February 16, 2021

Introducing John Avlon's Reality Check segment, New Day's John Berman noted that President Joe Biden's pandemic stimulus package is gaining support in the polls, but says that getting it passed may not be so easy.

"To go big or bipartisan. That seems to be the question confronting President Joe Biden," John Avlon said.

"But it might be a false choice. Here's what's clear. The clock is ticking on Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill, which tries to tackle not just the pandemic, but some of the underlying economic inequality and government incompetence that covid exposed.

"This is a dream with a deadline, because covid-related unemployment benefits start expiring March 14th, almost a year to the day since the nation shut down. Biden's proposal would not just result in $1400 relief checks for millions of American around, it would also supercharge the vaccination program now averaging 1.6 million doses a day. Would strengthen unemployment aid, expand child tax credits, offer subsidies for health insurance, boost small businesses, help the hungry, deliver aid for states and schools, and even raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

"Now, Biden seems willing to negotiate on the details, but not at the expense of going big. So when ten Republicans came to him with a $618 billion counteroffer, it was seen as a nonstarter. Here's why. Democrats still feel burned by Obama-era negotiations during the fiscal crisis, when they cut the size of the stimulus, added tax cuts and still got no Republican support, plus getting saddled with accusations of a slow recovery. So they're not inclined to replay that particular version of Lucy and the football.

"Then there's this, the fiscal conservative card doesn't have the credit it used to. Because Republicans learned to love big stimulus in the Trump years. Remember, they passed a more than $2 trillion package last spring which is credited with stopping the economy from cratering. An additional $900 billion at the end of 2020. That's more than $3 trillion passed under a Republican president and senate. So take their claims of Democrats being socialists with a pound of salt.

"Biden also seems to have public opinion on his side. Get this: A stunning 83% of the Americans want Congress to pass a new economic relief package, according to a recent CBS/YouGov poll. Right now, it's doubtful you could get 83% of Americans to agree on apple pie across partisan lines. This should be an easy win, right? Especially since key senate Republicans backed Trump's call for $2,000 stimulus check in December. But when I tell you those senators included Lindsey Graham, Josh Hawley, and Marco Rubio? You might want to pump the brakes on any great expectations.

"Nonetheless, there are signs of Republican support for Biden's plan, just among some governors and mayors rather than members of Congress. As Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer said, it's not a Republican issue or a Democrat issue. It's a public health issue. Economic issue. And it's a public safety issue. So while budget reconciliation wasn't the kind of reconciliation Joe Biden promised, it looks like his 'go big' plan might actually get some bipartisan support, just not in Washington.

"And that's your reality check."

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