Stimulus bill back-and-forth ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

February 10, 2021

Understand more. Argue less.

Good morning. While another round of corona-checks aren’t here quite yet, we’re close. Let’s take a look at what might happen before those direct deposits hit your bank accounts.

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How Much Is Too Much?

Jenna Gibson

Two COVID-19 relief bills later, Biden and Congressional Democrats are gunning for a third. The President’s “American Rescue Plan” costs $1.9 trillion, and is part of his broader strategy to resuscitate the economy and vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office. If you were wondering, it’s day 22 and we're at 9.2 million. Vaccinations aside, the Democrats are also including an increased minimum wage, child tax credits, and state funding. GOP Senators proposed a $618 billion package that prioritizes vaccine distribution and targeted relief for families, workers, and small businesses. The biggest difference between the bills is the local and local and state government aid they provide: Biden’s plan allocates $350 billion while the GOP proposal doesn’t contain any.

After meeting with top Republicans last week about their proposed legislation, President Biden decided to forge ahead, claiming that GOP Senators are, “just not willing to go as far as I think we have to go.” Soon after, both chambers of Congress passed a budget resolution that transforms the stimulus into a reconciliation bill. This means they only need a simple 51-vote majority (which the Democrats have), not the usual 60-vote majority. Republicans aren’t pleased with this unilateral action.

Here’s what you need to know about the bill.

The Facts

  • Why aren’t reconciliation bills used more often? Reconciliation can only be used for government spending legislation in the federal budget, which Congress passes annually. However, because the budget failed to pass in 2020, Congress will be passing two this year. Democrats used reconciliation to pass a healthcare budget in 2010, and Republicans for their 2017 tax cut plan. (NPR)

  • Corona Cash pt. 3. Biden’s plan is committed to offering no less than $1,400 stimulus checks per person. At the moment, individuals making under $75,000 and couples making under $150,000 are eligible. However, the qualifying income hasn’t been finalized. (AP)

  • But, it’s complicated. A University of Pennsylvania Budget Model estimates that 73% of the $1,400 stimulus checks would go into savings, meaning consumer spending might not help the economy as much as some would think. (AP)

  • A (small) step in the right direction. While unemployment fell from 6.7% to 6.3% in January, only 49,000 jobs were added last month. There’s still a long way to go; as it stands, there are 10 million jobs yet to be recovered from pre-COVID. (AP)


How It's Being Spun

Katherine Chuang

Here are the narratives from both sides, along with supporting headlines and article snippets. These are not necessarily factual, but instead illustrate the news coverage that solidifies the narrative from each side. The bias ratings refer to news outlets as a whole, not a specific article.

Narrative from the Left

As soon as we get a President that's finally taking COVID seriously, the Right wants to be stingy. After staying quiet during the first rounds of stimulus, the GOP is delaying more COVID relief, hurting the people who need it the most. While unsuccessful, at least Biden tried to reach across the aisle. That’s more than one could say about the past President.

Supporting Headlines

The Radically Simple New Approach to Helping Families: Send Parents Money

Americans Want Bigger Stimulus Checks — Even If GOP Isn’t On Board

Yellen: Biden Stimulus Plan Could Bring U.S. To Full Employment By Next Year

Narrative from the Right

Democrats can’t wrap their heads around the fact that spending two TRILLION (with a T) might not be the best idea. Blindly throwing money at Americans won’t have a large enough impact to revive the economy. What the country really needs is targeted legislation that helps struggling groups without ballooning federal debt.

Supporting Headlines

Emboldened Bernie Sanders Shepherds Big Spending, Far-Left Wishlist Through Senate

Bulldozing Congressional Minority With Reconciliation Sets Dems Up For 4 Years Of Failure

Leading Liberal Economist Sounds Alarm Over Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Covid Bill

But, It's Not All Bias 

Sometimes, the news gets it right. Here are two cases where traditionally biased news outlets reported with relative objectivity, conceding a point to the other side's narrative.

A $15 minimum Wage Would Hurt Those It's Meant To Help

CNN deviates from the predominate Left narrative with an opinion piece that highlights the negative aspects of an increased minimum wage on the Americans that supposedly need it the most. (CNN)

Poll: 68% Of Americans Support Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill

The Daily Caller deviates from the predominate Right narrative by highlighting a poll that shows a majority of Americans that support Biden's stimulus package in its current form. (Daily Caller)


What Does It All Mean?

