President-elect Joe Biden rolled out his first major legislative proposal last night, a $1.9 trillion coronavirus response plan aimed to get the pandemic under control, to help people who have lost their jobs because of it, and to rebuild the economy. It's nothing like the fairly timid stopgap stimulus Congress passed in December, and which Donald Trump held up for a week just to be a dick about it. The plan is aimed at using the economic power of the federal government to kick-start the economy with good old Keynesian deficit spending for the good of American workers and families. Max Berger, former director of progressive outreach for Elizabeth Warren's presidential campaign, praised Biden for refusing to "be cowed by the bad faith deficit scolds."

Wonkette shall be referring to the bill exclusively as the MONEY FOR MERICA PLS JOE BIDEN bill, because that is a very good name.

Here's Biden's speech announcing the plan; as he notes, the day he's inaugurated will be exactly one year since the announcement of the first coronavirus case in the US. And finally getting serious about controlling the pandemic is the only thing that's going to get the economy going again. While he's at it, he wants to address the economic inequities that the pandemic and the crash have made all too obvious.


Officially called the American Rescue Plan (and almost certainly not "ARP"), the MONEY FOR MERICA PLS JOE BIDEN proposal builds on ideas from last March's CARES Act and the House Democratic relief plan from May, the HEROES Act, which Mitch McConnell never considered in the Senate. And good golly, it's got "ambitious" written all over it. CNN has a nice rundown of what's in it; we'll hit a few of the highlights here.


Unemployment Insurance (UI)

Biden's plan would renew through September all three basic parts of the CARES Act's help for Americans who have lost their jobs: 1) The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which allows people who've exhausted state UI to keep getting checks; 2) The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides unemployment benefits to folks who are self-employed, independent contractors, or gig workers; and 3) emergency federal UI benefits on top of whatever people get from the state UI systems. In the December bill, that was an extra $300 a week; Biden would increase that to $400, which is short of the $600 in the CARES Act. The upside is that where both the CARES Act and the December benefits expired after a short time, these bonus payments will run through September.

Individual Payments To Americans

Biden's plan would add another $1,400 per person to the $600 payments from the December bill, for a total of $2,000 for the current round of stimmy checks. And unlike the earlier payments, this one would finally apply to adult dependents, who didn't get included before. (A plan to include them in the December package got taken out in negotiations to pass anything at all.)

Rent And Mortgage Help

The plan would extend the federal moratorium on evictions through September, allow mortgage holders to apply for forbearance on payments, and provide $25 billion in rental assistance for low- and moderate-income households; that's in addition to the $25 billion in the December bill. On top of that, there'd be $5 billion to help renters with utility bills, and another $5 billion for state and local governments to help prevent people from becoming homeless.

Help For Families

The proposal would increase the Child Tax Credit and make it fully refundable, which would mean people who don't make enough money to pay income tax would get a check from the government when they file. Huge income boost for low-income Americans! On top of that, the Earned Income Tax Credit would be increased, and the eligibility for the credit expanded.

The plan would also make additional funding available for child care, and would increase the size of the child care tax credit for one year. Many Dems want to make that permanent.

Healthcare And Family Leave

Bigger premium subsidies for folks buying Obamacare plans, and for people who've lost their jobs, Biden wants the full cost of their premiums covered as well. That's huge. In addition, the plan will provide up to 14 weeks of paid leave for people who have COVID-19 or are caring for a family member, because it's not a two-week disease.

State and Local Government

Finally, the $350 billion that the Republicans have blocked forever. Maybe Biden can get 10 Republicans to sign on and pass this funding to help state, local, and tribal governments that have been slammed by the virus. Let's hope!

Vaccine Delivery

$20 billion to expand national vaccination programs, including a plan to set up community vaccination centers all over the country. In addition, there's $50 million to provide testing and finally get a national testing strategy in place.

The proposal also calls for hiring 100,000 new public health workers to vaccinate, test, and do contact tracing. There's also new funding to help control infections in long-term care facilities.

$15 Minimum Wage

Damn well about time. Also, this is yooge! Biden will also finally get rid of subminimum "training wages" for people with disabilities, an idea that was meant to get folks trained and ready for full-wage jobs, but ultimately led to people with disabilities being exploited and sometimes paid just pennies an hour.


Now the trick will be finding 10 Republicans willing to support the package. With all the turmoil in the GOP right now, that may actually be possible, who knows? Maybe Joe the Dealmaker has some favors to call in?

[CNN / Slate / Vox]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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