March 9, 2021

Biden Outlines $1.9 Trillion Spending Package to Combat Virus and Downturn

“Out of all the peril of this moment, I want you to know I see the promise,” Mr. Biden said. “I’m as optimistic as I’ve ever been.”

The plan was lauded by progressive groups as well as by the nation’s leading business lobby, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which was often at odds with the Obama administration over spending and regulations. “We applaud the president-elect’s focus on vaccinations and on economic sectors and families that continue to suffer as the pandemic rages on,” the chamber said in a statement.

Republicans were largely silent on the plan, which includes the type of state and local aid that became a sticking point in last year’s stimulus negotiations. Congress was able to agree on a $900 billion package in December only after such aid was excluded. But Mr. Biden outlined his rationale for including such funding, saying it was vital to avoiding cutbacks and layoffs that would set back the fight against the virus and further damage the economy.

“Millions of people putting their lives at risk are the very people now at risk of losing their jobs: police officers, firefighters, all first responders, nurses, educators,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Biden’s “rescue” proposal, which would be financed entirely through increased federal borrowing, flows from the idea that the virus and the recovery are intertwined and that the economy cannot rebound without mass vaccine deployment.

“What the economy needs is a successful rollout of the vaccines, and reduction in the risks of social and economic activity,” said Aaron Sojourner, a labor economist at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management who served in the White House Council of Economic Advisers under the Obama and Trump administrations. “That will go a long way toward promoting recovery. It won’t go all the way, but it will go a long way.”

Mr. Biden, who has promised to get “100 million Covid vaccine shots into the arms of the American people” by his 100th day in office, said last week that he intended to release nearly all available coronavirus vaccine vials once he takes office, rather than holding some back as the Trump administration had been doing.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/14/business/economy/biden-economy.html

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