With so much money on the line, each side has been spinning the stimulus story differently. Depending on where you get your news, it’ll probably sound a little like this… 

  • If your news outlets lean Right, you see comprehensive fiscal support as an inherently positive thing that will help both individuals and the struggling economy as a whole. You may think that policies like a $15 minimum wage and Obamacare subsidies are necessary as the vaccination process drags on. Although bipartisan support would be great, Democrats don’t have time to wait around for compromise.
  • If your news outlets lean Left, you see Democrats as willing to compromise and work with Republicans… as long as they get everything they want.We certainly need to allocate funding to vaccine distribution and testing, but there’s a lot of unnecessary spending that’s going to hurt us more in the long run. Like the endless lockdowns, the cure can’t be worse than the problem, especially with the end in sight. 

A Quinnipiac University survey found that 68% of Americans support Biden’s stimulus package in its current form, while only 24% oppose the measure. As usual, that support is split along party lines. Almost all Democrats approve, while only 37% of Republicans favor the legislation. Republicans are pointing to a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which said U.S. economic growth will recover “rapidly” and the unemployment rate could fall from 6.3% to 5.3% later this year. Democrats say that we need a big package to get things back to normal ASAP; that same CBO report projects that without a stimulus package, the economy won’t return to full employment until late 2024. It’s not a question of if a stimulus package is needed, but how much.

Initially thought to be unpassable, increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2025 is back on the table. It’s incredibly complex and contentious though; Republicans argue that the job losses and potential inflation outweigh the benefits. However, they need a Democrat to vote against the wage hike in order for it to be left out of the bill. They might just be in luck, as moderate Senator Joe Manchin has said that he doesn’t support including a minimum wage increase. The Democrats can’t lose a single Senator if they want the stimulus package to pass, but it’s unclear whether Manchin will take down the whole bill by voting against the minimum wage increase. The aforementioned CBO report estimates that a minimum wage hike could increase pay for 17 million Americans, bring 900,000 people above the poverty line. That being said, it could also eliminate 1.4 million jobs by 2025.

Joe Biden is enjoying an approval rating of 58% and a disapproval rating of 29%. Increased funding for COVID testing, vaccine distribution, school reopenings, and unemployment insurance have all enjoyed a modicum of bipartisan support. Even with that support, handling COVID won’t be easy. Biden hopes to pass the bill in March (when unemployment benefits and other aid expires), but nothing’s for certain quite yet.


What Else We're Following

  • The trial begins. On the opening day of Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, Democrats began their case to convince Senators that Trump incited violence and can legally be impeached. Trump’s defense fought back on grounds that the former President’s January 6th address where he told his supporters to “fight like hell” was a figure of speech, and that impeaching a president once out of office is unconstitutional. The trial continues tomorrow. (AP)

  • Berg breakup. A 69-square mile iceberg is breaking up after it came close to being swept into the southern Atlantic island of South Georgia. The pieces appear set to drift north, where they might prove a problem for humans. (National Geographic)

  • Up against a wall. President Biden promised to halt construction of the border wall, but some South Texas landowners fighting eminent domain don’t know the status of their land. (WSJ)

  • Pulling back. Almost a week after a million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine arrived in South Africa, officials halted its distribution after evidence emerged that the vaccine did not protect clinical trial volunteers from mild or moderate illness caused by the more contagious virus variant that was first seen there. (Science Magazine)

Finally, some good news

  • One Simple Change Cut Accidental Albatross and Seabird Deaths by 98%: ‘Absolutely amazing’ (Good News Network)
  • Sanctuary Containing ‘Healthiest Coral Reefs in the World’ Just Tripled in Size Thanks to U.S. Government Protection (Good News Network)
  • Kenyan Woman’s Startup Recycles Plastic Waste into Bricks That Are 5x Stronger Than Concrete (Good News Network)
  • Texas Lawyer Trapped By Cat Filter On Zoom Call, Informs Judge He Is Not A Cat (Guardian)

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Regardless, have a great week. We'll see you next Wednesday!

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