Americans would get another $1,400 per person in direct payments under President-elect Biden’s proposed coronavirus (COVID-19) stimulus plan. It would supplement the $600 per person direct payment approved late last month.
In a speech to the nation Thursday evening, Biden outlined a sweeping aid package that not only seeks to help consumers but also sends money to state and local governments and provides help for struggling businesses. The price tag for the package is $1.9 trillion.
Here’s what’s in the proposal:
Direct payments of $1,400 per person;
Increases the extra unemployment compensation from $300 to $400 per week;
$25 billion in rent assistance to low and moderate-income households;
$5 billion for struggling renters to pay utility bills;
Extend the federal eviction moratorium to September 30;
15 percent increase in food stamp benefits;
Temporary increase in the Child Tax Credit;
Health insurance subsidy for people who lost employer-sponsored health care;
Reinstatement of emergency paid leave through September 30;
New $15 billion aid program for small businesses;
$350 billion to state and local governments;
$20 billion increase in the national vaccine program; and
A minimum wage increase to $15 an hour.
Bigger than last month’s aid bill
The package is significantly larger than the pandemic aid package approved in December when Republicans controlled the White House and the Senate. After Wednesday, Democrats will control the White House and both houses of Congress.
Pressure for additional aid continues to build. The number of cases of the virus has mushroomed over the last three months, forcing new restrictions on many businesses.
On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that new claims for jobless benefits rose to 950,000, the most since mid-August when the second wave of coronavirus cases began to take hold in wide areas of the country. After peaking at nearly 7 million in March, jobless claims have mostly remained well under 1 million per week.
In last week’s report, the largest increase in new claims occurred in Florida and Illinois, with both states reporting more than 50,000 new claims.
If lawmakers need more evidence that some action is required to bolster the economy, they need look no farther than today’s Commerce Department report on December retail sales. Sales, excluding automobiles, fell 1.4 percent last month.
Even with Congress now in the hands of Democrats, Biden will have his work cut out for him. Some of the proposals in his legislation have been floated before and rejected by Republicans. Since most legislation requires 60 votes in the Senate, the incoming president will need to pick up 10 Republican votes to pass the measure.