President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled his inaugural offer of Covid-19 aid and economic recovery: a $ 1.9 trillion stimulus agreement to help the United States address the health and economic crises caused by the pandemic .
The proposal, known as the American Rescue Plan, is broken down into three areas: $ 400 billion to deal with the coronavirus, including vaccines and testing; $ 1 trillion in direct aid to families; and $ 400 billion for communities and businesses. It includes money for tests, vaccines, and public health workers. $ 400 per week for federal expanded unemployment insurance through September; Rental support; paid emergency leave; and funding for reopening schools, among others.
And as the Democrats promised in the Georgia election campaign, Biden's plan would send out an additional $ 1,400 in stimulus checks, bringing the grand total to $ 2,000 this year.
"We need to address the public health and economic crises we are facing directly," Biden said in a tweet Thursday. "That's why I'm announcing my American rescue plan today. Together we will change the course of the pandemic, build a bridge to economic recovery and invest in racial justice."
The new government in Biden divides its approach to the economy into two phases: rescue and recovery. This is the "rescue part" the equation to address the immediate crisis. The details on the rescue plank are still pending.
Legislators have already passed two major Covid-19 relief bills, including the $ 2.2 trillion CARES bill in March and another $ 900 billion in December. Biden's proposal is a continuation of those proposals and signals a fairly ambitious push to fight the pandemic and the economy – although the plan is likely to change before it is incorporated into law, if at all.
Overall, this is a big deal. The $ 1.9 trillion that Biden is proposing is more than double the $ 800 billion that the Democrats passed in 2009 after the great recession. The size and scope of this proposal reflect some teachings Democrats have learned: in 2009, many lawmakers believed they had a chance at another bill to provide more aid, but they never did did. And so the recovery was slower and more uneven than it could have been if they had been more ambitious from the start.
With this in mind, many Democrats and progressives plan to move the Biden government and leaders of Congress to go further. Increasingly, her mantra is that the real risk is too little – not too much.
“When the Democrats passed the Restoration Act in 2009, it was smaller than necessary, and many members thought there would be another bite of the apple. That didn't exist, ”said a Democratic adviser. "Members who were there during this time are very much aware of this lesson."
What Biden wants for the economy
Biden's proposal for the US rescue plan focuses primarily on immediate relief: measures needed to help the country deal with the pandemic and its economic aftermath. After all, normalizing the economy depends on the virus being brought under control, which at this point means getting as many people as possible vaccinated as soon as possible.
Here is an overview of some of Biden's suggestions:
A national vaccination program and advanced testing. Biden is pushing for $ 20 billion to be invested in a national immunization program in partnership with states, locations, tribes and territories, including setting up community immunization centers and mobile immunization centers. He also advocates $ 50 billion Expansion of tests, including rapid tests, expansion of laboratory capacity, and support for schools and local governments. And he's pushing for an additional $ 10 billion to supply domestic pandemic supplies and $ 30 billion to the Disaster Relief Fund for relief supplies and protective equipment.
A public health employment program and means to address health inequalities. Biden's proposal is to fund 100,000 healthcare workers to expand the public healthcare workforce. He also wants to increase funding for health services for underserved populations and those living in communities like nursing homes.
Money for reopening schools. Biden's proposal provides $ 130 billion to reopen schools safely, $ 35 billion to fund higher education, and $ 5 billion to support education programs for those hardest hit by Covid-19.
Paid emergency leave: Biden is calling for changes that his team says will expand paid sick leave to 106 million Americans, including renewing employers' expired vacation leave obligations and expanding emergency paid leave for federal employees.
Larger stimulus tests. Biden suggests adding $ 1,400 to the final round of stimulus checks so they total $ 2,000. His plan also extends the eligibility for checks on adults excluded from previous rounds and on households with mixed immigration status.
Extended unemployment insurance. Under the current stimulus packages, unemployed people are entitled to additional $ 300 weekly unemployment benefit through March 14th. Biden's plan increases that amount to $ 400 by September, and extends the benefits to include those who have exhausted the benefits or are normally not eligible, such as contractors or freelancers.
Home help. The president-elect's plan is to extend the eviction and foreclosure moratoria through September, allocating $ 30 billion in rental support and $ 5 billion in emergency aid to secure housing for the homeless.
Food benefits. The plan is to extend the 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits through September, invest $ 3 billion in the special nutritional supplement program for WIC, and provide $ 1 billion in nutritional aid to the U.S. Territories.
Childcare. The plan provides a $ 25 billion emergency stabilization fund for childcare workers and an additional $ 15 billion for the childcare and development block's grand program.
Tax credits for children and low-income workers. The plan expands the child tax credit – another important one for Democrats – to $ 3,000 per child up to age 17 and $ 3,600 for children under 6. He also increases the earned income tax credit from approximately $ 530 to $ 1,500 and expands the eligibility.
Small business support. Biden proposes $ 15 billion in grants for hard-hit small businesses and $ 35 billion in government funding for $ 175 billion in loans and small business investments.
Support to state and local governments. Biden's plan calls for Congress to allocate $ 350 billion to state, local, and territorial governments. It is thought of as money that will help pay frontline workers, reopen schools, and get people vaccinated. She also calls for $ 20 billion for public transportation and $ 20 billion in support of tribal governments' pandemic response.
A minimum wage of $ 15. Biden's proposal calls on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour and end the minimum wage and minimum wage for people with disabilities. It also asks employers to make a risk payment.
