Jared Bernstein, a longtime economic advisor to President Joe Biden, on Wednesday defended the size of the government's $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package amid disagreements with Republicans over state and local funding and other regulations.
As a member of the Biden Council of Economic Advisors, Bernstein added that the law known as the American Rescue Package could be passed with bilateral support, even if the Democrats employ a process that only requires a simple majority of Senators.
"Reconciliation doesn't mean that Republicans haven't joined the plan," Bernstein said in an interview with Kayla Tausche at a CNBC Capital Exchange event. "Virus control has a lot in common when it comes to helping businesses."
Bernstein, a work-oriented economist, was Biden's chief economist when he was vice president under former President Barack Obama. He reiterated his view on Wednesday that, given the state of the US economy, it is riskier to pass a stimulus bill that is too small than one that is too large.
"The President stands ready to share information and ideas in any way that achieves the goals he has set for this package. He is not moving fast or with the strength to put this virus behind us for good and allow this recovery start: that's the part that is. " not acceptable to him, "added the economist.
Bernstein and others advocate that Biden's plan would accelerate the country's return to full employment and help the millions of Americans in the food, travel, and hospitality industries who continue to struggle to find work.
The number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits rose to 18.28 million in the week ended Jan. 23, according to the latest Labor Department report on unemployment claims.
Bernstein's comments also came as the Biden government investigated two politically dangerous methods to pass another coronavirus aid package.
The first, touted as the bipartisan route, would put key provisions of the $ 1.9 trillion proposal on hold to get enough GOP support to pass the Senate by 60 votes. The other option, preferred by many progressive politicians, including Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Is to force the original $ 1.9 trillion through a budgetary instrument known as reconciliation.
Biden's plan also met with overwhelming support from voters. A new Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday shows that more than two-thirds of voters are in favor of the $ 1.9 trillion plan.
Reconciliation would allow Democrats to pass the measure by a simple majority and, as such, open the door to many of the items on the agenda included in the original plan that some Republicans oppose, such as the $ 15 minimum wage and funding for state and local governments. With Vice President Kamala Harris's tiebreaking vote, the Democrats have a wafer-thin majority in the chamber.
Congressional Democrats began this process on Tuesday when the Senate voted 50-49 along party lines to push a budget resolution.
Although it remained unclear as of Wednesday afternoon which of the two avenues the Biden team would ultimately support, the president himself said earlier in the day that he was still open to making changes to his plans to encourage support from both parties.
On a call to the House Democrats on Wednesday, Biden announced that he was ready to send $ 1,400 to a smaller group of Americans in the next round of relief laws and to close the headline with a $ 1.9 trillion price tag edit, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The president has so far opposed changing the dollar number for the economic reviews, even if the payments ultimately go to a smaller group of US workers.
Biden's business team
As part of the Council of Economic Advisers, Bernstein and his doctoral students provide the President with an objective economic analysis at regular briefings. CEA members also publish an annual economic report from the President and seek to advocate economic policies that they believe the President should consider.
Biden appointed Princeton economist Cecilia Rouse to head the CEA in November. Should the Senate confirm her appointment, Rouse would be the first black person to preside over the council, which was founded in 1946.
When asked how he and the rest of the CEA view the current state of the US economy, Bernstein replied that he measures economic success by how equitable opportunities are distributed among historically marginalized communities.
"The economy will not return to full employment fast enough," said Bernstein without Biden's plan. "You cannot judge our plan, our success simply by the GDP. Not even by the unemployment rate. These things are necessary, but not enough."
"For far too many people, GDP growth has been a spectator sport for decades. And our politics must recreate the connective tissue so that economic growth creates broad shared prosperity and racial justice," he added.