'Another spending blowout': Senate Republicans turned up their criticism of Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus plan during Janet Yellen's confirmation hearing
- Republicans launched attacks against the Biden
stimulusplan during the Yellen confirmation hearing on Tuesday.
- Sen. Chuck Grassley called it a "laundry list of liberal structural economic reforms."
- The hearing likely presages the staunch opposition many parts of Biden's economic agenda will encounter on Capitol Hill.
Senate Republicans ratcheted up their criticism of President-elect
During the confirmation hearing for Janet Yellen - Biden's pick for treasury secretary - Republicans tried putting her on the defensive on Biden's $1.9 trillion economic aid plan.
The president-elect introduced it last week. It contains measures like
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the outgoing chair of the Senate Finance Committee, assailed the plan as a "laundry list of liberal structural economic reforms" in his introductory remarks.
Then Republicans started launching broadsides against it.
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranked Republican in the chamber, said he was concerned about "the massive amount of debt we are racking up" and urged lawmakers against downplaying it in the months ahead. It swelled throughout President Donald Trump's term as Republicans enacted a large tax cut for corporations in 2017.
Yellen also challenged arguments from Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina that a $15 minimum wage - a key provision in the plan - would cause massive job losses. She pointed to a large body of research that indicates in neighboring states where one raises the hourly wage and the other doesn't, job losses are "very minimal" in the state that did lift pay for workers.
Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana criticized the inclusion of another wave of $1,400 stimulus payments. He said it represents an ineffectual relief measure because people who hadn't lost jobs would also receive the federal cash.
Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, warned of "another spending blowout" as a result of Biden's economic stewardship. He also told Yellen: "I look forward to working with you but I have to admit that the contours of the stimulus bill as proposed by the Biden administration are going to make that difficult."
The hearing likely presages the staunch opposition many parts of Biden's economic agenda will encounter among Republicans on Capitol Hill. Last year,
Since Biden's victory, Republicans have voiced renewed alarm over the budget deficit, despite their support of tax cuts and spending increases that swelled it during Trump's presidency.
The Senate is expected to confirm Yellen this week since her appointment has drawn bipartisan support. As treasury secretary, Yellen will serve a crucial role shepherding the administration's plans through a divided Congress. Democrats will have very slim majorities in both the House and Senate.
Yellen defended the massive amount of spending that Biden is seeking. She argued the economic recovery was imperiled unless Congress swiftly acted to approve more federal aid to mitigate the devastation caused by the pandemic, particularly among women and minority communities - a viewpoint many economists share.
She also sought to assuage Republican alarm over the prospect of tax hikes during an economic downturn, given raising rates on wealthy individuals forms a core part of the Biden economic agenda.
"The focus right now is on providing relief and on helping families keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, and not on raising taxes," she said.
The president-elect has vowed, however, that people earning under $400,000 would not experience a tax increase.
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