Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) speaks during a news conference outside of the Democratic National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, November 19, 2020.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) speaks during a news conference outside of the Democratic National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, November 19, 2020. (Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

AOC Warns Biden That Giving Relief Checks to Fewer People Than Trump Would Be Nonsensical 'Own-Goal'

"If anything we should be more generous, not more stingy," the New York lawmaker said to her fellow Democrats.

Jake Johnson

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday strongly pushed back against a move by Senate Democrats and President Joe Biden to further restrict the number of people who will receive direct payments under the emerging coronavirus aid package, warning the new eligibility structure would deny direct relief to people who received checks during Donald Trump's presidency.

"I don't understand the political or economic wisdom in allowing Trump to give more people relief checks than a Democratic administration. People went far too long without relief last year," the New York Democrat told the Washington Post's Jeff Stein. "If anything we should be more generous, not more stingy."

"I don't understand the political or economic wisdom in allowing Trump to give more people relief checks than a Democratic administration."
—Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

"It's also an insensitive compromise for the roughly 80% of Americans that live in urban areas, which are known for higher costs of living," Ocasio-Cortez added.

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), the new eligibility framework pushed by conservative Senate Democrats and accepted by the party leadership and the president would result in around 12 million fewer adults and five million fewer children receiving direct payments compared to the eligibility structure proposed by the House.

"We have a responsibility to show people in this country what a Democratic majority can do for working people," Ocasio-Cortez added. "That means more generous relief checks, $15 min wage, ending the filibuster to protect our democracy. It's a once-in-generation shot, and we need to legislate like it."

Under Senate Democrats' newly adopted framework, individuals earning $75,000 per year or less and married couples earning $150,000 or less—based on either 2019 or 2020 income—would still receive full $1,400 payments, but the checks would phase out more quickly for people whose earnings exceed those thresholds.

The new plan would completely deny payments to individuals earning more than $80,000 annually and married couples earning more than $160,000.

As the New York Times reported, "the change in the upper limit being discussed in the Senate, if adopted, would mean that some people who got a check during the Trump administration would not get one under Mr. Biden."

"Nearly nine million households that would have received at least some amount of payment under the House bill would not receive any payment at all," the Times noted, citing an estimate from tax modeling specialist Kyle Pomerleau of the American Enterprise Institute, a right-wing think tank.

Pomerleau said the eligibility change would slash around $15 to $20 billion off the top-line cost of the relief legislation, a small fraction of the $1.9 trillion total.

Brian Beutler, editor-in-chief of Crooked Media, called the eligibility rollback "an absurd, stupid decision," echoing Ocasio-Cortez's concern about the possible political consequences of millions of people being denied direct relief payments under Biden and a Democratic Congress after receiving checks under Trump.

"It should be pretty straightforward to tabulate the number of Democratic voters in Georgia who will not get their supplemental $1,400 checks under this plan, and compare it to the vote margins in the Ossoff and Warnock races," Beutler tweeted, referring to the two senators whose electoral victories in January handed Democrats control of the Senate.

"Or to be more precise," Beutler added, "the number of voters who will be getting no supplemental check at all who were supposed to get one somewhere on the sliding scale."

The change to the eligibility framework comes despite loud progressive warnings that excessively means testing direct relief amid a pandemic and economic crisis would be politically, economically, and morally foolish. Some analysts have argued Congress should approve universal checks and tax high earners on the back end, a proposal that Democratic lawmakers never put on the table.

"Further 'targeting' or 'tightening' eligibility means taking survival checks away from millions of families who got them last time," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, tweeted earlier this week. "That's bad policy and bad politics, too."


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

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo