Biden’s Name Won’t Be on Checks

Is humility the wrong play here?

President Trump’s name famously appeared on the round of COVID stimulus checks issued during his administration. His successor won’t be following suit.

USA Today (“‘Not about him’: Biden’s name won’t appear on stimulus checks in shift from Donald Trump“):

The latest batch of stimulus checks that will be delivered to Americans in the coming weeks will look a little different from the two previous rounds.

The president’s signature will be missing.

President Joe Biden’s name will not appear on the checks, a departure from last year when then-President Donald Trump’s signature was included on the direct payments.

“We are doing everything in our power to expedite the payments and not delay them, which is why the president’s name will not appear on the memo line of this round of stimulus checks,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

“This is not about him,” she said. “This is about the American people getting relief.”

Josh Marshall observes, “It’s definitely the moral high ground not to put Joe Biden’s name on the big relief checks that are soon to go out. But I fear it’s a mistake.”

Betting against Joe Biden’s political instincts has not paid off lately and I’m not going to do so now. First, this seems exactly on-brand for Biden and his reputation for sheer decency is his greatest asset. Second, this latest payout is unlikely to influence anyone’s vote two or even four years out.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. mattbernius says:

    I am glad to see this return to normal. And like you James I am not going to bet against this decision.

    That said, my catty side does regret that instead of the President’s name the checks bore the message:

    “Total # of Republicans who voted to give you this help: 0 (including your Reps).”

  2. Paine says:

    This is a theme that Josh Marshall has hit on a few times over the past few months… a lesson from the Obama years. It’s not enough for Dems to govern effectively, they need to govern effectively and do a better job of communicating the results of their governance to the American voters. I bet that’s why he thinks not putting Biden’s name on the check is a mistake.

  3. Scott says:

    How many actual checks are we talking about? The vast, vast majority is direct deposit. The only Trump checks that people saw were the publicity shots for the White House coorespondents.

  4. Mu Yixiao says:

    This is a very smart move. The news outlets will make a big deal about it. The message that it’s from Biden is loud and clear, and he gets to stay with his humble persona.

  5. CSK says:

    @Scott:FWIW, the first check I received was direct-deposited. The second came by U.S. mail. Trump’s name may have been on it, but I paid no attention.

    His insistence on having his name on the check was just another instance of his desire to emblazon “Trump” on everything. Probably some saps thought the funds came directly from him–which of course is what he wanted.

  6. Michael Cain says:

    Every recipient in the first round got a letter signed by Trump, whether the money was direct-deposited or by check. As I recall, my wife and I got individual letters, even though we’ve filed our taxes jointly for 40 years.

  7. Lounsbury says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Yes indeed. Get it out there, but keep the branding. Don’t try to play the other guys game.

  8. gVOR08 says:

    Clear evidence that Biden is just a Harris sock puppet who won’t be allowed to run in 2024. They wanted to put her name on the checks, but realized that would give away the game.

    ETA /s just in case.

  9. Neil Hudelson says:

    It should be noted that, while it might be good PR, when Trump insisted his signature be on physical checks, it delayed the process and hurt people in need.

    I do hope the question is posed to Psaki, and she answers by highlighting that Biden sees his role as helping the American people, not hurting them for his own aggrandizement.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Much ado about nothing.

  11. Andy says:

    This seems to be one of those things that only politics-obsessed people care about. And I find the whole idea that whose signature is on a check matters in any way kind of stupid frankly.

    First of all, most people get their “checks” via electronic transfer. The argument that those who do receive paper checks care one whit about the signature, much less that it would affect their political leanings in any way, is dubious at best, and dumb condescension at worst.

  12. KM says:

    @gVOR08 :
    I still consider it one of the greatest fails of the internet age that no one has created a universal /s font or signifier like italics. Granted, I feel the printed world should have already had it built in to our printing language for the last few centuries but hey we don’t have to continue the failures of our ancestors. If Comic Sans can exist, so too can a good and easy to use /s font.

  13. Mu Yixiao says:


    There are actually a few out there. They just never caught on.

  14. CSK says:

    Well, it obviously mattered to Trump and his advisers that his signature was on the checks. To quote Stephen Mnuchin: “I think it’s a terrific symbol to the American public.”

  15. Andy says:


    Well, it obviously mattered to Trump and his advisers that his signature was on the checks. To quote Stephen Mnuchin: “I think it’s a terrific symbol to the American public.”

    Just because they believed it doesn’t make it any less stupid or less worthy of eyerolling.

  16. CSK says:

    Of course it doesn’t.
    Here’s Trump on the issue: “I’m sure people will be very happy to get a big fat beautiful check and my name on it.

  17. Michael Reynolds says:

    Trump understood one thing that every good fiction writer knows: never act out of character. For a character to act in ways that violate the essence of that character leads to a loss of interest in, and belief in, said character.

    Joe Biden the character would not put his name on the checks. So he shouldn’t.

  18. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Do you think Trump is capable of acting any way other than the way he does? On the few occasions when he’s been forced to apologize (the pussy tape, Charlottesville), he retracts it in one way or another. Nor can he bear to let an opportunity pass to inflate vastly his self-image.

    I’ll grant that Trump is consistent: He’s reliably a malevolent churl.

  19. Just nutha says:

    @Scott: this! My “check” came as a debit card. Only my name on it.

  20. Andy says:


    Here’s Trump on the issue: “I’m sure people will be very happy to get a big fat beautiful check and my name on it.“

    I know what Trump said. My question is: So what? This is an “issue” or “debate” that literally doesn’t matter at all.

  21. CSK says:

    James Joyner clearly felt it was worth some discussion. Why on earth are you getting so overwrought about this? If you don’t feel the topic is worthy of discussion, then don’t bother with the thread.

  22. Andy says:


    This is an imperfect medium. So let me be clear that I’m not being (or trying to be) overwrought. After all, I think the whole thing is inconsequential. From my perspective, it feels like it’s you that seems overwrought by repeatedly suggesting that it wasn’t inconsequential to Trump though it’s not clear to me why that is relevant to anything. Again, it’s an imperfect medium so I don’t know if that’s your intent, but that is how you’re coming across.

    Regarding your suggestion to just skip the thread, I thought this post was worthy of commenting on in order to share the opinion I shared. Furthermore, when commenting on this or any other topic, unless the hosts say otherwise, I’ll comment when and how I please.

  23. Joe says:

    Do you know who signs your money? I just looked at a $20 in my bill fold – it’s been there a while. There are two signatures on it and I can’t read either one of them. I would have to Wiki the positions in Trump’s government even to know who they were.

  24. Liberal Capitalist says:

    (Charlie Brown, looking into his bag)

    I got a rock.

    (yeah, but it’s OK. I make too much to get the assistance. And that’s as it should be.)