Biden administration officials unveiled the details of a sprawling $1.9 trillion rescue package on Thursday, proposing an extensive response to the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating grip on the nation’s economy.
The Biden plan directs roughly $400 billion to fighting the public health crisis, including through a national vaccination program, scaling up testing and contact tracing and providing paid sick leave to contain the virus’s spread, senior Biden administration officials told reporters ahead of the speech. To fill the lingering holes in the economic recovery, the plan also includes more than $1 trillion in direct aid to struggling families by increasing stimulus checks to $2,000, extended unemployment insurance, rental protections and nutrition assistance. The Biden proposal also allocates $440 billion to small-businesses, local communities and transit systems on the brink.
Less than a week before Biden takes office, the proposal comes at a consequential time for the country. More than 4,200 people had died as a result of the coronavirus on Tuesday, a new daily-record high. Fears that the economic recovery is losing ground are mounting as nearly a million people filed for unemployment last week and the country lost jobs in December, marking the first decline since the recovery began in May.
Both the proposal and the speech introducing it also reflect a pretty decisive break with the deficit/austerity politics that have had way too much influence on Dem elites since the Carter administration.