Inside Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion plan to help struggling Americans – Mother Jones

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On Thursday evening, President-elect Joe Biden outlined the first part of his administration’s two-step plan to contain the coronavirus and revive the struggling US economy. A key focus of his proposal is to bring immediate individual relief to Americans suffering from the pandemic-induced recession.

The so-called US bailout Biden unveiled includes $ 1.9 trillion in relief spending. The proposal includes roughly $ 1 trillion for extending unemployment benefits, rent assistance, expanded child care assistance, direct payments of $ 1,400 to eligible households, and more. It also includes $ 350 billion in aid to state and local governments whose budgets have been strained by the economic downturn, and $ 20 billion to help get vaccines to Americans faster.

When President Obama unveiled his own economic stimulus package in 2009, he encountered hostility from lawmakers on both sides, fearing spending that would increase the federal deficit and benefit programs that looked like a government handout. . Circumstances forced Obama to propose just $ 787 billion in spending – an amount that most economists now agree was insufficient to lift the economy out of recession – and funnel that money into programs designed to stimulate job creation, not providing immediate help to families.

Twelve years later, Biden faces a Republican Party that has pledged a return to austerity, but easing within the ranks of his own party on direct aid programs. The Democratic double wins in Georgia’s Senate runoff last week were a referendum on the political power of individual aid: the two elected Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock showed up on the issue, and a chorus of Democrats, including Biden, stood behind them.

But a one-time check isn’t the only way Americans can get money directly under Biden’s plan. About half of the $ 1.9 trillion is spent putting more money in people’s pockets through programs like expanded tax credits, additional unemployment insurance, and a proposed minimum wage of $ 15. Here are some details:

Employment figures this month have shown, in more ways than one, that the labor market recovery is faltering. The Ministry of Labor announced last week that employers had reduced 140,000 jobs in December, as COVID-19 increased across the country, leading to tighter closures. Thursday, Labor published The data showing that 1.2 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week, a to augment over 300,000 in the previous week.

Biden’s bailout aims to ease the unemployment crisis with a number of immediate measures, including:

  • Raise the unemployment increase from $ 300 per week, passed by Congress last month, to $ 400
  • Extending both regular unemployment and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, which offered assistance to independent contractors and others who are not normally eligible. Last month, Congress extended both of these programs until mid-March. Biden’s proposal would extend them even further until September.

checks for $ 1,400

Biden’s plan will give stimulus checks of up to $ 1,400 per individual or $ 2,800 per household. That, plus the $ 600 checks Americans received from the $ 900 billion stimulus package President Trump signed last month, comes on top of Biden’s pledge of $ 2,000 per person. did while opposing Senate candidates in Georgia. But some progressive lawmakers, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.), are asking Biden to include $ 2,000 in his plan. Ocasio-Cortez accuses him of not having kept his promise: “$ 2,000 means $ 2,000; ” she Recount the Washington Post, “$ 2,000 doesn’t mean $ 1,400. “

The pandemic has perpetuated a child care crisis in America. Protective gear and safety measures have increased operating costs for child care providers as their enrollments decline due to contagion fears and large numbers of working parents who have lost their jobs. Many claimants face the prospect of shutting down permanently, which could also compromise parents’ ability to return to work as the economy improves.

Biden’s plan extends one-year child care tax credits, offering families up to $ 4,000 for one child and $ 8,000 for two or more, and adds an additional $ 15 billion to a block child care grant program to help families pay for child care, prioritizing those who lost their jobs during the pandemic and are struggling to afford care. The plan also includes emergency funding of $ 25 billion to keep struggling daycares afloat.

While the pandemic has led to staggering job losses, it has also caused a housing crisis, causing millions of tenants to delay rent. Many of these households were able to stay put thanks to the Moratorium on evictions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In December, Congress extended this moratorium until the end of January. It also allocated $ 25 billion in rent assistance for tenants, since the moratorium does not erase rent arrears owed to landlords. An overview of the relief proposal provided by senior officials in the Biden administration notes: “While the $ 25 billion allocated by Congress was a large down payment on the rent accumulated during this crisis, it is insufficient to meet to the scale of the needs “- and he calls on Congress to allocate an additional $ 25 billion in aid.

If Congress approved Biden’s proposal, it is possible that this doubling of rental relief would still be insufficient: In December, Moody’s Analytics predicted that U.S. rental debt would have reached $ 70 billion by the end of the year.

He also proposes to increase the child tax credit to $ 3,000 per child, and more for children under six. Biden wants to make the entire credit refundable, which means that if he brings a household’s tax liability below zero, the family will get a tax refund.

One element particularly missing from Biden’s bailout is student loan cancellation or forbearance. This summer, the Department of Education suspended student loan payments and the accumulation of interest on federal student loans. This forbearance is expected to expire on January 31.

Biden has already pledged to extend the abstention in the first days after taking the oath. In a call with reporters Thursday, administration officials said abstention was still a priority for the president-elect, and that Biden would address the issue directly in the next phase of his stimulus package. They also reiterated Biden’s desire to keep his promise to write off up to $ 10,000 in student debt. Transition officials have expressed hope that the package will garner bipartisan support, so that it can pass the Senate with 60 votes.