President-elect Joe Biden has announced a plan for stimulating the economy that will include direct checks to Americans, a raise in the federal minimum wage, and funding for small businesses.
“The crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight and there’s no time to waste,” Biden said in announcing what amounts to a $1.9 billion effort whose centerpiece is a $1,400 check for individuals making less than $75,000.
“We have to act and we have to act now,” Biden continued, saying that what he calls his American Rescue Plan will “tackle the pandemic and get direct financial assistance and relief to Americans who need it the most.”
Biden is also proposing enhanced unemployment benefits of $400 a week, up from the current $300, with an expiration date of next September, and a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour, up from the current $7.25 an hour, which has been in effect since the summer of 2009.
Up to $15 billion in Biden’s plan will go directly to help small businesses impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak and economic shutdown.
“I know what I just described does not come cheaply, but failure to do so will cost us dearly,” Biden continued. “The consensus among leading economists is, we simply cannot afford not to do what I’m proposing.”
The plan will additionally include $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local, and territorial governments.
Responding directly to the pandemic, Biden’s plan would see $20 billion spent for a national vaccination program, $50 billion for improved testing, and $40 billion targeting an increase in the nation’s stock of protective gear and supplies.
A second piece of legislation, which is expected to include a comprehensive infrastructure construction funding proposal, will most likely be introduced by Biden early next month.
By Garry Boulard
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