In the interest of unity, the willfully misunderstood buzzword of the moment, President Biden is right to hear out the Republican senators offering a counter-proposal to his pandemic relief plan. But let’s not get carried away.
If Biden can draw GOP support by tinkering with the composition and scope of his stimulus package, wonderful. But dramatically diminishing aid that people, cities, states and the economy desperately need is not worth the minor symbolic victory of a few Republican votes. And the proposal put forward by the 10 senators who met with Biden on Monday suggests that they are asking for too much — or, in terms of the relief Americans will get, asking for too little.
The group led by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, proposes about $600 billion in aid, or two-thirds less than the president’s $1.9 trillion plan. The Republican package would spend about half as much on direct payments to households by cutting the maximum value of the one-time checks from $1,400 to $1,000 and setting stricter income limits for eligibility. It would also shrink Biden’s proposed spending on supplemental unemployment benefits by over 60%, dropping the added benefit from $400 to $300 a week and ending the payments in June instead of September.