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Self-avowed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders and his allies are predictably upset that their more moderate peers in the Democrat Party are willing to add strict means testing to the next coronavirus stimulus check to prevent government funds from being doled out to those not in need.
During the Senate’s so-called “vote-a-rama” last Thursday, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a nonbinding amendment calling for the next stimulus check to be more targeted so that taxpayer funds aren’t wasted on helping the well-off.
Included among the Democrats who introduced the amendment were Sens. Joe Manchin, Krysten Sinema, Maggie Hassan, Jon Tester, Jeanne Shaheen, John Hickenlooper, Mark Warner and Mark Kelly.
“I don’t think a single person on this floor would disagree to target the relief to our neighbors who are struggling to pay rent and put food on the table. This $1,400 will make a significant impact on their ability to get by,” Manchin said during the vote, as reported by The Hill.
“There are other families who have not missed a single paycheck as a result of this pandemic. It does not make sense to send a check to those individuals,” he added.
At the time, Sanders tacitly supported the amendment, but only on the basis that checks be phased out for individuals earning more than $75,000 per year.
“I do not oppose this amendment. I do not think anybody here wants to see people who make $300,000 get direct payments. Let’s make certain that people who are making $75,000 per year or less do get their payments and couples making $150,000 or less do get their payments,” he reportedly said.
The problem for Sanders and his socialist allies is that a push has emerged to limit checks to anyone making under $50,000.
The push is motivated by U.S. Census Bureau data cited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce showing that the majority of households with $50,000 or more in annual income haven’t suffered amid the coronavirus crisis.
“The Census Bureau Pulse survey indicates that while a majority of households with less than $50,000 in income have experienced a loss of employment income, a majority of household with more than $50,000 in income—including those between $50,000 and $150,000—have not experienced any loss in earned income,” the Chamber wrote in a letter to the White House and Congress last week.
View the letter below:
According to The Washington Post, some senior Democrats have begun considering adopting the Chamber’s proposed cap.
“One proposal discussed by senior Democrats includes lowering the threshold for the payments to begin phasing out above $50,000 for single taxpayers, $75,000 for people who file as the heads of households, and $100,000 for married couples,” the Post reported last week.
Previous coronavirus relief bills phased out stimulus checks for individuals earning $75,000+ and families earning $150,000+.
“Individuals with an AGI of less than $75,000 and married couples filing jointly with a combined AGI of less than $150,000 will be eligible to receive the entire $600. However, that amount begins to ‘phase out’ for individuals and couples with adjusted gross incomes greater than $75,000/$150,000 respectively,” Forbes reported after the last relief bill was passed in December.
“Single filers with an AGI of more than $75,000 and jointly filing couples with a combined AGI of more than $150,000 will have their payments reduced at a rate of $5 for every $100 of additional income above $75,000.”
But senior Democrats such as Manchin have endorsed the idea of reducing the phaseout cutoff to $50,000/$100,000, as reported below by NBC News “journalist” Sahil Kapur:
Democrats are going to approve $1,400 checks.
But they’re torn on who gets them.
The conservaDem push from Manchin: Phaseout starts at incomes $50K/person, cuts off at $75K.
But Chairmen Wyden & Sanders want to keep the $75K-$100K phaseout like last time.
This is a live ball.
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) February 5, 2021
It’s not clear why a journalist would describe Manchin, who’s a Democrat, as a “conservaDem.”
Regardless, Manchin’s support is presumably what provoked a torrent of outrage from Sanders and his allies on Saturday.
Unbelievable. There are some Dems who want to lower the income eligibility for direct payments from $75,000 to $50,000 for individuals, and $150,000 to $100,000 for couples. In other words, working class people who got checks from Trump would not get them from Biden. Brilliant!
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 7, 2021
I strongly oppose lowering income eligibility for direct payments from $75,000 to $50,000 for individuals and $150,000 to $100,000 for couples. In these difficult times, ALL working class people deserve the full $1,400. Last I heard, someone making $55,000 a year is not “rich.”
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 7, 2021
It would be outrageous if we ran on giving more relief and ended up doing the opposite.
It’s sad that this is even an argument in the Dem party. COVID relief is disaster relief, & it’s urgent.
Our first act out of the gate should be big, bold, and strong. Not weaker & smaller. https://t.co/N8aTKVZeAt
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 7, 2021
In conclusion, $50k is wack and we shouldn’t do wack things.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 7, 2021
While Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez clearly believes the phase-out proposal is “wack,” the evidence suggests it’s fiscally sound. Of course, fiscal responsibility isn’t a value that fits with her and Sanders’ beloved socialism.
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