Joe Biden presents Thursday the bases of the next package of economic aid, which should allow the United States to emerge from the worst crisis the country has known since the 1930s, while millions of Americans are still unemployed.
The future president has promised “trillions of dollars” and to act quickly. That is to say upon his arrival at the White House on January 20.
The priority: accelerate the pace of vaccinations, he explained last week at a press conference in his stronghold of Wilmington, Delaware.
Because economists agree that the pace of the economic recovery will follow that of the vaccination of the population against Covid-19.
But it will take months for restaurants, bars, hotels and even airlines to regain a decent level of activity. And until then, the economy will still need support.
“It is necessary to spend money now,” Joe Biden said, referring to a plan that will run into “trillions of dollars”.
This massive aid must prevent the crisis from becoming self-sustaining, with a virus that still restricts the activity of small businesses, causing layoffs, which limits purchasing power, and therefore consumption, and again l business activity.
Unemployment remained stable in December at 6.7%, but it was the first time that the situation had not improved since May.
Worse, 140,000 jobs were lost in the last month of 2020, which means that many discouraged unemployed people have stopped looking for work and are therefore out of the numbers.
Almost 20 million Americans are still receiving help for unemployment or loss of income, all assistance programs combined.
– “Advance payment” –
A new aid plan of 900 billion dollars was adopted at the end of December. Insufficient, according to the future host of the White House, who repeated several times that it would only be a “deposit”.
He added: “we need more direct support for families and small businesses.”
The Americans, who received at the beginning of January 600 dollars per person subject to income, could therefore receive a new check but the amount of which is unknown. Mr Biden had repeatedly said he was in favor of a check for $ 2,000 before the latest stimulus package was passed.
In addition, “tens of billions of dollars” are needed according to Joe Biden to allow local and national authorities to maintain the employment of educators, police, firefighters and public health workers. Funds to allow schools to reopen are also needed, according to the Democrat.
The future president could also announce an increase in the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, more than double the current $ 7.25.
“I have been saying for a long time that we must reward work and not wealth in this country,” he commented.
It is unclear whether Mr Biden, whose campaign program called for higher taxes for the nation’s largest businesses and people earning more than $ 400,000 a year, will bring up the tax.
– Vote in Congress –
The adoption of the measures wanted by the Democrat is based on Congress, where the Democrats will have a tiny majority, especially in the Senate, which means that the future president cannot afford to defect to his camp.
It will be up to Janet Yellen, who is expected to become Secretary of the Treasury – the equivalent of the Minister of Economy and Finance – to lead the negotiations with elected officials on behalf of the government.
Ms. Yellen will be heard next Tuesday by the Senate, which will then have to decide on her appointment.
If this new stimulus plan is ratified, it risks slipping further public finances, which posted a record deficit between October and December.
A first stimulus plan, the Cares Act, adopted in less than two weeks at the end of March, when the Covid-19 pandemic had put a brutal brake on economic activity, contributed to an increase in public spending.
Aid to the unemployed, loans to small businesses, direct checks to households, …: with 2,200 billion dollars released, this was the largest economic support plan in the history of the United States.
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