Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) reportedly complained during a call with Biden administration officials that the president’s proposed $1,400 direct relief payments are not “targeted” enough.
Common Dreams noted that critics dismissed Collins’ argument “as absurd and cynical given her 2017 vote for tax cuts that disproportionately benefited wealthy Americans.”
Politico reported late Sunday that Collins "pressed the Biden officials on why families making $300,000 would be eligible" for direct payments under Biden's $1.9 trillion relief plan and "urged a focus on lower-income workers."
"I was the first to raise that issue, but there seemed to be a lot of agreement... that those payments need to be more targeted," Collins told Politico in an interview following the Sunday call, which was joined by more than a dozen lawmakers from both parties.
If Biden models his direct payments plan after the House-passed CASH Act, only individuals with incomes of $75,000 or less per year and couples with a combined annual income of $150,000 or less would receive the full $1,400 check.
Commons Dreams noted that the payments would start phasing out for people whose incomes are above the thresholds, adding that “under the CASH Act, married couples with a combined annual income of $300,000 and two or more children would have been eligible for some money.”
But according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, less than one percent of the benefits of the CASH Act would have gone to the top five percent of the income distribution. By contrast, 52% of the benefits of the $1.5 trillion tax bill that Collins happily voted for in 2017 went to the top five percent in 2020.
"Weird that Susan Collins didn't care so much about the 'rich people getting more than they need' issue when it was massive upper income tax cuts on the table," New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie tweeted sardonically.
Ashley Schapitl, a spokesperson for Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), echoed that point, noting that "Senate Republicans' tax bill showered billions of dollars on actual billionaires."
The Biden administration is working to bring Republicans on board with the relief package, though many have already said they believe it is too expensive, the publication noted.
Still, the “$1.9 trillion in spending the president has proposed is well below what experts say is necessary to reverse the ongoing economic collapse.”