An exasperated Chris Hayes on Wednesday railed at moderate Democrats who back a plan to lower the earnings threshold for COVID-19 relief payments the Biden administration is supporting, saying no one on the left should be advocating for reducing payments to their voters.
The MSNBC host was referencing reports about an agreement between some Senate Democrats and President Joe Biden to begin phasing out $1,400 direct payments to Americans at $75,000 for individuals, while setting $80,000 as the eligibility cap. Meanwhile, the phase-out begins for couples filing joint tax returns and making $150,000 with the cap set at $160,000.
Overall, the change means that some 17 million fewer Americans would be eligible to receive any relief money at all, according to an analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The House-passed version of the bill capped incomes at $100,000 per individual and $200,000 per couple.
Under both versions of the bill, the bottom 60 percent of earners would receive a check.
Senate Republicans have universally opposed the bill, overall, because of its $1.9 trillion price tag and because so little of the money actually goes towards COVID relief. One GOP analysis found that just 9 percent of the money goes towards relief.
“With a one-party monopoly of Washington, Democrats are back to their old spending games. Most of the 1.9 trillion dollars within the Democrats’ ‘COVID’ package has absolutely nothing to do with COVID,” Sen. Joni Ernst said Wednesday.
With the Senate evenly divided at 50-50, all Democrats would need to support the legislation in order for it to pass with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker.
Nevertheless, Hayes blasted moderate Dems for agreeing to the lower payments.
“Why on Earth would you take steps to make it less effective and less popular?” Hayes began. “And yet today that is exactly what Senate Democrats were insisting on.”
He noted that many Americans who will be affected will now “get less in direct cash assistance from President Biden than they did from Donald Trump,” noting the latest compromise on the bill involving Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
“Cut Joe Manchin a ton of slack, alright. The guy got re-elected in West Virginia, it’s like the Trumpiest state in the union,” Hayes said, acknowledging Manchin’s precarious political position in serving a deep red state.
“But explain this one to me. It’s not even like there’s some obvious, lobbying reason, like the big donors don’t want this to happen. There’s not a political reason,” he continued. “This is not some fraught issue like abortion or guns. There’s no group out there that is single-mindedly focused on making sure that people who make $85,000 a year don’t get a check during the pandemic. Who cares? Who’s opposing that?”
The host went on to say that the Democratic Party made inroads with young, urban, college-educated voters during the last election cycle, and now many of them will be cut out of receiving a check under the new, lower earnings cap.
“A lot of those people are the people making the amount that are now going to get shut out of stimulus checks,” Hayes said. “There is nothing more than a reflexive, almost neurotic, compulsive desire to signal moderation by making things worse both substantively and politically.
“I have personally watched his neurosis in the Democratic Party for the 20 years I’ve covered politics. Much of it has been banished and wrung out, but what on Earth are you thinking?” he said.
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