President Joe Biden has released his plan on Friday to provide “emergency and equitable economic relief” for families, communities and businesses affected by the pandemic.
Biden’s instructions are part of a package worth about $1.9 trillion that Biden will send to Congress, where Democrats hold majorities in both chambers.
“The pandemic has pushed America into an economic crisis,” the White House plan states. “More than 10 million people are out of work, 14 million renters are behind on their payments, 29 million adults and at least eight million children are struggling with food insecurity.”
Biden’s initiative includes instructions for the Agriculture Department to expand federal food assistance programs and for the Treasury Department to modify its programs so that relief reaches some eight million people who have not received assistance since the pandemic began.
“Nationwide, one in seven households and more than one in five African-American and Latino households report difficulty acquiring the food they need,” it continues. “President Biden urges Congress to provide additional support by ensuring that all people, regardless of their situation, have access to healthy, affordable food.”
Since the pandemic began spreading in the United States a year ago, the federal government distributed first a $1,200 check and at the end of the year a $600 check to all taxpayers, and in his proposal, Biden adds the distribution of another $1,400 check as temporary relief from the economic hardship of the population.
Biden has asked the Department of Labor to clarify that workers have a right, guaranteed by federal law, to refuse to perform tasks “that endanger their health, and that if they do so they still qualify for unemployment benefits.”
In one of the initiatives with the greatest potential impact included in the plan, Biden proposed raising the pay of more federal government employees to $15 per hour and added that the Executive should only “assign contracts to private sector employers who pay their workers the same pay and grant them paid leave for emergencies.”
The White House announcement claims that “in 2019, 43% of households indicated they had at least one family member with pre-existing health conditions, and many of them are at increased risk of serious illness or death if they contract COVID-19.”
“During the pandemic, government programs have provided much-needed support to help tens of millions of people pay rents, mortgages and other bills, get the food they need and access health care,” the White House said. “However, that crucial support does not always reach those who need it most,” it added.
Some of the initiatives in Biden’s stimulus plan, however, could negatively impact the economy; raising the minimum wage across the country would result in the closure of hundreds of thousands of businesses; and an uncontrolled increase in debt could increase the country’s long-term economic instability.