BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – According to opinion polls $1.9 trillion COVID relief package is popular with Americans.

One poll found 77 percent of Americans support President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Among Republican voters the support was at 59 percent. Even when told the plan was devised by Democrats, 53 percent of Republicans said they support it.

However, the legislation has not won the support of Republicans in Congress. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas was one of the Republicans who voted against the measure. He said:

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn

“Republicans and Democrats worked together last year in a true show of unity to provide roughly $4 trillion in relief across five bipartisan bills. We could have built on that record this year, but instead Democrats put together a package of unrelated, wasteful, and downright partisan priorities: a blank check for mismanaged union pension funds; funding for climate justice; backdoor money for Planned Parenthood; an exclusive paid leave program for bureaucrats; and the list goes on.”

Cornyn added: “More than 90 percent of the bill’s total funding is not directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Democrat colleagues drafted this partisan bill by choice, not necessity. Their desire to turn a liberal wish list into law far outranked their interest in bipartisanship or unity.

“I hope Democrats will work with us on the next relief bill for Americans’ recovery from the economic and health impacts of the pandemic so it can be both bipartisan and targeted toward those who need the help, like I’ve advocated for all along.”

Democrats are enthusiastic about the new bill. They argue that although the bill adds to the federal debt, much of the money that will be pumped into the economy will be spent, thereby boosting taxes. 

Gilberto Hinojosa

Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, said passage of the American Rescue Plan means millions of Texans will soon receive $1,400 checks to support their families through the current crisis. Additionally, he said, billions of dollars will now go towards additional unemployment aid, the nation’s schools, small businesses, vaccine distribution, and funding for state and local governments.

“I commend our Democratic Senators for their support in passing President Biden’s COVID relief bill, which provides necessary $1400 checks for Texas families and is the largest anti-poverty effort in a generation. Texans need this relief and we are lucky to have national elected leaders who are now working on behalf of the people. Simply put, this is what happens when you elect Democrats — they deliver for the American people,” said Hinojosa, a Brownsville native.

“Unfortunately, every single Republican in the Senate, including our very own Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, voted against providing struggling Americans and their children with much-needed relief during this unprecedented health and economic crisis that has taken so much from our communities. This is who our Republican elected officials are. This is what they believe in. 

Hinojosa said Democrats were also successful in expanding the child tax credit, subsidies for child care, food and rental assistance, and the eligibility criteria under the Affordable Care Act. He said when Democrats are elected into office, they deliver for Texans and their families. 

“It is shameful that Texans have Senators who will not fight for Texas families and small businesses, yet have no problem passing trillions of dollars in tax breaks for the mega-rich in this country. We must vote for elected officials who will do the jobs they were elected to do. We must elect Democrats who will fight for our families and our communities,” Hinojosa added.

Steve Rattner, chairman and CEO of Willett Advisors, LLC, argued that the American Rescue Plan is evidence that the 2020 election was arguably the most consequential election since Roosevelt defeated Hoover in 1932. 

“We have basically moved from a government that said it wants to do less, it wants to pull back, to a government that wants to lean in and solve problems in a very aggressive way,” Rattner said, on the Morning Joe show on MSNBC.

Steve Rattner

By way of demonstration, Rattner compared President Trump tax cuts, otherwise known as TCJA, from early 2017, to Biden’s American Rescue Plan of Joe Biden. “The two pieces of legislation are almost exactly the same size at $1.9 trillion. So, we have a very nice comparison,” he said. 

Rattner said the TCJA was all about tax cuts for businesses and those earning more than $75,000 a year, with 54 percent of the tax cuts going to these groups. Only 16 percent went to people making less than $17,000 a year. The legislation was $1.9 trillion in tax cuts and zero additional spending. “It is like night and day,” Rattner said, when comparing Trump’s bill to the American Rescue Plan. 

Rattner said 52 percent of Biden’s aids individuals in one form or another, whether it is through stimulus checks, unemployment insurance, or tax cuts for child care. He said the bill provides $143 billion in tax cuts and a $1.75 trillion increase in spending.

“It is the most dramatic shift in the philosophy of government, really going back 70 or 80 years.” 

Rattner said 23 percent of the benefits in the Biden plan go to bottom 20 percent of American earners. Only one percent of the TCJA went to these people, he said. Sixty five percent of the TCJA went to the top 20 percent of American earners. Only 11 percent of the Biden plan went to the top 20 percent. “You can see who is helped more and who is helped less between these two bills,” he said.

As for the poverty rate, Rattner said the TCJA barely – by 0.3 percentage points – moved the poverty rate down. He said it is estimated the American Rescue Plan will cut poverty by a third. 

“We have never done anything like that in our entire history in one year. It will cut child poverty in half. It will bring poverty down to just over eight percent. It was drifting between 12 and 16 percent before this bill was passed,” Rattner said.

Rattner said the American Rescue Plan is a dramatic piece of legislation. “It may be a little bit too large for some of us. (It) could have been done in a more targeted fashion. But you cannot mistake the enormous impact of this bill, especially in contrast to the last administration.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows a stimulus check issued by the IRS to help combat the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo AP/Eric Gay)

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