Biden, Republican Senators Quibble Over Whether To Spend Billions or Trillions

The president has proposed spending $1.9 trillion on another pandemic relief bill. Moderate GOP senators are countering with a $600 billion plan of their own.


It's been a little over a month since Congress passed a $900 billion pandemic relief bill that extended federal unemployment benefits, provided another round of loans to small businesses, and sent stimulus checks to most Americans. Now lawmakers have turned to other pressing issues, such as debating another relief bill that will extend unemployment benefits, provide another round of loans to small businesses, and send stimulus checks to most Americans.

On Monday, 10 Republican Senators—among them Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah—previewed a $618 billion stimulus bill before a scheduled meeting today with President Joe Biden, who is pushing for an even larger $1.9 trillion relief package.

"Mr. President, we recognize your calls for unity and want to work in good faith with your Administration to meet the health, economic, and societal challenges of the COVID crisis," the senators said in a joint statement, according to The Hill.

If a sizable portion of senate Republicans are willing to go along with yet another relief package so soon, that doesn't bode well for fiscal restraint under Biden, says Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute.

"To restrain the big-government policies of Biden and the Democrats in the next two years, Republicans need to stick together," Edwards tells Reason. Even if Congress approves no new COVID-19 spending, he notes, the deficit this year will hit $2.6 trillion.

Both of the proposals would spend an additional $160 billion responding directly to the pandemic, including more money for vaccinations and expanded testing and contact tracing. The relief bill approved by Congress in late December dedicated $30 billion for vaccine procurement and rollout, plus another $23 billion for testing and contact tracing.

Where the two bills diverge is in how much they'd spend dealing with the fiscal and economic fallout from the pandemic and from related restrictions on economic activity.

Those 10 Republican senators want to spend another $130 billion extending unemployment benefits at their current levels through the end of June. Biden's proposal would boost that weekly benefit to $400 and extend it through the end of September. (December's relief bill provided an additional $300 weekly unemployment subsidy to jobless workers through March 14 at a reported cost of $120 billion.)

Both proposals would also provide Americans with another round of relief checks. The compromise Republican version would provide $1,000 to each individual making up to $40,000 a year, plus $500 per child or adult dependent. That $1,000 would taper off for those making more than $40,000. Individuals making $50,000 or more would get nothing.

The Democratic proposal would provide another $1,400 round of stimulus checks to those making up to $75,000. Congressional Democrats (and then-President Donald Trump) called for including $2,000 payments in December's relief bill but ultimately settled for $600.

Both the 10 Republican senators and Biden would provide another $50 billion in aid to small businesses. Republicans would give K–12 schools $20 billion to assist with reopening; Biden would shower them with $170 billion. The president's plan also tacks on expanded child tax credits, a $15 federal minimum wage, and $30 billion in rental aid.

It's a sad state of affairs for small-government types when the moderate position on COVID relief—already being reamed by liberal commentators as heartlessly stingy—is to spend an additional $600 billion on top of last year's unprecedented increase in federal spending.

According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Congress has already spent or approved $4 trillion on the pandemic—and that doesn't count around $7.3 trillion in economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve. During the Great Recession, by contrast, congressional spending rose by a mere $1 trillion.

Some aspects of Biden's plan are so expensive that they're provoking opposition within his own administration. Bloomberg reports that two of his top economic advisors, Heather Boushey and David Kamin, have privately expressed criticism about the size of the checks included in the president's plan.

So much for hopes that an evenly divided Senate might act as a check on profligate spending. Instead, the administration and certain congressional Republicans seem to be playing a game of reverse limbo: How high can go you?

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  1. If I was the governer of a blue state i would get rid of all state taxes. If all you have to do is wait for a dem president to bail you out why would you care?

    1. Get rid of state taxes and throw bennies at corporations to relocate. Why be conservative when you’re gambling with someone else’s money?

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    2. If I was the governer of a blue state i would get rid of all state taxes

      This is why you’ll never be the governor of a blue state. Letting working people keep more of their money? Outrageous!

      And fuck Phil Murphy.

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      2. But the ‘plan’ wasn’t ever to let people keep what they labor for (i.e. set the slaves free) it was just to make it NATIONAL instead of minor fee’s of the State!

