One Republican Congressman says instead of sending stimulus checks to every qualifying American, direct payments should go to people who receive the coronavirus vaccine.
“I hope the administration will look at that option because we actually buy something with our $1,400 — and that’s herd immunity,” said Rep. Steve Stivers (R., Ohio) in an interview with Yahoo Finance Live.
President Joe Biden has called for individual $1,400 payments in his $1.9 trillion relief plan — which some Republicans argue is too much and some progressives say is too little. Stivers opposes additional stimulus checks as the proposal currently stands.
The Biden administration has said it prefers to pass a relief package in a bipartisan manner, but has not ruled out trying to push legislation through with only Democratic support. Some Republicans argue another $2 trillion plan isn’t necessary yet and adds too much to the national debt, just weeks after passing a $900 billion package.
“It should be debt for the right things,” said Stivers. “The quickest thing we need to do if we really want to help the American people, is get this economy turned back on — get people back to work, get kids back in school, get ourselves some herd immunity, get the vaccine distributed as quick as we can and get the uptake rate up. That's why I'd be willing to accept a $1,400 stimulus check if people are willing to take the vaccine.”
Stivers said there are opportunities for Republicans and Democrats to find common ground on a stimulus package — including infrastructure projects and giving state and local governments more time to spend previously allocated relief funding.
But another one of Biden’s campaign promises — raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans — is sure to start a partisan fight in Congress. Stivers argues Biden’s proposal to tax capital gains as ordinary income for high earners will hurt economic growth.
“There are other things I'm willing to look at and willing to have a conversation about, but I would not start with things like a capital gains tax increase,” said Stivers.
Jessica Smith is chief political correspondent for Yahoo Finance, based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.