Trump’s impeachment turmoil is not over, and President-elect Biden has begun to push other priorities.
According to the Associated Press, on the evening of January 14 local time, President-elect Biden released a “American rescue plan” worth 1.9 trillion yuan, including providing economic subsidies, filling state and local government budget gaps, accelerating vaccine deployment, and supporting schools to open safely.
“The United States is facing a heavy crisis of suffering.” Biden said in his speech that the “American rescue plan” aims to reverse the situation of the coronavirus epidemic and provide economic support to people struggling with the long recession.
What does the “American Rescue Plan” contain?
On January 14th local time, the U.S. Department of Labor released a report showing that 1.15 million people applied for unemployment benefits in the first week of the New Year, an increase of 25% over the previous week.
Another 284,000 people applied for large-scale unemployment assistance without eligibility for unemployment benefits.
It was the urgency of the situation that prompted Biden to come up with the economic rescue package, Biden aides noted. According to the New York Times, more than $400 billion of the rescue plan will be directly used to respond to the coronavirus epidemic, accelerate the development of a coronavirus vaccine, and work closely with states and local communities to get more people vaccinated.
In addition, $350 billion will be used to help state and local governments fill budget gaps. Biden also called for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, as well as other financial subsidies.
“I know the [rescue plan] I just introduced is not cheap, but we can’t help but make this proposal.” Biden added, “If we invest boldly and wisely now and unwaveringly focus on American workers and families, we can lift the U.S. economy, reduce inequality, and return the nation’s long-term finances to the path of the most sustainable development.”
How do all parties evaluate it?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat, and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement praising Biden for including liberal priorities in the plan, and saying they would act quickly to pass the bill, according to the Associated Press.
Some progressive teams also called the scale and cost of the rescue package a “welcome surprise”.
“It’s really remarkable that Biden understands the need for fiscal relief and is committed to addressing inequality,” said Elizabeth Pancotti, a policy analyst at the liberal group Employ America.
The New York Times noted that Biden’s proposed rescue plan would raise funds solely through increased federal borrowing, which could spark concerns for Republicans.
According to the analysis of the Associated Press, Biden’s rescue plan will be paid with borrowed money, and now the U.S. government is already burdened with trillions of dollars in debt in response to the coronavirus epidemic, which will make the debt situation of the United States even more unoptimistic.
In addition, the plan also includes direct relief payments of $1,400 to individuals, which means that the bill disguisedly increased direct relief for individuals in the previous 900 billion relief bill to $2,000. This clause has not been supported by the majority of Senate Republicans before.
What difficulties will Biden face?
It is worth noting the timing of Biden’s speech. The New York Times pointed out that the United States is at a very challenging moment. With the rising number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, millions of workers being marginalized, partisan divisions within the country are threatening to divide the country.
A week ago, the Capitol was attacked by a riot. Now Washington has turned into an armed camp, with steel roadblocks erecting the streets and armed law enforcement personnel patrolling everywhere.
The Associated Press believes that although Democrats lead by a narrow margin in both houses of Congress, Republican lawmakers may obstruct the increase of the minimum wage and provide state aid funds, demanding that the rescue plan take into account Republican priorities, such as providing corporate liability protection. In his speech, Biden hinted that he would cross the party line to get the rescue bill passed.
Although Biden once again reiterated his goal of completing 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine within 100 days in office, the current rate of vaccination is still difficult to achieve.
In addition, a Biden team official pointed out that the existing national vaccine plan and the infrastructure to support mass vaccination and testing are far from as perfect as previously expected.
In addition, Dr. Lena Wen, a professor of public health at George Washington University, said in an interview with the Associated Press that one of Biden’s biggest challenges in responding to the epidemic is how to win the trust of the American people and enable them to follow his leadership.
According to public opinion polls, the slow vaccination process in the United States is partly due to the people’s still hesitation about vaccines, which make many people reluctant to be vaccinated.
Dr. Nadine Grecia, executive vice president of the nonprofit American Health Trust, noted that the key to addressing people’s skepticism is to find out why it exists and work to gain trust in the community and build confidence in vaccines.