This is an opening offer and some Democrats want to get bigger
Biden's proposal is likely just the beginning of a democratic debate on how to strengthen the country's public health crisis response and economic recovery. More than nine months after the pandemic, thousands of people are dying from Covid-19 every day, and millions of people are still unemployed.
"Given the urgency of the moment, I think there is a good case for doing as much as possible as soon as possible and continuing to push for more," said Angela Hanks, associate director of the progressive group Groundwork Collaborative, which published a The Estimate ahead of last month's stimulus package suggests it will take $ 3 to 4.5 trillion to really get the economy going.
Discussions are taking place among democrats and progressives in and outside the legislative process about how more can be done. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) sent a letter to Biden urging his government to include "baby bonds" in a stimulus package. "We urge you to 'make it big' with a bold vision for racial and economic justice," they wrote, arguing that baby bonds, which would create government-funded savings accounts for every child in America, are "a one-off event" – generational opportunity to fill the racial wealth gap and open economic opportunities for every American. "
Student debt relief – an increasingly important issue on the left – is missing from Biden's plan. Biden has said he is helping Congress cancel $ 10,000 student debt, but that's not on Thursday's proposal. He has come under pressure, including from many Democrats in the House and Senate, to cut up to $ 50,000 in student debt.
That's not the only thing Biden can do on his own. If he can't get Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $ 15, it could require federal contractors to pay a minimum wage of $ 15. There is a long list of actions he can take unilaterally to stimulate the economy and employ people across the executive who can set an agenda to create a more equitable and prosperous economic landscape. "There is a lot that is absolutely possible without Congress," said Felicia Wong, president and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute.
Biden's plan nods to automatic stabilizers – – Linking social safety net mechanisms such as extended unemployment insurance to certain economic conditions. That way, Congress doesn't have to haggle over them all the time. But the idea should get more attention in the coming weeks. A number of legislators have called for automatic stabilizers, including Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
"Ideally, you have a social safety net that can be activated during times of crisis and we don't have to rely on policy makers to act on time or after," said Hanks. "It also means that in a time of crisis you can not worry about the immediate impact on things like unemployment insurance and focus on other areas that you did not expect." Like a global pandemic, for example.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is about to chair the Senate Budget Committee, has announced that he wants to make it big from his new seat. That includes the budget vote, which could ultimately be the mechanism that Democrats use when they can't put enough Republicans on their agenda.
"It is imperative that Congress not lose sight of the fact that working families in this country are facing more economic difficulties today than they have ever been during the Great Depression," Sanders recently told Politico. "What Congress has to show the American people is that … they can handle more than one crisis at a time."
A budget vote could emerge
The general line of the Biden team and many Democratic lawmakers is that they want to give Republicans the opportunity to get on the agenda and pass the Covid-19 relief through regular order, which would mean needing 60 votes, to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. After all, that happened in 2020. But if they fail, they will take a different route.
"We need to know as early as possible if (Republicans) are serious about this moving forward," said a Democratic adviser. “The disagreement will be how long we wait before switching when we are going to switch (tactics). The best possible outcome is for Republicans to praise it and for it to be non-partisan. "
Budget reconciliation – a process exempt from filibuster legislation and primarily concerned with taxes and expenses – is likely an option. (Vox has a full explanation of what it is.) In the current scenario, laws passed in the budget vote could be passed with 50 Democratic Senate votes plus Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
My colleague Dylan Matthews recently made a list of Biden's budget reconciliation options, and while that's not all There's a lot of it in the recovery plan. And many experts say that there are ways to refine the rules.
"When I look through the Biden Plan, I can, as I can best judge, almost anything but the minimum wage increase that they can achieve through reconciliation," said Marc Goldwein, senior policy director of the Federal Committee on Responsible Budget. He said there are a few areas where it could get tough – namely, government and local aid and vaccination funds. "You have to get a little creative, but it's not even that difficult."
Democrats have to work with two possible reconciliation laws, one for fiscal 2021 and one for 2022. If they go down this path, there will be pressure on the left to make the proposal even bigger – that's certainly what Sanders, for example, wants.
"I will use reconciliation as aggressively as possible to tackle the dire health and economic crises that working people are facing today," he told Politico. This results in spending on areas such as infrastructure, climate and other parts of Biden's "Better Back Down" plan.
But there are moderate Democrats to contend with – getting 50 votes means Joe Manchins and Kyrsten's cinemas have to be on board. A Democratic political advisor noted that much of the agenda is fairly uncontroversial, including the expansion of unemployment and state and local aid – among the caucus. Other elements, not so much. "It's about what we think we can get away with and what we can slip the envelope on and what we can convince 50 senators, including our dear friend Mr. Manchin, to do on the floor," the person said.
On a call with reporters earlier this week, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said he was looking forward to future Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer putting some laws on the table to see if he would be soon Senate Minority Chairperson Mitch McConnell and Republicans will take the same approach as the Obama administration — obstruction at every turn. "If that's his view of moving something, we have to find a way through reconciliation or something else. But I think you're giving them a chance," Brown said.
Brown also said he believes there is "far more" consensus among Democrats than people might think. "My job is to find out what we can do together, which arguments work, are most persuasive with them, and how I can work with them to make everything we have come out more palatable," he said.
Biden and the Democratic Party are in a position that many considered unlikely after the November elections when the likelihood of a double victory in the Georgian Senate runoff seemed slim: they have the opportunity to ultimately go to great lengths to boost the economy help, help people. Now we know what Biden's opening offer for it looks like. In the days and weeks to come, the country will see how it develops.
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