Republicans on the American Rescue Plan: We bungled this one

March 17, 2021

Republicans are starting to realize the danger in their votes to block President Biden’s overwhelmingly popular plan to deliver shots in arms, money in pockets, kids in schools, and people back in jobs.  

A bipartisan majority of Americans – including nearly half of Republicans and 69 percent of independents – support the American Rescue Plan.  Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans have struggled to justify their opposition to the relief package and, instead, are trying to distract the public with a “relentless focus on the culture wars du jour.”

Key points from Politico’s look at Republicans’ inability to smear the success of the American Rescue Plan:

  • None of the attack lines seemed to resonate with voters, who began receiving stimulus checks as early as last weekend and appear overwhelmingly supportive of the law.  A CBS-YouGov survey released on Sunday showed 71 percent of adults believe the American Rescue Plan will benefit the middle class more than wealthy Americans.
  • The Republican Party’s stumbles around the passage of the Covid-relief bill were, to a degree, a microcosm of the difficulties it has had finding its footing in the post-Trump era.  Indeed, some Republicans said their party was hamstrung in the relief bill fight by the fact that they had so recently supported bills that relied on deficit-spending and pushed similar provisions, like direct payments.
  • The Republican Party is planning rapid-fire pushback, but there’s little evidence so far that support for the legislation will diminish.  And Democrats note that whereas past bills — like the Affordable Care Act — contained delayed benefits, the cash payments in Biden’s package are immediate.
  • Asked about Republican critiques that the local government money was effectively a bailout of liberal cities like San Francisco, Jeff Williams, the mayor of Arlington, Texas, said the bill relies on an established and agreed-upon formula the federal government has used for decades.

Williams, a registered Republican, also likened the pandemic to a natural disaster, but instead of leveling homes and hollowing out businesses physically, it took a toll on the localities in an economic sense.

“We didn't say it was a bailout for Houston when they suffered the flood here,” Williams continued.  “Same thing for New Orleans when they were flooded in Hurricane Katrina.  We didn't say we were bailing New Orleans out.  Basically, what we're doing is taking care of a natural disaster and helping our cities, counties and states get back.”

Read the full story here.