Joe Biden’s opening stimulus salvo will carry a $1.9 trillion price tag.
Early reports put it at $2 trillion, so I suppose that’s close enough.
Biden was set to unveil the plan just hours after the latest read on jobless claims showed nearly 1 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, the most since August. The jump from the previous week was the largest since March.
While the Georgia runoffs gave Democrats the slimmest of majorities in the Senate, Biden likes to present himself as a consensus builder. It goes without saying that in light of recent events, he’ll be keen on bipartisanship wherever possible. COVID relief is a good place to start.
The proposal, dubbed the “American Rescue Plan,” includes direct payments of $2,000 for most Americans, as well as a doubling of the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. That may not go over well with some in the GOP. Apparently, he’s also seeking to do away with the lower minimum wage in the restaurant and hospitality industry, where workers rely on tips. That would be a big deal.
Pandemic-related unemployment assistance would be extended and expanded. For example, the $300 federal unemployment supplement set to expire in March would be upped to $400 and would run through September. Key eviction and foreclosure moratoriums would also be extended through September.
$30 billion would be allocated to a program that helps the poor and jobless keep current on rent and pay their utilities. $5 billion would go towards assisting state and local governments in the construction of emergency housing for homeless families.
Tax credits for lower-income families and the middle class would be expanded.
Biden wants $350 billion for state and local governments, as well as $20 billion for public transit. State and local aid was, of course, one of the major sticking points last year, with Republicans generally parroting the White House’s talking points about the moral hazard of “bailing out badly-run” locales.
Additionally, Biden’s plan mandates paid sick leave irrespective of a firm’s size. Smaller firms (those with 499 employees or less) would be reimbursed for some of the cost.
$170 billion would go to schools in a bid to help them reopen safely. The funds would be split up, with $130 billion going to K-12, $35 billion to colleges and universities, and the remaining $5 billion to states that were disproportionately affected by the epidemic.
Finally, Biden will look to channel some $175 billion to small businesses through low-interest loans, using $35 billion in government funds as a backstop. Another $15 billion would be disbursed as grants to employers. Unemployed food and beverage workers would be given an opportunity to join up with the federal government to assist in nutrition initiatives, as a way to provide them with jobs.
Commenting on Thursday evening, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer said they’ll “get right to work” on the plan.
Say hello to sane policy aimed at actually helping people, America.
Crocodile tears for any corporations that might eventually see higher taxes. And the world’s tiniest violin plays for an imaginary, meaningless line in the sand called “the deficit.”