GOP Congressman under fire for suggesting stimulus payments only go to those who’ve been vaccinated

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Only days into President Joe Biden’s administration, some congressional Republicans are already facing accusations that they’re behaving like Democrat-friendly establishment lackeys vs stalwart bulwarks against the left’s harmful agenda.

Congressional Republicans like Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, for instance, who’s under fire for suggesting that $1,400 in additional planned stimulus money only be allocated to those Americans who choose to obtain a coronavirus vaccine.

In a Yahoo News interview Thursday, he proposed the “solution” while touting his desire for Democrats and Republicans to “come together.”

Listen:

“Hopefully there are things that we can come together on. You know, even the pandemic response. It’s so important that we build herd immunity as soon as we can,” he said.

While I am not for giving a $1,400 stimulus check for anything, I’d be willing to sign off on a stimulus check of $1,400 for people who take the vaccine, and I hope the administration will look at that option because we actually buy something with our $1,400 — and that’s herd immunity.”

Whether he realized it or not, the idea was the brainchild of Democrats. Two months ago, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, a Democrat, proposed virtually the same thing in a column he published in The Washington Post.

“Pay people to take a covid vaccine. The vaccines are likely to arrive at the same moment Washington is, belatedly, taking up much-needed stimulus legislation. The timing couldn’t be better: Money would go into Americans’ pockets just when the U.S. economy can begin fully reopening with a vaccinated population that can go about their daily lives without fear of catching the disease or infecting others,” he wrote.

“To that end, the federal government should pay every American $1,500 to get vaccinated. Send proof of vaccination, receive a $1,500 check or money via direct deposit. Such an incentive might be the most effective way to persuade people to overcome suspicion or even fear of vaccines that, like so much else about the pandemic, became politicized during an election year.”

Within days the endorsements from others on the left began pouring in.

Listen to anti-Trump zealot Anthony Scaramucci and failed 2020 Democrat presidential candidate Andrew Yang offering their own endorsements below:

“Well, I like the idea because it’ll increase the likelihood of the herd immunity. There’s a lot of anti-vaxxers, a lot of misinformation about vaccine out there, Don. And I also think people need the money,” Scaramucci said at the time to CNN host Don Lemon.

Yang concurred.

“I think we should be getting money into people’s hands right now, but certainly it would increase adoption of the vaccine, and we’re going to need to do something to stimulate trust and widespread adoption if we are going to actually be able to resume any kind of public gatherings, indoor dining, or really any form of normalcy,” he said.

“I think John is on to something very important. It’s common sense. If you’re going to revive a $22 trillion economy, spending a few hundred million on getting adoption of the vaccine up makes perfect sense.”

Is it really “common sense,” though?

Stivers’ many, many, many critics who’ve rushed forth since his interview with Yahoo News to tear into him certainly don’t think it is.

Look:

The anger is palpable — and for good reasons. Like some of the critics above noted, the coronavirus vaccine does raise some safety issues, particularly for those with allergies.

Plus, according to science, offering a “reward” for taking the vaccine would actually devalue the vaccine itself.

“Humans don’t respond to incentives like rats pressing levers for food; they try to interpret what being offered payment means. In this case, the offer risks implying that the vaccine is not a thing of value,” The New York Times noted in a report last month.

It cited several studies and papers to back this assertion, including one that “found that when people aren’t sure whether something is good or bad, the prospect of payment helps them decide, in the negative.”

Plus, the Times added, Americans would also be “likely to infer from payment that the vaccine could be risky.”

All that would only dissuade Americans from obtaining a vaccine — all while punishing those who’re either unable to or uninterested in obtaining one themselves.

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Vivek Saxena

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