But how much help is on the way? ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

December 30, 2020

Understand more. Argue less.

Good morning and a happy (almost) New Year. As we approach 2021, the next COVID-19 stimulus package has finally been signed. However, if we've learned anything this year, it's not over until it's over (and even then nothing's certain).

Let's dive in.


All About The Money

Katherine Chuang

This past week you’ve probably heard a lot of legislative jargon (“stimulus” and “omnibus”) that sounds like Harry Potter spell work. Let’s make sense of it all. 

On Sunday, President Trump signed an economic aid bill a week after it was approved by Congress. It contains $900 billion in COVID-19 relief and a $1.4 trillion omnibus bill (omnibus: containing or including many items). Even though Democrats wanted larger checks, Congress compromised on $600 in direct payments to individuals who made less than $75,000 in 2019 (AP).

While the $600 is guaranteed, Trump and the Democrats (you read that right) want more; an amendment that increases those payments to $2,000. The Democrat-controlled House overwhelmingly passed the amendment on Monday (AP). It's now up to the Senate, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked an initial immediate vote yesterday. The Senate will consider the amendment, Section 230 (protections for social media companies) and election security legislation in the next week. (APAxios)

Let's start with what's in the 5,000+ page bill.

The Facts

  • Within the COVID relief bill, over $350 billion has been set aside for vaccines, testing, health providers, schools and universities, rental assistance, food/farm aid, childcare, and the Postal Service. (AP)

  • In addition to the direct payments, there will be a $300 federal boost in weekly unemployment benefits for up to 10 weeks. Yesterday, the U.S. Labor Dept. said Americans likely won’t miss out on a week of unemployment benefits, despite Trump’s delay in signing. (AP, CNBC)

  • The omnibus bill funds federal agencies through Sept. 30 of next year. Over 3,000 pages of unrelated (a.k.a “pork-barrel”) legislation in the bill authorizes spending on things ranging from establishing the Women’s History Museum in the Smithsonian to horse doping. (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.

If you're reading on mobile, the Left narrative will appear above the Right's. Next week, we'll switch it up.

Narrative from the Left

The Republicans offering a measly $600 is a slap in the face to their constituents. The Senate’s actions has made us do the unthinkable: side with Donald Trump. At least they can finally understand what Trump puts the Democrats through on a regular basis.

Headlines & Snippets

McConnell Blocks Immediate Vote on $2,000 Checks Despite G.O.P. Pressure

Senator Mitch McConnell instead provided vague assurances that the Senate would “begin the process” of discussing the checks and two other issues that the president demanded lawmakers address. (NYT)

$2,000 Stimulus Checks Will Pass Senate Tuesday Unless GOP Blocks It, Schumer Says

"There's strong support for these $2,000 emergency checks from every corner of the country," Schumer added. "Leader McConnell ought to make sure Senate Republicans do not stand in the way of helping to meet the needs of American workers and families who are crying out for help." (Newsweek)

Trump’s Ego Could Cost Millions Of Unemployed A Week Of Aid

Trump, who had shown little interest in COVID-19 relief discussions, cast doubt on the package in the eleventh hour and essentially threatened to veto it unless Congress negotiated a new deal. (HuffPost)

Narrative from the Right

If the Democrats really want to increase direct payments to $2,000, then they can sign off on McConnell’s bill. They were the ones who rushed a piece of pork-barrel legislation through. We support sending Americans relief, not wasting tax-payer dollars.

Headlines & Snippets

What's Not In COVID-19 Relief Package Is Almost As Important As What's In It

Republicans succeeded in preventing Democrats from including hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out blue state pension funds, whose fiscal problems predate the pandemic. (Fox News)

‘Put America First’: McCarthy Slams Pelosi Following Trump’s Call For Bigger Stimulus Checks

“Worse than that, by waiting days before Christmas, Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to use the American people as leverage to make coronavirus relief contingent on government funding — which includes billions of foreign aid at a time when there are urgent needs at home.” (Daily Wire)

$1.4T Omnibus Bill Faces Backlash For Wasteful Spending

The massive bill, the largest ever passed in congressional history, could lead to more lockdowns, economic damage, job losses and general suffering for hard working Americans. (OAN)

But, It's Not All Bias 

Sometimes, the news gets it right. Here are two instances of biased outlets that reported with civility by conceding a point to the other side's narrative.

Trump Gets None of His Demands in the Spending Bill but Signs It Into Law Anyway

No $2,000 checks or Section 230 repeal in the spending bill. Like so many of President Donald Trump's policy tantrums, his opposition to the new government funding bill turned out to be nothing more than a pointless spectacle. (Reason)

Looks Like Trump's Stimulus Stall Won't Cause Unemployment Gap After All

Millions of jobless Americans likely won’t lose a week’s worth of unemployment benefits after all, the U.S. Labor Department said Tuesday—despite fears that President Trump’s dawdling in signing the new stimulus bill had cost people their pay. (VICE)


What Does It All Mean?

In a fitting end to an upside-down year, House Democrats and Donald Trump find themselves on the same side. Nevertheless, help is on the way. Personally, we dig this bipartisanship and (pseudo) civility. Depending on where you get your news, it’ll probably sound something like this.

  • If your news outlets lean Left, you saw the House Democrats happily sign onto increased direct payments to $2,000.You then watched Trump drag his feet on signing the bill, resulting in millions of people almost missing their unemployment checks for no reason. After months of pushing for increased direct payments, witnessing the GOP impede its passing is exhausting.

  • If your news outlets lean Right, you feel that direct payments to hard working Americans is great; we desperately need it. However, needlessly spending over $2 trillion is not. You’re probably questioning the legitimacy of the extraneous items in the bill, like money for more Smithsonians, horse doping protocols, and Pakistani gender programs.

Unfortunately, the stimulus package drama continues. Hours after signing off on the original bill on Sunday, President Trump tweeted“Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2000 payments ASAP. $600 IS NOT ENOUGH!” 

If McConnell can’t find a way to increase direct payments, the vital January 5th Georgia races could be in jeopardy. While Republicans only need to win one seat to maintain control of the Senate, both run-off elections are currently within a mere .50%. The margin for error is razor thin on both sides. According to a recent poll, 62% of Americans think a $600 direct payment is too small. The Democratic candidates, Ossof and Warnock, have tried to pin the blame for economic suffering and government inaction on the Republican incumbents, Perdue and Loeffler. On Tuesday, the Republican candidates joined Trump in calling for the $2,000 checks. 

Regardless of what happens with the increased direct payments in the Senate, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin confirmed that qualified Americans started receiving $600 checks last night. 

This will hardly be the last time we deal with the economic relief debate; Biden’s team indicated that they’ll push for more economic aid after Inauguration Day. While there may be disagreements about how much relief is needed, we can all be grateful that some progress is being made. Coupled with vaccine distribution, things are looking up for 2021.

Let's Argue Less

Now that you understand more, you're ready to take the next step.

Weekly Civility Challenge

Do you have a new years resolution about civlity? If so, what does that look like?

Reply to this email with your response and we’ll feature the winner next week!

Want to Learn More About Civil?

Until next Wednesday, that's all from us. Thank you!