Joe Biden’s economic stimulus plan to combat COVID-19 was released in a speech given by the President-elect in the evening of Thursday, January 14. The ambitious spending bill has to combat a contracting economy, millions of job losses, and state and local governments on the brink of default.
As the curtain closes on a disastrous four years under President Donald Trump — with several hundred thousand people dead of COVID-19 and a disastrous coup attempt as major features — many people might be wondering how President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office on Wednesday, January 20, will plan to stimulate the economy. While President Trump inherited a healthy-enough economy from his predecessor former President Barack Obama, the COVID-19 crisis all but took a sledgehammer to the post-Recession, house-of-cards progress the country had built.
As a result, many millions of Americans are out of work, facing eviction, behind on bills, and going hungry. And in the late evening of January 14, President-elect Joe Biden will reveal just how he plans to stimulate the economy — and get folks back to work — as the nation still reels from the setbacks of COVID-19 from a public health and economic perspective.
The New York Times published key reporting on the plan, and the bill is ambitious.
Here’s what we know so far about President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus plan, called the “American Rescue Plan,” which has a price tag of $1.9 trillion. Keep in mind that there’s likely a lot more in the plan than we’re currently aware of and that as more information comes out, we’ll get a good timeline of when the package could be passed, what will be in it, and what to expect.
$1,400 In Stimulus Checks — Not $2,000, As Promised
President-elect Biden will commit to giving more Americans more stimulus checks, a measure that is nearly a guaranteed certainty. Earlier in the day, Reuters suggested that Biden’s plan will have a commitment of $1,400 stimulus checks, and they were right. The $1,400 checks, it appears, are supposed to be a way of doing the math to get families that “$2,000 check” Biden promised on the campaign trail, as 600 + 1,400 = 2,000.
More Money For Kids, Families, Small Businesses
There will be two temporary tax credit expansions in the bill — the earned income tax credit and the child care tax credit, which could seriously decimate childhood poverty. (It’s important to note that the poorest people in America are those who can’t work, meaning that children are overrepresented in terms of experiencing poverty.)
The New York Times reported that Biden will give families up to $4,000 for one child, and $8,000 for two or more, in tax credits to help offset costs of child care. Families that make less than $125,000 a year are eligible for the full expanded tax credit, and people are eligible up to making $400,000 a year.
Billions of dollars in aid will go to renters, and millions will be granted to small businesses.
He Will Raise The Minimum Wage
Biden plans to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, a move that would bolster wages for frontline workers.
An Emphasis On Communities of Color
Speaking to Reuters, anonymous officials suggested that Biden will focus heavily on underserved communities that have not received as much help during the pandemic. It appears, although it’s not confirmed, that he will focus on minority-owned small businesses that did not receive as much bailout money or grants as white-owned businesses did during the Paycheck Protection Program roll-out, and that there would be targeted relief towards these communities. This will be confirmed, in some form or another, this evening.
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Funding
Biden has long said that he would push for federal funding to help speed up COVID-19 vaccine distribution, which has been slow and ineffectual, leading to thousands of doses being thrown out and states well behind schedule in vaccinating their most vulnerable frontline workers and elderly citizens. Biden’s Rescue Plan includes $160 billion for a national vaccine program, including $20 billion for a national vaccine program in which community vaccination centers become hubs for the drive: from gyms to sports stadiums, $50 billion for improved and expanded testing, and $40 billion for future PPE and supplies for frontline workers. He plans on releasing every available vaccine now — rather than holding some in stores.
Health Care Funding — Public Health Jobs Programs And More
Using some of the aforementioned $160 billion in vaccine distribution funding, Biden wants to create 100,000 new jobs in public health so people can work on vaccine outreach and contact tracing. These were things economists had called for in the early months of the pandemic. They’re a double-whammy: get people good work, bolster the public health infrastructure, and help get over COVID-19. He will increase funding for community health centers and will make sure that people in prisons and jails will also get help re: COVID-19 through federal funding.
Emergency Paid Leave To Hundreds of Millions of Americans
Biden plans to announce that he will give federally mandated emergency paid leave to 106 million Americans — no matter their employer size or type. The paid leave will be 14 weeks long for caregivers and those who are sick. It also provides a paid benefit of $1,400 for workers who have to take time away from work. The federal government would be refunded for the costs of paying this leave for their employees, and the paid leave would last through September 2021.
State and Local Funding
Biden will give $440 billion to local and state governments to help their budget shortfalls, with $350 billion going to local, state, and territorial governments, and $80 billion in small business grants. This will help them retain educators, police, state and local workers, and more, without shutting down schools or cutting salaries and jobs.
He also wants to give $170 billion to K-12 schools to help them with the costs of reopening and of maintaining quality distance learning, as well.
Extended Unemployment Insurance That Automatically Renews
Biden wants to extend unemployment insurance, which was just extended to March through the last stop-gap relief bill, until September. He wants to back an extra $400 federal unemployment payment — more than the $300 backed by Senators in 2020.
The New York Times also reports that Biden will work with Congress to create a system that automatically renews unemployment insurance — rather than leaving dozens of millions of workers in the lurch — until the economic hardship of COVID-19 has passed.
He’ll Have Another Big Spending Package On The Way
The American Rescue Plan is just one prong in a two-pronged approach President-elect Biden will use in order to combat the devastating public health and economic effects COVID-19 has had on America. While this bill is the “rescue” plan, the NYT reports that Biden will unveil the second bill in February called a “recovery” package.
The “recovery” package will include some job creation language, clean-energy legislation that would create jobs, health care, and education spending, and more, building on the emergency spending of the “rescue” plan to create long-term health in a struggling economy.
This story is developing. Check back here for updates.