What's in Biden's $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 ‘Rescue’ Plan?
Do you support Biden’s COVID-19 “rescue plan” plan?
What’s the story?
- President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday outlined a $1.9 trillion “rescue plan” to provide coronavirus (COVID-19) relief and enact a number of long-term policy priorities of the Democratic party. He also announced that he will lay out a separate “recovery plan” when he addresses a joint session of Congress next month.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that they will soon translate the plan into legislation that can be brought to the floor in Congress. The proposal will likely prove to be contentious in Congress, so here’s a look at Biden’s rescue plan.
What’s in the plan?
- Stimulus Payments: Biden’s plan would provide a round of $1,400 relief payments to individuals on top of the recently enacted $600 payment, bringing the total to $2,000 ― an amount which has sparked criticism across the political spectrum. Members of the democratic-socialist wing of the Democratic party have called for new payments to be at least $2,000 (or $2,600 overall), or a recurring $2,000 per month payment until the pandemic ends that would be retroactive to March 2020. Conservative Republicans have balked at the $2,000 amount, claiming it’s insufficiently targeted because many households that haven’t lost income during the pandemic would get the same check as those that have.
- Enhanced Unemployment Benefits: Biden’s plan would increase the federal enhancement of weekly unemployment benefits from the recently enacted $300 per week to $400 per week, which is less than the original $600 enhancement that led to some recipients receiving more money from unemployment than from their prior work. Economists estimate that with a $400 per week enhancement, 62% of recipients would earn more via unemployment than their prior work, compared to 48% under the current $300 enhancement.
- $15 / Hour Minimum Wage: Biden’s plan would increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour. It would also raise the minimum wage for tipped workers from $2.13 to $15 per hour. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that a $15 minimum wage would lift 1.3 million out of poverty by 2025, but would likely eliminate 1.3 million jobs, a number which could rise to 3.7 million jobs. Additionally, if Democrats attempt to pass this package through the reconciliation process, this provision may run afoul of the “Byrd rule” that prohibits the inclusion of provisions unrelated to taxes and spending.
- Healthcare Response: The plan would include $160 billion for the national COVID-19 response, including $20 billion for community vaccination centers and $50 billion for expanded routine testing by state and local governments.
- Reopening Schools: The plan would provide $170 billion for K-12 schools and institutions of higher education that are still doing distance learning to safely reopen during the first 100 days of the Biden administration.
- State & Local Aid: Biden’s proposal would provide $350 billion in funding for state, local, and territorial governments to help front-line workers. State and local aid was left out of the recently enacted $900 billion COVID-19 relief package due to GOP concerns that states would use the funds to pay down debt and resolve structural budgetary issues that were an issue prior to the pandemic.
- Expanding Tax Credits: The child tax credit (CTC) would be expanded to $3,000 per child (or $3,600 for children under age 6) and made fully refundable at a cost of $120 billion for one year. Additionally, the earned income tax credit (EITC) would be temporarily expanded for families earning between $125,000 and $400,000.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Capitol Money: iStock.com / mj0007 | Biden: cornstalker via Flickr / Creative Commons)
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