“I support passing COVID relief with support from Republicans if we can get it. But the COVID relief has to pass. No ifs, ands, or buts,” Biden said in answer to a question about whether budget reconciliation, which allows certain bills to be passed with a simple majority instead the usual 60 votes, should be used.
The $1.9 trillion spending bill would give hundreds of billions of dollars to states and cities, in essence bailing out poor-performing ones that were ailing long before the pandemic got going. It would also give another $1400 to each person in the U.S. to help the economy and boost incomes that may have been depressed during the pandemic.
Republicans have opposed using federal money to bail out states as well as adding another nearly two trillion dollars to the already bulging national debt.
Growing debt could have lasting consequences
Just last year, $4.2 trillion was added to the debt, and economists worry that it may be reaching dangerous levels.
According to the CBO, levels of debt that grow too high could lead investors to lose confidence in the U.S. and the dollar. In fact, this was beginning to happen during the years of Barack Obama’s presidency, but former President Donald Trump’s policies succeeded in making the dollar stronger despite growing debt.
Democrats argue that the bill is needed to keep the economy stable as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage, but Republicans are not as convinced that it is really necessary.
After all, both New York and California have finally decided to begin reopening now that Trump is out of office, which should boost the economy nicely, at least for now. And the vaccine is being rolled out to high-risk groups, which should bring the number of coronavirus deaths down and lessen the need for closures and shutdowns.
Even if budget reconciliation is used to pass the huge bill, Biden is hoping some Republicans might jump on board anyway. “The president wants this to be a bipartisan package, regardless of the mechanisms,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a White House press briefing on Thursday. “Republicans can still vote for a package even if it goes through reconciliation. There’s no blood oath.”
A few moderate Republicans may do just that, even if the Senate falls short of overcoming the filibuster. But should they?
The strong push for bipartisanship for the bill’s passage seems to suggest that Biden and the Democrats know that adding this much more debt is risky. After all, why would they not want to take sole credit and cut Republicans out if they thought the bill would be positive for the country as a whole?
If the ultimate result of the bill is deflation of the dollar’s valuation and inflation of prices within the U.S., I guess Biden doesn’t want the Democrats to be the only ones who get blamed.