        If the U.S. Constitution had even a 50% standing everyone’s federal tax would be very minuscule in comparison to State Tax. All it’s there for is National defense against foreign invasion. Ironically that foreign invasion showed up in the form of Democratic National Socialism

      3. Nah, the racket is to make them think they are keeping their money.

    3. Nobody taxes my personal income, regardless of whom they claim to work for, because I don’t allow it and have not in over twenty years. I wonder when Americans will wake up and recognize that taxation on personal livelihoods is precisely fascism and is precisely the reason what passes for governance in this subjugated nation is so ineffective and opportunistic. All the ‘income tax’ apparatus is for is to pose the American people and their bovine obedience to bureaucratic terrorism as collateral for foreign creditors to continue increasing lines of credit which will never be paid off. It has nothing to do with ‘revenue’ and never has: it is a program to force continuous obedience to a regime based on nothing but fear while the regime continues to build personal dossiers on every citizen of information they submit to it themselves. It is a national embarrassment and a mockery of liberty itself, that anyone is weak and compliant enough to collaborate with it.

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    5. If you got rid of the taxes, how would you buy support by “giving away” tax breaks? Blue politicians never cut the basic tax rates, because their ultimate goal is 110% income tax with thousands of loopholes, deductions, and credits, and everyone has to come begging to keep some of the money they earned, or even to not get fined for creating wealth. That’s real power, and it’s want nearly all politicians want.

      Red politicians are envious watching this, and look for ways to similarly enhance their own power without their voters noticing.

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  2. “It’s a sad state of affairs for small-government types when the moderate position on COVID relief—already being reamed by liberal commentators as heartlessly stingy—is to spend an additional $600 billion on top of last year’s unprecedented increase in federal spending.”

    Well… call me a partisan hack, but it seems like $1.9 trillion of debt-fueled federal spending is many much more badder than $600 billion. Instead of lumping the two together, maybe small-government types would be better served to unequivocally condemn the 13-figure plan. Hell, you don’t even have to bring up political parties at all.

  3. Fucking hypcritical Republicans and their on-again-off-again support of spending. If only those rubes could learn to vote for the right guy.

    1. And there’s hardly any difference between 600 billion and 1.9 trillion anyway, when using the new and progressive math.

      1. They’re unprincipled hacks for not sacrificing their seat at the table, now and probably forever, for $600B. Only a principled libertarian like Justin Amash, Gary Johnson, or Jo Jorgensen can cut spending in any meaningful way.

  4. The old game continues. They pretend to be at each others’ throats then get together for drinks and laugh at us.

    1. Trying to spend 1.3 trillion dollars less, isn’t exactly a minor difference.

      1. Tell you what, they can split the difference and give me the rest . . .

        Oh, wait, I haven’t been elected yet. What’s the waiting list look like for official graft? Can we translate that to the covid vaccine priority scale?

  5. Since Reason campaigned for Biden, one can only assume Reason editors and writers support Biden’s plan to spend/waste trillions of dollars, and oppose GOP plans to just spend/waste billions.

    1. Reason is afraid of the censorship and de-platforming going on, so has decide to comply with the left rather than stand against them. it is about their paycheck as you lose yours.

  6. It’s just numbers at this point.

    1. It’s not real money.

      1. Yup, which is why the price of everything is going up.

      2. Yes it is. It is your savings. There is no one buying trillions in debt, other than the Fed. So you have the government owing the government, that will never get paid back, but those extra trillions will reduce your purchasing power. Inflation is a hidden tax. it is theft, it is redistribution of income. I heard each trillion will cost the average family $8000. Enjoy your $600 bucks.

  7. “It’s a sad state of affairs for small-government types when the moderate position on COVID relief—already being reamed by liberal commentators as heartlessly stingy—is to spend an additional $600 billion on top of last year’s unprecedented increase in federal spending.”

    Just ignore that Overton window moving West at supersonic speeds.

  8. I was promised $1,400 for my voter, and I damn well want delivered.
    But I have to admit, the trial of a private citizen should take priority, because of the color of his skin.

  9. Quibbling is good in government. Enough of it and they get nothing done.

    “You can’t give the government the power to do good without also giving it the power to do bad – in fact, to do anything it wants.”
    ~ Harry Browne

  10. neither team is on your side.

    1. Speaking of teams, you been watching the Cats at all? Or are you not really into masochism?

      1. hopes were high they could give A&M a game

        my mother despises the lavender unis (“they wouldn’t have worn those girlie shirts in MY day”) but I totally want one.

        1. Ha, the lavenders are awesome, a throwback to the Jack Hartman era. I wish they could do the original two-tone with the dark purple shorts.

          They disgraced the lavenders, and Hartman, with that performance. I’ve always liked Weber, but man I hope the guy hangs it up and retires this year. Big 12 Champions to laughing stock in two years time.

