Stimulus Stymied? Manchin’s Office Walks Back Opposition to Another Round of Payments

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Shortly after the Washington Post reported the West Virginia Democrat had said Friday he would “absolutely not” support a new round stimulus payments, Senator Joe Manchin’s office has said that he is not necessarily opposed to the payments called for by President-elect Joe Biden.

Asked about stimulus checks in an interview with the Washington Post, Manchin reportedly said: “Absolutely not. No. Getting people vaccinated, that’s job No. 1.”

A spokesperson for Manchin told CNBC that “absolutely not” was a denial that stimulus checks should be the top priority for the new administration. But Manchin remains open to more payments and will consider the idea when it comes before the Senate, CNBC reported, citing a spokesperson for the Senator.

Manchin reportedly said he would be more likely to support a relief package targeted at people who have lost their jobs rather than a program that sent payments to most Americans. Many other Senators have also complained that stimulus payment programs are too broad and should be narrowly targeted to those most in need of money to replace lost income.

Economists who favor broader stimulus payment programs say these can prevent a decline in demand at times of economic turmoil, offsetting decisions by households to save more of their income to bolster household finances in anticipation of tougher times ahead. A narrowly tailored program aimed only at the unemployed would not support spending from households that pre-emptively cut back.

Stocks dropped from all-time highs after the Washington Post‘s report of Manchin’s remarks broke. Many investors had assumed that Democrat control of the Senate following the sweep in the Georgia run-offs guaranteed a new round of stimulus payments.

They then began to rebound on reports that the initial report did not accurately reflect the Senator’s thinking.
“How is the money that we invest now going to help us best to get jobs back and get people employed? And I can’t tell you that sending another check out is gonna do that to a person that’s already got a check,” Manchin said, according to the Washington Post.

NBC News National Political reporter also reported that Manchin was not “drawing a red line” against another round of payments.