President-elect Joe Biden unveiled his incoming administration’s $1.9 trillion stimulus and economic rescue package Thursday night, the same day the Labor Department reported nearly a million new jobless claims, the highest since last summer.
Biden’s emergency relief plan, called the “American Rescue Plan,” would take a two-pronged approach to economic recovery: Provide financial support for individuals and families — including a third round of stimulus checks — and throw the weight the federal government behind a nationwide COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts.
“We have to act. We have to act now,” Biden said Thursday night, introducing his plan. “We cannot afford inaction.”
The plan will be among the first proposals the Biden administration will bring to Congress after taking office Jan. 20, including a larger recovery proposal that Biden calls the “Build Back Better” recovery plan to rebuild the country’s infrastructure.
Biden’s stimulus proposal comes a day before the IRS wraps up sending the second stimulus checks as part of December’s $900 stimulus bill, which also authorized $300 weekly federal unemployment payments. Biden has repeatedly referred to December’s bill a “down payment” on more aid this year.
Here are key economic areas Biden said he will work on with the the new Congress starting next week to help individuals and families.
A $1,400 third stimulus payment, for a total possible $2,000
The IRS will hit its deadline Friday to make the second round of payments for $600 to eligible Americans Congress approved at the end of 2020. But after signing off on the $600 payment, some in Congress along with Trump immediately pushed to bump the payments to $2,000. While the effort failed, Biden work to make up the amount with a third stimulus check that is part of his economic rescue package.
This third check would be for a maximum of $1,400, completing the $2,000 amount when added to the $600 figure. (Here are all the ways a third check could bring more money.) Unlike the two preceding checks, this third round will include eligible adult dependents, not just children under 17.
Biden could find opposition for another round of payments, however. Some in Congress, including Democratic Sen. Joe Machin, have said the stimulus checks should be targeted to those most in need. “It’s time now to target where the money goes,” Mancin said on CNN’s State of the Union on Jan. 10.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, however, said $1,400 isn’t enough. “$2,000 means $2,000. $2,000 does not mean $1,400,″ she told the Washington Post.
$400 weekly federal unemployment benefits
The weekly $300 federal unemployment checks Congress approved in December as part of the $900 billion COVID-relief legislation are set to expire in March. During his presidential campaign, Biden pushed to reform the unemployment system and said he would work with Congress to extend the unemployment benefits that had been authorized under last year’s CARES Act and renewed in December “for however long this crisis lasts.”
Biden’s plan would send $400 federal unemployment payments through September with triggers that would extend the benefits after September for those who continue to be out work and include automatic payment adjustments linked to health and economic conditions.
Nationwide vaccine delivery
While over 30 millions doses have so far been distributed in the US, that is far behind the 100 million doses President Donald Trump promised to distribute by the end of 2020. Biden has set a goal of 100 million vaccine jabs in the first 100 days of his administration.
Biden plan will set aside $400 billion for a nationwide vaccine program. “I will immediately move for the most urgent need of asking the Congress to give me the financial wherewithal to deal with the virus,” Biden said Jan. 8. “I’m committed to get 100 million shots in people’s arms in the first 100 days.”
Child tax credits
In his plan, Biden proposes expanding the child tax credit that currently allows families to claim up to a $2,000 credit for children under age 17. If approved, the plan would extend the benefit to lower-income families who would otherwise not receive the credit. Under Biden’s plan, families could claim up $3,600 per year for one young child and up to $3,000 per year for an older child.
The plan would also expand childcare tax credits for one year to help cover the cost of childcare. Under Biden’s plan, families could get back as a tax credit as much as half of their spending on childcare for children under age 13, up to to $4,000 for a single child and $8,000 for two or more children.
“The Biden plan is the most impressive and ambitious child poverty plan ever in the United States,” tweeted economist Jason Furman, a former adviser in the Barack Obama administration. “This would not just help in the short run but have long-run mobility benefits as well.”
Minimum wage hike to $15 an hour
Biden’s plan will push for a rise in the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour. “It is time to raise the minimum wage,” Biden said Jan. 8. “No one, no one should work as millions are doing today, 40 hours a week at a job, and still live below the poverty line. They are entitled to at least $15 minimum wage per hour……..Read More>>