It was something that happened so often during the Donald Trump presidency that it eventually became a cliche: Reporters from major newspapers visiting small towns and other areas in the Midwest or South that voted for Trump, and finding that those who supported Trump in 2016 almost certainly still did months or years later.
The Washington Post published a piece this week showing that this type of feature has outlasted the Trump presidency itself.
The Post went to Monroe County, in the Southeastern part of Ohio. In the town of Woodsfield, the reporter spoke to Trump voters specifically about the American Rescue Plan Act, which was passed earlier this year and was signed by President Biden. It was an entirely Democratic piece of legislation, which passed along party lines, but it also included stimulus checks, which is also something that Trump put through twice in 2020.
One man interviewed by the newspaper said he wasn’t sure whether to accept the stimulus check from the Rescue Plan, but he ultimately did, in order to fix up his home. But at the same time, that man blamed the Biden stimulus package for inflation.
Those in that much-impoverished area of the country were clear with the Post that while the payments passed under Biden had helped them, they feel that the legislative package itself was a mistake, while also arguing that the Rescue Plan has disincentivized work. Also, there were concerns that “the undeserving are exploiting the system,” the newspaper said.
“My God-honest opinion was at first that it was nice that the government was helping people,” a 50-year-old Ohio told the Post in the article. “But since we got that, everything has went up, so how is that helping people out?”
Another man interviewed credited Trump, not Biden, with the stimulus payments, since Trump had passed the two during his time in office.
Some business owners acknowledged that stimulus checks have helped consumers spend, while others cautioned that they blame the stimulus for an ongoing labor shortage.
One elected official, meanwhile, said that he would prefer that money go directly to local governments, rather than to individuals. The Rescue Plan stimulus, of course, also offered billions of dollars in that exact type of aid.
“There is certainly going to be an influx of money coming into areas where there hasn’t been that before,” Gayle Manchin, the Biden-appointed chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission and the wife of West Virginia senator Joe Manchin, told the Post. “And I think people will begin to see proof of that as these communities and families begin to see these improvements in their quality of life. . . . This is not a sprint. It’s a marathon.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.