The last time a Democratic administration tried to push through a major economic stimulus in a time of crisis, painstaking negotiations with Republicans resulted in a watered-down compromise. Now, President Biden and the Democratic Party are looking to go big — and potentially go it alone — on a massive stimulus package.
Biden has met with Republican senators and stated his desire to get their votes on his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, meant to help battle both the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic damage it’s done to millions of Americans. However, both the new president and Democratic leaders in Congress are moving forward with a process called reconciliation that would allow them to pass much of the relief plan without a single Republican vote.
Both the size of the package and their approach to gaining GOP votes are departures from how the Obama White House and congressional Democrats handled the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
“The way I see it, the biggest risk is not going too big, it’s if we go too small,” Biden said Friday. “We’ve been here before. When this nation hit the Great Recession that Barack and I inherited in 2009, I was asked to lead the effort on the economic recovery act to get it passed. It was a big recovery package, roughly $800 billion. I did everything I could to get it passed, including getting three Republicans to change their votes and vote for it. But it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t quite big enough. It stemmed the crisis, but the recovery could have been faster and even bigger. Today we need an answer that meets the challenge of this crisis, not one that falls short.”
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