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House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) conduct a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center where they addressed Covid-19 relief funding on Thursday, April 30, 2020. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

'Why Democrats Lose Elections': Clyburn Admits Paycheck Guarantee Best Way to Save Jobs—But Says It Costs Too Much

An analysis of the paycheck guarantee proposal showed it would cost less than what Congress has already appropriated for its flawed small business loan program.

Jake Johnson

Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third ranking Democrat in the House, admitted this week that Rep. Pramila Jayapal's paycheck guarantee proposal would be the "most efficient way" to stem mass layoffs—but said the plan was left out of the HEROES Act because it would be too expensive.

Clyburn was not asked to explain why the HEROES Act was able to accommodate other expensive provisions like tax cuts for wealthy Americans or massive subsidies for the private insurance industry.

"I like her bill myself," the South Carolina Democrat said of Jayapal's Paycheck Guarantee Act in an interview on MSNBC Wednesday. The proposed legislation would use federal dollars to cover 100% of worker benefits and salaries up to $100,000 for three months.

"Paycheck guarantee is great," Clyburn continued. "I think doing it this way is an efficient way to do it. In fact, I think it's the most efficient way to do it. But, we have to pay for all of these things... We just got to the point where the bill just got too big."

Clyburn was not asked to explain why, if cost was of paramount concern, the HEROES Act was able to accommodate other expensive provisions like tax cuts for wealthy Americans or massive subsidies for the private insurance industry. The House is expected to vote on the 1,815-page bill on Friday.

"This is why Democrats lose elections," wrote one Twitter user in response to Clyburn's comments.


In a Democratic caucus call on Monday, Jayapal, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), confronted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) over the exclusion of the paycheck guarantee proposal from the final text of the HEROES Act despite broad support for the plan among House Democrats.

Pelosi said during the call that Democratic leaders would not include the paycheck guarantee in the HEROES Act because Jayapal had not yet released legislative text for the proposal.

"But that was by design," wrote The American Prospect's David Dayen. "The office of lawyers who translate member desires into legislative text faces a backlog amid the D.C. shutdown. So they're only writing up bills from the leadership. This is a total freeze-out that's been going on for months."

According to a cost analysis prepared for Jayapal's office by Moody's Analytics, the paycheck guarantee would benefit more than 36 million U.S. workers and cost $654 billion over six months.

"That puts the cost of this program at less than what Congress appropriated for the two rounds of loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, which has not been able to stem the tide of job losses," Jayapal wrote in a Washington Post op-ed this week.

Pelosi expressed confidence during a press briefing Thursday that she has the votes to pass the HEROES Act despite progressive outrage over the bill's shortcomings and corporate-friendly provisions.

Leaders of the CPC have advised the group's nearly 100 members to say they are undecided on how they plan to vote on the bill. HuffPost reported Thursday that House progressives are "developing a plan to threaten to stop a vote on the bill if Democratic leaders don't improve paycheck protections and health care provision," but it is unclear whether they will have the numbers to succeed.

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