            1. I still own that SI.

          1. my pops says they’re just freshman and I should shut up. I said next freshman class should include guys who have at least *seen* a basketball

            1. Ha, that’s funny. I actually think there’s some promising raw talent on the team. I just don’t have faith that Bruce is going to get em there.

              Problem is, who’s available to take over, and how can you get em with the current budget situation anyway. Might take a while to claw out of the hole we’re in.

  11. Our entire government is a fake theater playing black and white films about situations nobody any longer comprehends while promising everybody a free seat and popcorn and they get away with it by repeatedly increasing the digits on the maximum occupancy signs hanging over the fire exits.

    “Shhhhh ….. please remember to silence your phones and eat your fucking mask.”

  12. also, for today’s Trolling of the Middle Class:

    Melissa Hodgman.

  13. Bah.

    Real politicians spend jibazillions.

    And flush at least half down the toilet.

    1. And by toilet you mean their portfolios.

  14. Oh thank god the Republicans have come to their senses and finally realize that spending is wrong.

    This bill is going to happen. Republicans know that at least some of the money is needed. As do most business groups. The problem is not that we are spending now. The problem is that when the economy was good the Republicans, in charge at the time, spent money like it was no problem. That was the time to cut spending.

    1. Let me ask you something, Mendacious4ever:
      I seem to recall Trump and the Republicans kicking enourmous house spending bills back to Pelosi until they were seriously reduced, many times last year. If I remember rightly one of these instances even occurred over the election.
      Was that just a figment of my imagination?

      1. Your imagination forgot that Trump and the Republicans were handed a good economy by the Obama Administration and that they had two years to hold the line on spending. But they wanted a tax cut so they borrowed money. They wanted things so they borrowed money. Trump wanted a wall and when Congress said no he just took the money.

        1. A growth rate less than the growth of baseline budgeting with projections to skyrocket in 2020 by every economic model due to rising costs of entitlements. Not good. 2% growth with Obama calling it the new normal lol. Obama himself didn’t think it was a good economy. The irony is about a quarter to a third of the economic growth under Obama was from energy primarily on state and private lands due to restrictions on federal leases.

          So di you believe what you wrote or just an idiot?

          1. An idiot.

          2. He’s a liar and an idiot.

    2. Can you remind me what the democeat votes on the budget and appropriations bills were again?

      1. M4E is an idiot.

      2. My comments were addressed to Republicans. If your party stands by lower debt then it should stand for it all the time not just when you are in the minority.

        1. Okay. But can you answer the question.

        2. I mean… are you even aware what the House does?

          Because you seem pretty ignorant.

          1. I am well aware that spending bills must originate in the House, but in the course of a bill passing both the Senate and the President have rolls. Are you aware that the Senate must also pass the bill and that it must be signed by the President? Because if not you might check School House Rock to learn how a bill becomes a law.

        3. Maybe 2019 democrats wanted less than the gop?


          So what is your real issue here? That the party who spends less still spent less than the democrats? They still had a deficit, but don’t fucking pretend the democrats were calling for smaller deficits. The only thing they ever asked for was to raise taxes to spend more.

  15. Today in libertarian news and commentary.

    Early last week, Ursula von der Leyen took ‘personal charge’ of the EU’s vaccine programme. It was an eventful week, to say the least. Within days, she had achieved the rare feat of uniting the entire British Isles against her – Remainers and Leavers in the UK, Unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland, alongside the British and Irish governments – after nearly imposing a hard border on the island of Ireland. Her decision to impose export controls on vaccines leaving the EU has drawn global condemnation, angering allies like Japan and Canada. Some have argued that the EU’s reputation will be damaged long-term, in the eyes of businesses and manufacturers, too.

  16. Like living in the Soviet Union except since all nations are now regressing into inefficient governance, their is no “west” to measure benchmark against. For example, if we didn’t have private space launch companies, most people wouldn’t realize just how backward NASA has been and is compared to SpaceX, who am I kidding most people are still clueless even with the internet to research with.

  17. Maybe they’ll compromise and spend 2.5 trillion.

    1. And be pissed it wasn’t 2.6 trillion.

  18. And the $15.00 minimum wage has to go through so small businesses go under and leave only Amazon, etc. The Washington Post (Owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon) ran a full page ad in the Sunday paper, (paid for by Amazon) demanding the $15.00 minimum wage. No collusion here at all.

