances-- maybe not exceedingly rare, but it doesn’t happen often-- where the best policy perfectly aligns with the politics. If I’m a candidate in 2022 running for the House or Senate, I think I’d want to be able to say we’ve had a robust Covid-19 relief bill, we raised the minimum wage, we made progress on health care, we’ve started to make progress on combating climate change and a whole range of issues candidates would want to run on."
Republicans have no serious proposal to deal with any of this and the Democrats aren't going to dick around with them the way they did over Obamacare and the big Obama rescue package, both of which conservatives cut to ribbons and made less effective-- leading to a Democratic bloodbath in 2010.
One of the outstanding progressives running for Senate in 2022 is North Carolina state Senator Erica Smith. This morning, she told me that "The government cannot intervene exclusively when its Wall Street at risk and then leave working people to fend for themselves. We have an opportunity not just to undo the damage of the past year, but to undo the damage of the past decades in which profits have been prioritized over people and corporations have been prioritized over workers." Believe me, you're not going to hear that kind of support for Biden's agenda from any of the clowns the GOP has lined up to compete for the open Burr seat-- from defeated ex-Governor Pat McCrory and former congressmen Mark Walker and Tedd Budd to infotainment Trumpist candidates Lara Trump and Mad Cawthorn, all of whom are on the wrong side of the argument.
Most congressional Republicans are just against everything and anything; it's their nature. Susan Collins lead about a dozen conservative Republicans on a quest to cut Biden's plan down from $1.9 trillion to $0.6 trillion, a non-serious non-starter. So the Democrats will go alone with their 50 votes + Kamala Harris and pass the bill through budget reconciliation while Republicans whine on these sidelines and make themselves into "victims," always their favorite posture.
"President Biden," said Long Island Democratic congressman Tom Suozzi today, "has the rare combination of know the policy, the politics and the people.This COVID relief package is filled with good policy. The President will marshall the political arguments as to why elected officials, including Republicans, should support it and why not supporting It will come at a cost. Additionally, he has the relationships and knows the people that trust him and he can reach out to make the final argument. Recklessly opposing this plan without offering a reasonable compromise is not only wrong morally, it will come at a political cost to those that oppose it."
Chris Cadelago and Natasha Korecki reported that "there’s talk about midterm attack ads portraying Republicans as willing to slash taxes for the wealthy but too stingy to cut checks for people struggling during the deadly pandemic. And President Joe Biden’s aides and allies are vowing not to make the same mistakes as previous administrations going into the midterms elections. They are pulling together plans to ensure Americans know about every dollar delivered and job kept because of the bill they’re crafting. And there is confidence that the Covid-19 relief package will ultimately emerge not as a liability for Democrats, but as an election year battering ram."
Biden and advisers insist they would prefer Republican cooperation on the $1.9 trillion legislation, which calls for direct checks, money for school reopenings and funds for a robust vaccine effort. But their eyes have also started to drift toward what comes after the package becomes law: a major political undertaking to cement the bill’s popularity among voters.
The effort will include a giant outreach effort touting the package’s benefits as well as pledges from the Democratic House and Senate campaign arms to promote it in their own messaging. The Democratic National Committee, working with state parties across battlegrounds, is mobilizing to highlight Biden’s legislation as helping to save lives and create jobs, which officials expect to ramp up in the coming months.
White House officials are sorely aware of past administrations’ track records in their first midterms and view the Covid relief measure as foundational in a two-year battle that will determine the fate of Democrats’ slim majorities, as well as the other elements of Biden’s ambitious agenda on Capitol Hill.
A raft of public polls has bolstered the belief inside the White House that they have a mandate to act and that those who oppose the package will struggle to justify their stances come November 2022.
“It’s going to be very difficult for Republican lawmakers to look their constituents in the eyes and try to explain why they voted against giving them $1,400 checks, why they voted against reopening schools, and why they voted against speeding up vaccinations,” a White House official told Politico. “We’re going to keep making the case about why this package matters and Republicans on the Hill are going to have to decide whether or not they’re going to listen to their voters.”
A close White House ally went further, accusing Republicans of acting hypocritically while noting that under former President Donald Trump, the GOP expressed few concerns about spending and the federal deficit when they passed tax cuts and then approved trillions of dollars in Covid relief over the last year.
“Members who stand for killing jobs in the worst downturn since the Great Depression will be at great risk of losing their own,” the person added.
This morning Chicagoland freshman Marie Newman told her constituents that she wants to make sure that they understand her mindset "as we continue negotiations on the next rounds of COVID-19 relief legislation in Washington. The way I see it, if you're not showing up ready to get immediate and substantial relief to everyday workers and families who have been to hell and back over the last year-- then you don’t deserve a seat at the table. I’m not here to argue about whether we can afford funding for our schools and our hospitals with members of a party that happily helped President Trump blow up our nation’s deficit to fund his wall and his tax giveaway to corporations and billionaires. I’m here to demand what’s fair for Americans who have been waiting for months for Congress to get its act together. I won’t stop until we’ve gotten people what they need to hold on during these unprecedented times. That means fighting to:
increase the minimum wage to $15
ensure that the unemployed and uninsured get the health care they have a right to
boost funding for state and local governments
send $2K relief checks every month
expand relief benefits to our immigrant brothers and sisters
I know that when all this is through, we can work together to build a nation and an economy that truly works for all."
When I spoke with her this afternoon, she added "Look, the American people are asking us to invest in them. It is the American people’s money, not the Republicans’ money. As Democrats, we are going to deliver a robust relief package and partner with the American people to bring health and prosperity back for all, equitably."