GOP is in denial about the popularity of Biden's COVID relief

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Congressional Republicans are having trouble accepting that the $1.9 trillion plan is way more popular than they are.

Congressional Democrats passed the overwhelmingly popular $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan last week without a single Republican vote. Now the GOP minorities in the House and the Senate are having a hard time accepting their defeat.

The legislation, signed into law on Thursday by President Joe Biden, will provide a $1,400 relief check and more than $3,000 in tax cuts for the average American; expanded unemployment benefits; more than $125 billion to help schools return to in-person instruction; $350 billion for state and local governments; and tens of billions of dollars for coronavirus testing and vaccination.

According to a Morning Consult/Politico poll last week, 75% of all registered voters back the massive pandemic relief package, while just 18% oppose it. Among Republicans, 59% support the legislation and 35% do not.

Economists say the law will significantly boost the economy and massively reduce poverty, especially among children. On Sunday, Goldman Sachs boosted its prediction of growth in gross domestic product in the United States for 2021 to a 8%, specifically citing "the latest fiscal policy news" for its bullish expectations.

After unanimously opposing the popular relief plan, Republicans are now reacting in different — and sometimes contradictory — ways to their defeat.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell angrily blamed the American people's stupidity for the enormous popularity of the legislation on Thursday.

"I'm not surprised that the American public's initial reaction to this, before they know what's in it, would be positive," the Kentucky Republican told PBS. "I mean, the thought of many Americans getting a $1,400 check, why would they not like that?"

"I understand why the American people's initial response to this is positive. What they do not know is how much of the bill has nothing to do with the pandemic. Less than 1% of it deals with vaccinations. Only about 9% of it deals with health care," he inaccurately claimed.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio appeared to be in denial about the law's popularity on Saturday, dismissing the polls as "a joke."

"Public polls are only as accurate as the people doing them, the methodology they use and all that stuff," he told the Hill "There's a lot of, a trillion dollars of non-COVID stuff. When people find out about that, they're going to be outraged."

A CNN poll last week showed 85% of American adults back the tax credit provisions in the law, 77% support the school funding, and 59% support the funds for state and local governments.

McConnell also denied that the legislation will stimulate the economy, telling reporters on Wednesday, "The economy's coming back. People are getting vaccine. We're on the way out of this. We're about to have a boom. And if we do have a boom, it will have absolutely nothing to do with this $1.9 trillion."

The No. 3 Republican in the Senate as GOP conference chair, Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, lamented on Sunday the enactment of what he called "what is now known as the most progressive bill in the history of the United States, according to the White House."

"We are not gonna stand with the Democrats as they try to exploit a crisis to send lots of money to big cities and to blue states and to really failed pension plans. This is not supposed to be a bailout, it's supposed to be about helping get the disease behind us," he told ABC News.

Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, attempted to bargain with the American people, trying to convince them to oppose the legislation. He reportedly told his GOP colleagues last week that they would run ads to weaponize portions of the legislation against Democrats who voted for it.

"The $2 trillion stimulus package that President Biden signed into law today is a historic waste of money that not only puts our economy at risk of inflation but also reflects the increasingly liberal priorities of today's Democrat Party," Scott said in a Thursday press release announcing attack ads against Sens. Mark Kelly of Arizona and Raphael Warnock of Georgia.

At least one GOP lawmaker has accepted the legislation's popularity and tried to claim credit for provisions in it — despite having voted against the package.

Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker tweeted last week that he was proud that the law included a $28.6 billion provision, sponsored by him and Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, to assist restaurants hurt by the pandemic.

Florida Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar on Saturday also came under fire for taking credit for the Biden administration's actions to defer disaster loan repayments. Critics said her claims about a "bipartisan COVID relief bill" misleadingly suggested she had backed the popular $1.9 trillion plan.

A NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Thursday found that while 41% of Americans approve of the job the Democratic majorities in Congress are doing, just 28% approve of the GOP minority.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.