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Biden's not signing stimulus checks -- though he's done more than Trump ever did
Trump used the checks as a political tool, even as he only exacerbated the pandemic and the devastating economic crisis.
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Many of us were infuriated by Donald Trump putting his name on stimulus checks last year, after the Cares Act, the first big Covid-19 relief bill, was passed and he signed it into law. It was unprecedented and wildly abusive of his role as president.
Trump not only put his name on the checks — when only the names of Treasury Department officials appeared on government checks in the past — but he sent a letter on White House stationery out to all Americans taking credit for giving them the money, claiming he was making sure that “you and your family have the support you need to get through this time.”
Contrary to what Trump did, President Joe Biden isn’t putting his name on the $1400 checks going out to Americans in coming days as part of his $1.9 trillion dollar American Rescue Plan. In explaining it, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said this week this is “not about him” but is rather about getting relief to the American people.
And she’s right — even though Biden pushed through a massive bill of his own, not allowing Republicans to block it while largely keeping his party together. He deserves enormous credit — the kind someone would get from signing a relief check — but unlike the charlatan who came before him, Biden has faith that Americans will see what he’s done, and doesn’t need to claim it it big lights, since it’s not a falsehood.
Trump, trying ardently to grab the credit, sent out his letter bragging about the money last year even to the majority who got the money but received it via direct deposit rather than via a check in the mail. I believed Democrats needed to fight harder against Trump putting his name on the checks — which even slowed down sending the checks out — but Democratic leaders obviously thought it was more important to get the money out to people as soon as possible. And I can understand that.
But make no mistake: Trump used the stimulus checks as political tools, making sure many Americans who don’t even usually vote or don’t follow politics closely got a check in the mail with his name on it.
And it worked: I’ve heard from many people who’ve called my SiriusXM show talking about neighbors, co-workers or acquaintances who actually believed Trump made the bill happen and championed the relief from the beginning — pointing to his name on the check and the letter — which is the furthest thing from the truth. One man even talked about immigrants who were new to the country and didn’t have a familiarity with the political system who actually thought Trump paid the money out of his own pocket.
That had to translate into votes for Trump, who thankfully lost the 2020 election even as he brought out millions more people to support him. What was even more galling about all this was that Trump not only didn’t do anything to get the relief bill crafted; he’s responsible for allowing the coronavirus pandemic itself to surge out of control, denying it was even a crisis for months, while he’d been told privately how dire it was.
Trump was hostile to masks, urged governors to lift restrictions, inspired anti-lockdown protestors who engaged in violence, and sent the economy into a spiral while his administration botched mass testing — something that could have contained the transmission. His actions and rhetoric caused the pandemic to mushroom. It was Democrats, who controlled the House, who pushed for the Cares Act, shaping it and defending it. And it was Republicans, who controlled the Senate, who pared it down and took out vital aspects, along with Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin.
Trump actually did nothing — as with most legislation — and his White House, working on his behalf, was opposed to giving people more aid. Trump’s party then blocked further aid for months, with Mitch McConnell refusing to even allow votes in the Senate — and with Trump going along — only caving in at the end of the year to help save two Georgia Republican Senate seats, allowing a bill that gave people only $600 checks.
Joe Biden, on the other hand, actually crafted this $1.9 trillion bill, the American Rescue Plan, working on it with his team over a period of months during the transition — even as Trump did everything he could to keep White House administration from cooperating with the incoming administration and spent months trying to overturn the election results. Biden knew what needed to be in the bill and what needed to stay in the bill, and, working with Democrats in the House, and, later, Democrats in the Senate, made sure it wasn’t blocked or sliced up by Republicans.
So if anyone of these two presidents’ names should be on checks going to the American people it’s Joe Biden’s. And it’s a testament to Biden’s respect for this democracy and the American people — and taxpayer’s money — that he’s not using those checks as a political tool. It’s up to the rest of us to make sure Americans see what he’s accomplished here — and to make sure we work hard so that the wins keeps on coming.