Former President Donald Trump‘s administration paved the way for the federal government to quickly deliver the $1,400 stimulus checks in President Joe Biden‘s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan by leaving behind a massive cash pile in preparation for further relief spending.
Under the Trump administration, then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin preemptively increased government borrowing and amassed well over $1 trillion, according to Politico. The rainy-day fund was accumulated in advance of possible future relief measures due to the uncertainty of the economy amid the pandemic.
“Early on in the Covid crisis, I made sure we always had ample funds on hand to be prepared for any needed economic response,” Mnuchin told the outlet in an email.
As Americans started to receive the $1,400 stimulus checks in their bank accounts this weekend, some expressed surprise at how quickly the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) were able to deliver the first batch of direct payments.
“Well, that was fast! Stimulus check has arrived and didn’t crash my online banking this time!” tweeted Sara Ackerson of Portland, Oregon.
In addition to ensuring that the checks went out fast, the cash pile left by Trump also means that the Treasury may not need to ramp up borrowing to pay for Biden’s sprawling relief legislation.
“There are enormous implications for everyone else, but the Treasury was out in front of this nine months ago,” said Lou Crandall, chief economist at research firm Wrightson ICAP.
The House narrowly passed the stimulus package largely along party lines in a 220-211 final vote earlier this week, with all Republicans and one Democrat—Rep. Jared Golden of Maine—opposing the bill. Biden signed the measure into law on Thursday afternoon.
Over the past week, Republicans have ramped up their attacks at the high price tag attached to the relief spending. However, the massive cash pile left by Trump shows that his own administration had anticipated that the economy would likely need another massive boost.
Recent polling shows that the stimulus package has gained significant bipartisan support among voters. A Wednesday Morning Consult/Politico poll found that 74 percent of voters, including 59 percent of Republicans supported the bill. A February Quinnipiac University survey found that the $1,400 direct payments were the most popular provision among GOP voters, with 64 percent supporting it.
“The thought of many Americans getting a $1,400 check, why would they not like that?” he said. “What they do not know is how much of the bill has nothing to do with the pandemic.”
Newsweek reached out to McConnell’s office for comment.