    1. So you believe that workers should live poverty level wages in order to prop up business owners?

      1. Weren’t you the one that said individuals are responsible for their own choices?

        1. You mean “Freedom of Contract”? Workers are not in a position to negotiate and thus don’t have a choice.

          1. Lol. Just because you are an idiot with no skills doesn’t mean everyone is. God damn.

            1. So you think that idiots with no skills deserve to live in poverty, even if they work a full time job?

              1. Idiots with no skills will always be the poorest people in any given society. There is literally nothing you can do to change that.

                1. True, but you can ensure that they have lease have a living standard where their basic needs are met, especially if they are working.

                  1. That’s what welfare payments are for. If society wants to help the needy, then society should help the needy – not employers

                    1. No. Businesses that use the time and efforts of a person need to pay a living wage. It is not the job of the public to subsidize private businesses that want to underpay their workers.

                    2. Also the same people who oppose the minimum wage also oppose welfare, or any assistance to the poor.

                    3. Agree with MollyG that the government should not be providing a subsidized workforce.

                    4. “Businesses that use the time and efforts of a person need to pay a living wage.”

                      And what happens to those whose efforts are not worth a living wage? Your plan is permanent unemployment for those who didn’t pay attention in school or were incapable of learning the more challenging concepts – and also permanent unemployment for even well-educated young persons, unless they have family connections to get him or her into a job that pays far more than a kid with no job experience is likely to be worth at first.

                      More than a century ago, Progressives were honest about this – they _intended_ the minimum wage to create a permanently unemployable welfare class. But they expected the unemployed would not start families, so this underclass would not be _permanent_ – the minimum wage was supposed to be an indirect form of eugenics.

                2. True but the fact is we still need those workers. There is nothing that says a janitor cleaning the doctor offices should make as much as the doctor, but we should appreciate the work they do and see that they have a livable wage.

                  1. And what happens when someone decides the janitor is too expensive and replaced him with a Roomba? What will his wages be then?

      2. Nobody forces someone to stay in an entry level job their entire lives. You should at least go for a shift manager spot.

      3. I believe you should be paid what your worth and minimum wage laws prevent that

  19. Isn’t that something like 6k per person?

    1. Yes, but you may get to keep as much as $1,400 of it. For personal prosperity.

      1. Thank God there is that thing where a dollar spent by the government magically becomes 7 dollars. Thank God.

  20. So — There’s a cure NOW in the form a vaccination.

    So WTF is going on with all this Tyrannical Authoritarian National level Dictation about wearing masks and $2T bail-outs????????

    Is Biden holding the cure HOSTAGE already???

  21. It’s been like this for a century, Republicans saying, “Those profligate Democrats! We can get those very necessary left-handed sewer flutes, plutonium-handled unicycle wrenches, and mink-lined elephant coffins for half price!!”

    1. And from domestic suppliers, with union labor!!!

  22. Congress has already spent or approved $4 trillion on the pandemic—and that doesn’t count around $7.3 trillion in economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve.

    Serious question: Does any of the actual/proposed relief legislation contain some kind of plan for — dare I say it? — paying off these “loans”?

  23. A trillion here, a trillion there. Soon you’ll be talking about real money!

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  25. Watched PBS Newhour last night. They were discussing the package.
    ‘The Senate only offered A THIRD of what the House is asking for…’

    Paraphrased but a third is still 600 BILLION dollars!!

  26. Exactly where is that additional 1.3 billion dollars going?

    It’s not actual ‘covid relief’ is it, Boehm?

    Tell us what it actually is.

    1. Both sides want wasteful and unaffordable covid ‘relief’.

      But only one side wants to tack on three times as much in political payouts and unrelated wish list spending.

      Boehm cannot get a job at Politico, but he’s still writing articles for them anyway.

  27. 1.9 trillion, 600 billion, what’s the difference?

    Oh yeah, around 1.3 trillion dollars.

  28. Billions or trillions, allow me one question. Where does the cash come from?

    1. Magic unicorn farts.

  29. We’ve already heard the arguments on minimum wage and we now know $15 is a magic number. Why not $20? Look, I’m thinking $45 an hour would work out well for me at this point. Let’s shake hands and agree on that. A burger and fries will cost you $75 but hey, wtf, we all gotta live. Now on to the bribe. Turtle bandied $600, Dementiatards want $2,000. If we’re going to snap our children’s spines in half, I want to do it right and have no stragglers dragging themselves about on withered arms, make it $20,000 for every man, woman, child, illegal alien. muslim terrorists and even for bed wetting antifa types. Now mine will go for more food and ammo, you libs can all buy more vibrators and lube. Seeya in the trenches.

  30. Let’s up our game and make it quadrillions. It is only funny money anyway. (sarc)

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