President Biden on Friday showed no inclination towards pumping the brakes on pushing his COVID-19 relief through Congress so that he could continue negotiations with the GOP lawmakers who are advocating for a much smaller package.
“They’re just not willing to go as far as I think we have to go,” Biden said of the Hill Republicans who have countered his $1.9 trillion proposal with one a third of that size. He made his remarks from the White House after meeting with Democratic House leaders.
Biden was forceful in saying he won’t get bogged down in a months-long negotiation or compromise with a bill that’s insufficient to meet the current crisis. “I am going to help the American people who are hurting now,” he said.
Biden’s comments came after the Senate kickstarted the so-called reconciliation process that, by circumventing a filibuster, will allow a COVID-19 response bill to move along without Republican support.
“What Republicans have proposed is either to do nothing or not enough,” Biden said, adding that he could not in “good conscience” go along with the GOP push to spend less. He also seemed to slap away concerns raised in a Thursday op-ed by Larry Summers, President Obama’s Treasury secretary, that the White House was overestimating what it would cost to address the COVID 19 outbreak’s economic consequences.
“The biggest is risk is not going too big, it’s if we go to small,” Biden said. He argued that by not spending enough, the Obama administration’s 2009 response package to the economic crisis prolonged the recovery.
His comments included some sharp words for the Republicans criticizing the cost of his proposals after going along with the deficit spending that happened under the Trump administration, including with GOP tax cuts that will cost the government trillions of dollars.
“All of the sudden, many of them have rediscovered fiscal restraint and the concern for the deficits,” Biden said. “But don’t kid yourself. This approach will come with a cost: more pain, for more people, for longer than it has to be.”