Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) has called on President-elect Joe Biden to provide stronger relief than what he proposed in his economic stimulus policy, including $2000 stimulus checks and retroactive unemployment benefits.
The stimulus package proposed by Biden, estimated to cost around $1.9 trillion, would provide $1,400 in direct payments to everyone who was eligible to receive the $600 payments provided by the latest COVID-19 relief bill. It would also increase the federal minimum wage from its current rate of $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour, and enhance unemployment insurance by providing $400 in extra payments each week to recipients through September. Under the plan currently in place, $300 in extra payments to unemployed individuals are set to expire by the end of this month.
Biden’s proposal would supplement the $600 payments that were given out starting in late December, after a compromise bill between Democrats and Republicans was signed into law by President Donald Trump.
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But Ocasio-Cortez said the amount proposed in the President-elect’s bill is not enough.
“$2,000 means $2,000. $2,000 does not mean $1,400,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, according to reporting from The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein.
In a subsequent tweet quoting Stein’s post, Ocasio-Cortez took aim at other limitations of Biden’s proposal.
“Unemployment benefits should be retroactive too,” she added.
Both Democrats and Trump called for increasing the checks to $2,000, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) would not allow the bill to go through the Senate unless it contained a number of other provisions, such as abolishing Section 230 protections for internet companies and investigations into unfounded claims of voter fraud in last year’s presidential election. With these stipulations McConnell essentially killed the possibility of any changes to stimulus payments being made at that time.
Polling shows significant support for $2,000 coronavirus economic relief payments across the political spectrum. Overall, 78 percent of Americans support the idea, with 84 percent of Democrats backing it and 74 percent of Republicans endorsing the idea as well, according to a Data for Progress poll conducted late last month.
It’s more likely that Americans would back Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal for full $2,000 checks rather than Biden’s plan to supplement the original $600. Subsequent polling from Data for Progress has, in fact, found that 65 percent of Americans would be supportive of $2,000 stimulus checks every month until the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end.
More than a third of households in the U.S. are presently having a difficult time meeting their basic needs, including paying for housing and food.