Jared Bernstein, a member of President Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers, claimed that passing the next round of coronavirus relief legislation is so important that Americans are not concerned with how it happens.
Biden, who supports a $1.9 trillion package, is facing opposition from Republicans, who prefer a leaner, more targeted approach. While the president has pushed a message of unity in the early days of his administration, some Democratic lawmakers are looking to keep Republicans out of the process if they do not get on board.
“Look, the American people really couldn’t care less about budget process, whether it’s regular order, bipartisanship, whether it’s filibuster, whether it’s reconciliation,” Bernstein told “Fox News Sunday,” stressing that people “need relief and they need it now.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who will be heading the Senate Budget Committee, has said that Democrats can push their relief plan through the budget without Republicans via a process known as reconciliation. That process, which is reserved for tax and fiscal matters, is not subject to the filibuster and therefore allows for Democrats to pass their plan with their 50 senators and Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote.
“If Republicans are willing to work with us to address that crisis, welcome – let’s do it,” Sanders told CNN last Sunday. “But what we cannot do is wait weeks and weeks and months to go forward. We’ve got to act now.”
Bernstein said that Biden is “willing to negotiate” with Republicans, as a group of 10 GOP senators announced support Sunday for a $600 billion package, but claimed that part of why it is so urgent to pass relief is to avoid a spike in unemployment.
“If we don’t get this package as designed out the door quickly, we risk having four million fewer jobs at the end of this year,” he said, citing Moody’s, adding that failure to act swiftly would “risk taking a year longer to get to full employment.”
Challenging the administration’s concern for unemployment, host Chris Wallace asked why Biden is choosing now to push a climate change agenda that has already resulted in thousands of lost jobs. Through executive action, the president has halted work on the Keystone XL pipeline, and he is banning future gas and oil leases on federal lands.
Bernstein claimed that this is merely in accordance with where the market is already leaning, and will result in future jobs.
“Not only are there many more jobs in the climate agenda,” Bernstein said, “but this is something where the market is already moving in this direction.”
Bernstein cited General Motors’ push to move toward battery-powered cars.
Meanwhile, Republicans such as Montana Gov. Gianforte and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have criticized Biden for taking action that has serious consequences right now. Gianforte lamented the tax revenue that will now be lost. Cruz has grilled Biden’s candidate picks over the pipeline decision, which is estimate to result in 11,000 lost jobs. Any possible employment gains are merely projections that would not necessarily give jobs to the same people who are losing them now, he has said.
Bernstein pressed the notion that the U.S. will ultimately see “four million more jobs” if Congress passes the president’s agenda.