Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) is seen on the House steps of the Capitol during votes on Friday, December 4, 2020.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) is seen on the House steps of the Capitol during votes on Friday, December 4, 2020. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

'Not Just Bad Economics, But Terrible Politics': Khanna Warns Democrats Against Restricting Eligibility for $1,400 Checks

"Have we learned nothing?"

Jake Johnson

Progressive Congressman Ro Khanna on Wednesday cautioned President Joe Biden and the Democratic leadership against further restricting eligibility for any future round of direct coronavirus relief payments, warning that excluding many struggling middle-class Americans from checks would be misguided and politically disastrous.

"This is not just bad economics, but terrible politics," Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted in response to a new analysis that argues providing stimulus checks only to households that earn less than $75,000 a year would be better for families and the overall economy, given that higher earners are more likely to save the money or use it to pay off debts.

Khanna contended that such an approach would backfire, fueling the widespread view that the federal government doesn't care about the middle class.

"Have we learned nothing?" the California Democrat asked.

The two previous rounds of direct payments phased out for higher earners, with the checks gradually shrinking in size for individuals with annual incomes of more than $75,000 and couples with combined incomes of more than $150,000.

Under the eligibility structure proposed by the House-passed CARES Act, married couples with a combined annual income of $300,000 and two or more children would have been eligible for some money, but the vast majority of the benefits would have gone to lower- and middle-income households.

While the White House has not yet suggested specific eligibility details for its proposed $1,400 payments, Biden on Monday said he would be willing to entertain a lower income cutoff after a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and others raised concerns that the new round of checks would not be sufficiently "targeted."

"I proposed that because it was bipartisan, I thought it would increase the prospects of passage, the additional $1,400 in direct cash payments to folks," Biden said during a White House event Monday. "Well, there's legitimate reasons for people to say: 'Do you have the lines drawn the exact right way? Should it go to anybody making X number of dollars or Y?' I'm open to negotiate those things."

Progressives, already frustrated that Biden is calling for $1,400 checks instead of the promised $2,000, were quick to reject any additional means testing.

"The $2,000 checks initiative does not have to go down the same way the public option went down. The president and congressional Democrats do not have to do what weak-kneed, wimpy Democrats of the past have so often done," argued The Daily Poster's David Sirota. "They do not have to negotiate against themselves, word-parse their way out of campaign pledges and delude themselves into thinking that Republicans are good-faith legislative partners."

"They could instead try to use their election mandate—and the weakened state of the GOP—to demand full survival checks," Sirota added, "rather than pretending that bad-faith Republican senators have any standing to make policy arguments."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Historic Offshore Wind Lease Sale in California Gets Over $750 Million in Winning Bids

"If we build on today's forward momentum, the United States can dramatically reduce its global warming emissions and become a global leader in renewable energy technologies like deep-water offshore wind."

Brett Wilkins ·


Solidarity Fund Up and Running for Designer Behind Iconic Bernie Sanders Posters

Tyler Evans "has dedicated his life to the progressive movement," says the GoFundMe created for the hospitalized designer. "Now it's our time to have Tyler's back when he and his family need it most."

Jessica Corbett ·


Journalism Defenders Push for Passage of 'Game-Changing' PRESS Act

"The PRESS Act is the most important free press legislation in modern times because it would finally stop the government from spying on journalists and threatening them with arrest for doing their jobs," explained one advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


New York Times Union Workers Planning Dec. 8 Walkout, Rally Over Pay

"Our collective action is working: Management backed off its attempt to kill our pension and agreed to expand fertility benefits," the union said of ongoing talks. "But management still barely budged on some of our most important priorities."

Jessica Corbett ·


Dems Back Blue Dog Spanberger for Swing District Post Over Progressive Cartwright

The corporate Democrat's path to victory was "pretty simple," said one progressive. "Matt Cartwright supports Medicare for All and Spanberger is a former CIA agent who spends all her time punching left."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo