WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. proposed a $ 1.9 trillion bailout Thursday to help combat the economic downturn and Covid-19 crisis. He outlined the type of full-blown aid Democrats have been asking for for months and signaled the government’s postponement of the federal pandemic response as Mr Biden prepares for office.
The package includes more than $ 400 billion to fight the pandemic head-to-head, including money to expedite vaccine use and safely reopen most schools within 100 days. Another $ 350 billion would help state and local governments bridge budget deficits, while the plan would also include $ 1,400 in direct payments to individuals, more generous unemployment benefits, state-mandated paid vacation for workers, and large subsidies for childcare costs.
“During this pandemic, through no fault of their own, millions of Americans have lost the dignity and respect that come with a job and a paycheck,” Biden said in a speech to the nation. “There is real pain that overwhelms the real economy.”
He acknowledged the high price, but said the nation could not afford to do less. “Our nation’s health is at stake,” Biden said, adding that it “isn’t cheap, but if we don’t, it will cost us a lot of money.”
At a time of national crisis and the day after President Trump’s impeachment in the House of Representatives, Mr Biden took swift action to set the agenda. While it reflects political change in Washington as the Democrats take control of Congress, support for Mr Biden’s program will immediately face challenges, starting with the possibility that a Senate trial of Mr Trump could delay his passage.
It is also unclear how easily Mr Biden can get enough votes for a plan with such ambitions and costs, especially in the Senate. Democratic victories in two special elections in Georgia last week gave Mr Biden’s party control over the Senate – but only with a 50-50 advantage after the decisive vote by elected Vice President Kamala Harris. Mr Biden must compensate all defective moderate Democrats with Republican votes in a time of tight bipartisanism.
Mr Biden said that lawmakers must come together for the good of the country and that “Unity is not a dream in heaven – it is a practical step in achieving the things we as a country need to do together.”
His speech on Thursday came at an incredibly challenging moment as the number of viruses continues to rise, millions of workers are being phased out, and American partisan divisions threaten to tear them apart. A week after a mob stormed the Capitol to disrupt Congressional confirmation of Mr. Biden’s victory, Washington is like an armed camp, with steel barricades erected across the city and armed law enforcement officers patrolling the streets.
More than 20,000 National Guardsmen are expected to flood Washington before Mr. Biden is sworn in on January 20th.
The economic recovery from the pandemic recession has also reversed in the face of the winter surge in the virus and new waves of restrictions on economic activity in cities and states.
The Department of Labor reported Thursday that 1.15 million Americans filed new jobless claims in the first full week of the new year, up 25 percent from the previous week. Another 284,000 applications have been filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal emergency program for workers and freelancers who are normally not eligible for unemployment benefits. The nation cut 140,000 jobs in December, the department reported last week.
Mr. Biden’s aides say the urgency of the moment has led the president-elect to propose a far bigger economic upturn than the Obama administration pushed for when it took office in a 2009 recession. The Biden Proposal is more than 50 percent bigger than the Obama – Enhance the post-inflation incentive and add to the trillion-dollar economic aid that Congress approved under Mr. Trump last year.
The package reflected the scale of the challenge facing the country’s economy and health system. In a briefing Thursday, a Biden official noted that existing national planning and infrastructure for mass vaccination and testing was far less developed than the incoming White House team expected.
Mr Biden outlined his so-called American bailout plan in an evening speech in Delaware, effectively kicking off his presidency and placing it in the brightest spotlight since his nomination speech at the Democratic National Convention last summer.
The president-elect adopted an urgent but optimistic tone, saying the United States could meet its current challenges.
“For all the danger of this moment, I want you to know that I see the promise,” said Mr. Biden. “I’m more optimistic than ever.”
The plan has received praise from progressive groups as well as the country’s leading business lobby, the US Chamber of Commerce, which has often been at odds with the Obama administration on spending and regulations. “We applaud the president-elect’s focus on vaccinations as well as on economic sectors and families that continue to suffer as the pandemic rages on,” the chamber said in a statement.
Republicans have been largely silent on the plan, which includes the type of state and local aid that became a sticking point in the economic negotiations last year. Congress could only agree on a $ 900 billion package in December after such aid was ruled out. However, Mr Biden explained his reasons for taking on such funding, saying it was important to avoid cuts and layoffs, which would hold back the fight against the virus and further damage the economy.
“Millions of people who are putting their lives at risk are the very people who are now at risk of losing their jobs: police officers, firefighters, all first responders, nurses, educators,” said Biden.
Mr Biden’s “bailout” proposal, which would be funded entirely by increased federal borrowing, rests on the idea that virus and recovery are intertwined and that the economy cannot recover without the use of mass vaccines.
“What the economy needs is a successful introduction of vaccines and a reduction in the risks of social and economic activities,” said Aaron Sojourner, labor economist at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management who served on the White House Economic Council advisers among the advisers Obama and Trump administrations. “This will go a long way toward promoting recovery. It won’t go all the way, but it will go a long way. “
Mr. Biden who promised to get “100 million Covid vaccine Shots In The Arms Of The American People “On his 100th day in office, he said last week that he intended to release almost all available coronavirus vaccine bottles upon taking office, rather than withhold some as the Trump administration had done.
The $ 20 billion “national immunization program” announced on Thursday provides for community immunization centers across the country. In recent speeches, he said he would like to see mass vaccination sites in high schools, sports stadiums and the like that may be manned by the National Guard or Federal Emergency Management Agency staff.
Mr. Biden also called for a “Public Health Jobs Program,” which aims to address its goals of strengthening the economy and response to Covid-19 while rebuilding the country’s fragile public health infrastructure. The proposal would fund 100,000 public health workers to obtain vaccines and track down contacts.
At the same time, Mr. Biden is interested in addressing the racial differences that have been so painfully exposed by the coronavirus pandemic that has disproportionately claimed the lives and work of people of color. He pledged to increase funding for community health centers and fund efforts to contain the pandemic in prisons and prisons where blacks and Latinos are over-represented.
In his remarks, Mr Biden lamented a “growing hunger crisis”, particularly among minority communities, and said: “More than one in five black and Latin American households in America report that they do not have enough to eat. It is wrong. It’s tragic. This is unacceptable. “
He suggested a wide range of efforts to help those who have suffered most from the economic retreat. His plan would give 106 million Americans, regardless of the size of their employer, emergency paid vacation leave, a proposal many Republicans in Congress were working on to cut back on a stimulus package passed last spring. And it would give many families tax credits to offset annual childcare costs of up to $ 8,000.
It offers billions in rental subsidies and would provide grants to millions of the hardest hit small businesses. In addition, two tax credits are being temporarily increased to effectively provide more money from the government to low-income workers and families. And it would extend the expanded unemployment benefit until the end of September with an additional $ 400 weekly surcharge.
Mr Biden also called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, a priority he set out during his campaign.
Mr Biden plans to come up with another, larger set of spending proposals in February, and he began laying the foundations for funding those efforts through tax hikes for the business and wealthy. He drew a sharp contrast between the plight of low-wage workers and those struggling with the richest Americans without a paycheck, saying there is “a growing gap between the few people at the top who are doing reasonably well in this economy – and the rest of America. “
“Since this pandemic started, wealth for the top 1 percent has grown by roughly $ 1.5 trillion since late last year – four times the amount for the entire bottom 50 percent,” he said.
The second package is expected to focus on job creation and infrastructure, including spending hundreds of billions of dollars on clean energy projects such as electric vehicle charging stations, and spending on health care and education.
Mr Biden has said he will work to build Republican support for his plans and it will take 10 Republican Senate votes to overcome a filibuster. But top Democrats in the House and Senate are preparing to move quickly to a parliamentary process known as budget balancing in case they can only get a simple majority in the Senate. Republicans used the process to bypass a filibuster and approve the 2017 tax cuts that Trump signed.
Republicans’ refusal to consider a stimulus package of more than $ 1 trillion kept the size of the last bill passed in December to ease Congress down. Mr Biden’s advisors said Thursday they were confident that the nearly $ 2 trillion package he proposed could be implemented at a time when interest rates remain low and many economists are telling lawmakers to cut spending to get that Promoting economic growth would have widespread support from the Democrats.
Sheryl Gay Stolberg Contribution to reporting.