Democrats Don’t Want To Give Americans Checks During Coronavirus Crisis, Want Expanded Unemployment Benefits Instead
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters before a meeting with a select group of Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats, and Trump administration officials in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 20, 2020 in Washington, DC.
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President Donald Trump and Republicans want to give Americans who earned below a certain income in 2018 (the most recent year full tax data were available) two checks over the next couple of months – each for about $1,200 depending on certain criteria.

Democrats, however, do not agree with this type of stimulus (remember, in 2009 they cheered a stimulus that put millions of dollars in the pockets of their donors and friends, instead of middle-class Americans). Instead, Democrats want to massively expand unemployment benefits, The Hill reported.

“Senate GOP negotiators argue that $1,200 direct payments to individuals are the best way to get money flowing through the economy quickly, while Democrats say disbursing cash benefits so broadly doesn’t do enough for low-income Americans and people who lose their jobs,” the outlet reported.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took to the Senate floor on Friday to argue for expanded unemployment benefits instead of the stimulus checks, since the checks will go to people based on income – including to those who have not missed work due to the coronavirus quarantines.

“There are many, many who have lost their jobs and one check when they may be out of their jobs for three, four, five months isn’t going to be enough. Unemployment insurance gives money the whole period of time the crisis exists at your present salary level and covers just about everyone,” Schumer said.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) agreed with Schumer.

“In the Republican package there was nothing on unemployment insurance,” Stabenow said. “We are not in any way seeing yet the focus enough on workers, on the workforce, on people getting hit the hardest.”

Stabenow also, according to The Hill, said the Republican plan to provide more health care resources was not “robust” enough, claiming many of the 43 provisions related to healthcare were merely “stop-gap” solutions.

She claimed Republicans in an initial discussion suggested giving stimulus checks at amounts related to income.

“I couldn’t believe that they were talking about lowest income people getting $600 and somebody making $75,000 getting twice as much as that, $1,200,” she said. “Those numbers don’t make any sense.”

The bill Republicans introduced includes no such provision, and would provide two rebate checks of $1,200 to those making less than $75,000 in 2018. The amount in the checks would begin to phase out at incomes above 75,000 for individuals and married couples who earned more than $150,000. Those who earned almost no income taxes but earned at least $2,500 in 2018 would receive a rebate check for $600, The Hill reported.

“One-time payments are not what people need. What people need is a paycheck. They need ongoing income until this is done. That’s what they need,” Stabenow added.

The Republican plan provides two payments. Republicans also say the checks would get the money to Americans who need it faster than unemployment benefits.

Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), also suggested unemployment benefits were more beneficial.

“I’d rather take that $250 billion and put it in a system that will give people sustainable income,” Graham told reporters on Thursday. “Direct payments make sense when the economy is beginning to restart, makes no sense now because it’s just money.”

“What I want is income, not one check. I want you to get a check you can count on every week, not one week,” he added. “Here’s what I’m focused on: You have unemployment insurance that is totally inadequate, let’s beef it up.”

“Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia told Democratic senators Friday morning there are a variety of technical challenges to ramping up unemployment benefits as sharply as Democrats are advocating,” The Hill reported.

Eric Ueland, White House legislative affairs director, told reporters that the unemployment system was not designed “to take such a sharp, short, significant shock of incredible increase in unemployment that’s going occur here so swiftly.”

He added that “there are some technical challenges with the unemployment insurance system” and that Republicans were “working very hard” to make sure the rebate checks go “out as quickly as possible.”