President Joe Biden met with the CEOs of some of the country's largest corporations in the Oval Office Tuesday to discuss his $ 1.9 trillion Covid stimulus plan and the outlook for the American economy.
Among those meeting with Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen were Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan, Doug McMillon of Walmart, Sonia Syngal of Gap, Marvin Ellison of Lowe, and Tom Donohue of the US Chamber of Commerce.
The discussion began with a 15-minute speech from Biden, who emphasized the need to fight viruses while helping the economy, a meeting attendee told CNBC's Kayla Tausche.
The president also hammered his focus on Jobs and his commitment to a bipartisan work home, signaling that he wasn't just pushing through a stimulus plan that was unsupported.
Each CEO had the opportunity to speak.
Gaps Syngal said since retail is 60% to 70% women and 60% to 70% minority groups, she sees up close those who are proportionally the most hurt. Walmarts McMillon spoke about how good wage growth is for America and how Walmart is working on it.
Ellison, CEO of Lowe, also spoke about the importance of jobs. JPMorgan boss Dimon spoke about good policies that lead to healthy economic growth.
Just before the meeting, Biden said the group would talk about "the state of the economy, our recovery package". We will talk a little – God willing – about the infrastructure in the future and also about the minimum wage. ""
US President Joe Biden sits along with US Vice President Kamala Harris (2nd L) and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (2nd R) at a meeting with business executives, including Jamie Dimon (R), Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, above a Covid-19 Relief Act in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, February 9, 2021.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
Still, the star-studded cast of American industry is likely to push the White House on its plans to make more Covid-19 vaccines available to workers on the size, scope and importance of another round of stimulus checks and one Minimum wage of $ 15 would impact payroll.
Yellen, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, has stressed the importance of acting quickly to provide the US economy with more financial support, even after the $ 900 billion bill was passed in December. Without it, the labor market recovery could take years instead of fully recovering by next year, she said over the weekend.
Although the U.S. economy rebounded sharply in the summer of 2020, that advance has plateaued, if not partially reversed, this winter as the hospitality, travel, and food services industries continue to struggle under the effects of the coronavirus pandemic .
The January 2021 job report published on Friday showed that employers only created 49,000 new jobs in the past month. The decline in the unemployment rate, which fell from 6.7% to 6.3%, was due to more people giving up their job search.
It is statistics like those that have accelerated efforts by Congressional Democrats to pass Biden's American bailout plan with a budget instrument known as reconciliation that would allow the party to work out the big ticket plan through Capitol Hill without GOP support.
Although the Biden administration has been optimistic for weeks that its plan could be passed bipartisan with the required 60 votes without reconciliation, the Republican backlash on the size of the bill appears to have ended the prospect of an acceptable solution.
"The president – his first priority is to give relief to the American people," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. "Again, I don't think the American people are particularly concerned about how direct relief is getting into their hands. If (reconciliation) is the process they're moving forward, which seems likely at this point, the President would surely support it." . ""
U.S. President Joe Biden will receive an economic briefing with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on January 29, 2021.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
While sitting in the Oval Office gives CEOs a chance to learn more about the administration's goals, it also gives the White House a chance to get direct feedback from some of the top executives in the country who may prefer some parts of Biden Bill and not like others.
Josh Bolten, president and CEO of the influential Business Roundtable, told CNBC last week that business leaders generally do not support conservative efforts to "reduce" the size of the Biden Plan.
"Our members say they support what the Biden government is saying about the urgency of the necessary bailout. First, bring the pandemic under control and second, support the weakest in difficult economic times," Bolten said on Wednesday. "We are here to get involved with these elements."
However, Bolten stressed that the BRT – whose members include Dimon, McMillon and Syngal – was concerned about some components of the original plan that could reduce the likelihood of legislation being passed, including raising the minimum wage.
Three days after Bolten's statements, Biden told CBS that the $ 15 minimum wage was unlikely to "survive" in the next Covid-19 aid package, but promised to keep the election promise at a later date.
More recently, senior House Democrats proposed Monday night that the $ 1,400 stimulus payments be sent to individual Americans with annual incomes up to $ 75,000. That move opposed an earlier call to tailor the benefits to those on lower incomes, backed by conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Biden said Tuesday that he supports the full benefit limit of $ 75,000 annual income for individual applicants.
Senator Bernie Sanders, independent from Vermont, told CNN over the weekend that he was supporting a "strong cliff" on payments so that checks are not allocated to high-income households but are warned about excluding too many families.
"But to tell a worker in Vermont, California, or elsewhere that if you make $ 52,000 a year you are too rich to get this aid, the full benefits, I find it absurd." he said.
Correction: 60 votes are required to pass the budget law in the Senate without reconciliation. In a previous version, the requirement was incorrectly specified.