White House economist rejects GOP senators’ push for $1,000 stimulus checks instead of $1,400

Jared Bernstein
Council of Economic Advisors nominee Jared Bernstein speaks after US President-elect Joe Biden announced his economic team at The Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on December 1, 2020.

  • White House economic advisor Joe Bernstein told MSNBC that he thinks President Biden will reject GOP plans for smaller direct payment checks. 
  • While Biden is pushing for $1,400 checks as part of his $1.9 trillion stimulus deal, Republicans think the sum is too big and want $1,000 checks. 
  • Democrats are preparing to pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion bill including the larger checks without GOP support if necessary. 
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A White House economist knocked back a GOP proposal for stimulus checks of $1,000 on Monday night, characterizing it as too little to satisfy President Joe Biden.

Jared Bernstein, a member of the White House Economic Advisors Council, said that Biden would want more than the offer from ten Republican senators. Biden is pushing for $1,400 checks.

Speaking to anchor Rachel Maddow, Bernstein discussed the meeting Monday evening between a group of moderate GOP senators and Biden as they seek to broker a bipartisan stimulus deal. 

Bernstein highlighted differences between the parties, with the size of direct payment checks one of the issues. 

While Biden wants checks of $1,400 as part of his $1.9 trillion stimulus deal, the ten GOP senators back a much smaller $600 billion relief bill. That plan includes smaller checks, worth $1,000 each, and would sent them to fewer people.

Bernstein said there was common ground between the White House and the GOP senators on aid for businesses and “some agreement on addressing the COVID crisis.”

But he said that key differences remained: “They also have checks to direct impact payments to people. But those checks are scaled back. And I and I believe from some comments coming out of the White House tonight, they’re scaled back at a level that the president would judge to be too far.”

There are indications that some details of the direct payments checks plans are up for negotiation, according to comments by Biden aides to The New York Times.

The aides said that the president remains opposed to scaling back the relief bill, but is open to negotiating details, including the overall cost, by implementing tighter thresholds for who gets them. 

Bloomberg also reported Monday that the size of the checks, and the eligibility criteria to receive them, was causing division inside the White House. 

Bernstein made it clear in his comments to MSNBC that the proposed GOP scale back of the checks is too much. 

Read more: President Biden already has an antagonist-in-chief. It’s Ron DeSantis, the Florida GOP governor Democrats have tagged as ‘Trump’s errand boy.’

Some Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have expressed skepticism about the size of the bill and advocate more targeted relief.

Though Biden is seeking to negotiate a bipartisan deal, Democrats have prepared the ground to pass the $1,9 trillion deal without GOP support if necessary, using a mechanism called budget reconciliation.

The move means that Democrats could pass the bill with only Democrats, bypassing potential Republican blocking measures. 

Bernstein said Monday that Biden is happy to discuss the bill with Republicans, but “will not settle for any package that fails to meet this moment with the magnitude to finally knock COVID back on its feet, get it behind us, and launch a robust and inclusive and a racially equitable recovery.”

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