As they blocked $2,000 survival checks, Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn argued that the money would enrich the wealthy — and that assertion has been echoed by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who has threatened to hold up the proposal because he says it does not adequately target benefits to those who need it most.
“I’m all for targeting the money,” Manchin told CNN this weekend. When host Jake Tapper asked if he would support sending checks to anyone who makes under $75,000, Manchin said: “Not carte blanche across the board.” He added that Congress has been “sending checks to people that basically already have a check and aren’t going to be able to spend that . . .”
But new data prove that rhetoric is bullshit: in fact, the survival checks would immediately deliver enormous benefits to the poorest Americans facing eviction, starvation, and bankruptcy.
In all, the bottom 60 percent of income earners — who made less than $65,000 in 2020 — “would see an average income increase of 11 percent by a $2,000 payment,” according to the report from the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). That compares with just a 3 percent increase with only the recently passed $600 checks.
Under House Democrats’ CASH Act, the poorest 20 percent of Americans — who make less than $21,300 — would receive the biggest boost of all: $2,000 checks would increase their income by roughly 29 percent.
In December, McConnell — who is worth an estimated $34 million — blocked the checks, insisting that “The Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of Democrats’ rich friends who don’t need the help.”
ITEP data shows that the proposal would deliver more than $4 billion worth of aid to Kentuckians making less than $60,000 a year.
The checks would deliver a 33 percent boost to the income of the poorest 20 percent of households in McConnell’s state.
Similarly, Cornyn asserted that the checks are “about helping millionaires and billionaires.”
In Cornyn’s home state of Texas, $2,000 survival checks would deliver roughly $30 billion to ten million adults who make less than $62,000. The checks would give the average Texan in the bottom 20 percent of income earners a 25 percent boost in their income.
Meanwhile, in Manchin’s state of West Virginia, 80 percent of the population makes less than $86,600. Those households would receive a combined total of $2.5 billion from the checks — and the bottom 20 percent of West Virginia income earners would see a 33 percent boost in their income.
In all three states — as in the entire country as a whole — the richest 1 percent would receive no benefits from the checks.