On Thursday evening, President-elect Joe Biden revealed his $1.9 trillion proposed emergency relief package, providing a sliver of hope that the U.S. government might finally try to help the American people for the first time in the recent past. The package, which Biden is calling the American Rescue Plan, focuses on providing immediate direct aid to families and businesses, as well as coordinating a national response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Unity is not some pie-in-the-sky dream. It’s a practical step to get any of the things we have to get done as a country, get done together,” Biden said during his address. However, as the Democrats now control both chambers of Congress and soon will be in the White House, unity isn’t necessarily a requirement to get the proposal approved.
The three major parts of the American Rescue Plan include: $400 billion for coronavirus vaccines and testing (while reopening schools), over $1 trillion in direct relief to families and increased unemployment insurance benefits, and $440 billion in aid to communities and businesses. Biden’s proposed plan also contains some other Democratic legislative priorities, such as raising the minimum wage to $15.
Specifically, the plan proposes sending another $1,400 in stimulus checks, as well as increasing federal unemployment benefits from $300 to $400 a week and extending the payments through September. In addition, the legislation would provide another $25 billion in rental assistance to families who have lost work during the pandemic and boost both the child tax credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
In terms of healthcare and coronavirus response, Biden’s package would reinstate paid sick and family leave benefits through the end of September, invest $20 billion in a national covid-19 vaccination program, and another $50 billion towards covid-19 testing. The proposal would also send $350 billion to state, local, and territorial governments to handle the covid-19 response, re-open schools, and maintain other essential services.
Not to get ahead of myself, but if the Democrats can even get half of this plan passed, perhaps there is reason to hope that 2021 will be less of a complete and utter dystopic shitshow than 2020. Or at the very least, we’d have a $15 minimum wage.