Then, presidential candidate Joe Biden will speak for clean energy at a “Better Build Back” event on July 14, 2020. On Thursday, days before his inauguration as president, Biden unveiled an ambitious economic plan. Olivier Douliery / AFP via Getty Images Hide caption
Olivier Douliery / AFP via Getty Images
Olivier Douliery / AFP via Getty Images
Updated at 8 p.m. ET
President-elect Joe Biden has long promised to come up with an aggressive plan to tackle the raging coronavirus pandemic and the painful recession that has accompanied it.
He did just that on Thursday, proposing an ambitious $ 1.9 trillion relief plan, $ 1,400 stimulus checks, additional benefits for the unemployed, and hundreds of billions of dollars for businesses and local governments in trouble includes.
“The crisis of deep human suffering is in sight,” said Biden during a televised address six days before he took office. “There is no time to lose. We have to act and we have to act now.”
Biden’s plan comes just weeks after Congress passed a $ 900 billion relief plan that took weeks of painful negotiations. However, economists said the economy would need additional help as new coronavirus infections continue to rise and the daily death toll from COVID-19 tops 4,000.
The pandemic is dealing new blows to the US economy. More than 1.2 million Americans made new claims for unemployment benefits in the first week of the new year.
Here are some important aspects of the plan:
While newly approved vaccines offer hope for relief from the pandemic, Biden described the sluggish initial release of the shots as a “dire failure.”
The Trump administration has invested heavily in developing a vaccine, but has largely left distribution to the states. The number of shots fired so far has nowhere near reached the promised values.
“We have to move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated,” said Biden. “Mobilize more medical teams to get shots in people’s arms, increase vaccine supplies and get them out the door as soon as possible.”
Biden called for a $ 20 billion campaign to speed up vaccinations, including launching community vaccination centers across the country and mobile units to deliver the shots to hard-to-reach areas.
Policy makers and experts have said that long-term economic recovery is unlikely until the pandemic is under control.
“The most important economic policy in this area is health policy,” said Jerome Powell, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, on Thursday during a webcast with Princeton University. “It will gain control over the spread of the virus, which we have not been able to achieve with great success. But it is also developing medical innovations for treatment and ultimately vaccination.”
Biden’s plan also includes hiring an additional 100,000 public health workers and a more robust surveillance system to keep an eye out for new and challenging mutations in the virus.
Help for fighting Americans
The president-elect praised Congress for approving additional economic relief last month, but warned that it was just a “down payment.”
Biden will now urge lawmakers to spend big bucks on measures designed to cushion the economic fallout from the pandemic, including expanded unemployment benefits and additional direct payments to most Americans.
Actions he will propose include $ 1,400 in relief payments to most adults and children, on top of the $ 600 payments approved in December.
Congress voted last month to extend emergency unemployment benefits through March and increase those benefits by $ 300 per week. Biden’s plan would increase the additional benefits to $ 400 per week and extend them through September or longer if economic conditions warrant.
In mid-December, more than 18 million Americans were receiving some form of unemployment benefit. The economy regained just over half of the 22 million jobs lost in the spring, and the number of employees fell in December for the first time in eight months.
The plan would also extend a federal eviction moratorium through September and provide $ 30 billion in additional aid to ailing tenants.
Small business rescue, local government
Biden also proposed $ 350 billion in emergency funding for state and local governments – an idea that Republicans in Congress have so far rejected.
State and local governments have shed 1.3 million jobs since the pandemic began and have struggled financially as tax revenues fell while costs related to fighting the pandemic rose last year.
Biden’s plan also includes $ 15 billion in small business grants and $ 175 billion in seed capital for low-interest business loans.
The President-elect proposed that Congress pay special attention to restaurants and other personal businesses that have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic.
Look at the rest
Ultimately, Biden’s advisors characterized his proposal as a combination of “bailout” to address the immediate pain of the recession and “recovery” initiatives to address longer-term economic challenges.
The latter category includes his call for a minimum wage of $ 15 – a goal pushed by many Democrats but opposed by many Republicans – and increasing tax subsidies for families with children.
“We didn’t get into it overnight,” Biden said of the nation’s dual pandemic and recession challenges. “We’re not going to come out overnight. And we can’t do it as a separate, divided nation. The only way we can do it is to come together. As fellow Americans, to come together as neighbors.”