During a primetime address Thursday night, President-elect Joe Biden unveiled his proposal for an “American Rescue Plan,” a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package designed to pump money back into the economy, help Americans get through the hard times, and streamline the vaccination drive.
Focus on Households
Biden outlined his priorities for his first few days in office. Calling on Congress to act unified on urgent matters, Biden said it’s important that the government use its powers to help struggling Americans and spur economic growth. “We have to act and we have to act now,” he said. Congress must help families at this time. Those earning less are currently struggling while white-collar workers are saving more.
The incoming President proposed that half of the relief program budget should go directly to households, He suggested additional stimulus checks for American households in the form of $1,400 direct payments to supplement an earlier round of $600. Biden also suggested $400 a week unemployment insurance until September, as well as expanded paid leave and increased child tax credits.
Coronavirus Pandemic Rages On
The coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc in the United States. As of this week, the country recorded around 23 million cases and 384,375 deaths since last year. The daily death toll hovers at 3,000 over the past few weeks. The majority of schools remain closed while businesses either operate at lesser capacity or remain shuttered.
“Just as we are in the midst of a dark winter of this pandemic as cases, hospitalizations, and deaths spike at record levels, there is real pain overwhelming the real economy,” he said. “The one where people rely on their paycheck — not their investments — to pay their bills, their meals, and their children’s needs.” Biden added, “And there is no time to wait. We have to act and act now.”
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As part of the American Rescue Plan, Mr. Biden wants $160 billion in funding the national vaccination program. This includes $50 billion to increase coronavirus testing, including schools. It will also cover mobilization for a public-health jobs program, plus other steps to help fight the virus. According to Biden’s campaign team, the federal government will set up community vaccination sites nationwide, promote an equitable distribution of vaccines, and address supply shortages.
The plan also calls for free vaccines for all people regardless of immigration status. This requirement might cause some resistance from Republicans. Biden noted that so far, the current administration’s plans are a dismal failure. He will discuss the vaccine plans in more detail this Friday.
In order to get the American Rescue Plan off the ground, Biden will need bipartisan help. In a joint statement, Senator Chuck Schumer, incoming Democratic Senate Majority leader, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said that they “will get right to work to turn President-elect Biden’s vision into legislation that will pass both chambers and be signed into law.” Even as Congress will feature a Democrat majority in both the House and the Senate, these pluralities are slim. The Senate is split 50/50, so he’ll need the votes of all Democrat Senators and at least 10 Republicans. Democrats in the House also have a smaller majority compared to the 116th Congress.
Biden remains optimistic in getting bipartisan support. He said, “Unity is not a pie-in-the-sky dream, it is a practical step to getting things done.” Still, there are hopes he might get support across the aisle. Senators such as Senator Marco Rubio went public with their support for bigger stimulus checks, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. However, there will be critics. Representative Jason Smith (Mo), the top Republican on the House Budget Committee finds the package too big. “Joe Biden did not propose a COVID package tonight—he proposed a liberal takeover of the American economy,” he said. “Americans aren’t asking for trillions of dollars in new spending. They just want our government to open our economy, get their kids back to school, and create jobs.”
In addition, the president-elect didn’t propose spending cuts or tax increases to pay for the program. Instead, it will rely on federal borrowing. Biden remarked that this is not the time to worry about how the program will widen the already huge budget deficit. The emergency situation and near-zero interest rates justify the decision to proceed with his proposal.
Watch the video from the official Joe Biden channel where the President-elect announces his American Rescue Plan:
Do you agree with the proposed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan? Tell us what you think about the newest plan to support Americans struggling from the pandemic’s effects. Share your thoughts in the comment section below.