Biden’s $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan – Hard Pressed (#131)
On Saturday, March 6th, 2021, President Joe Biden, and the Democrats in the Senate, managed to get his signature $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan passed after a marathon session which went through Friday night and well into Saturday, before squeaking through on a highly partisan basis, with a vote of 51 to 49 for the Democrats (one Republican Senator was absent), with not a single Republican supporting it. In fact, the Republicans used every legislative trick in the book to try and stall, delay, and derail the desperately needed massive relief package that was supported by the majority of the American people, including 3 out of 10 Republicans.
But in the deeply ideologically divided America it is not the good of the American people that drives the Republican lawmakers, but their visceral hatred for everything the Democrats stand for, which is a more inclusive America, with greater equality for all, racially and economically.
So the fact that every bi-partisan poll showed that Biden’s Rescue Plan was supported by the majority of Americans did not faze the Republicans as they did their best to scuttle the package purely on ideological grounds - as their economic arguments, which called for substantially reduced relief on all fronts, did not only not meet with the American people’s wishes but went against most major economist’s recommendations, which called for a ‘Big, Bold’ rescue plan to deal with the very significant struggles of the millions of Americans still out of work, and with the general health and economic crisis brought on by the Corona Virus pandemic.
There was one dissenting Democrat voice in the Senate which had to be brought into the fold by President Biden and Majority leader Chuck Schumer, that of their most conservative Senator, Joe Manchin, by conceding some ground in the supplemental unemployment insurance from $400 to $300 per month, but the duration was extended with the lower payment. There were some other compromises made, but all-in-all, the $1.9 Trillion rescue plan passed intact.
As with any bold plan regarding a lot of money, Biden’s rescue plan has plenty of detractors.
Apart from the Republican lawmakers who oppose pretty much everything Democrat on principle, there are many who question the size of the rescue package, citing concerns that there will be poorly targeted spending resulting in massive waste and long-term unproductive debt. While the concerns of waste in government spending is always a concern, it is hardly anything new to the US Government where Trillions have been blown away in disastrous wars, and more Trillions wasted with energetic help from defense-contractors on war machines that never worked, or never materialized as deliverables, like the infamous F-35 stealth fighter plane program, to name just one legendary example (Spent over $1.5 Trillion to-date with still no planes in service). The list of gargantuan waste of the US Government is so vast that it does not merit cataloging here, suffice it to say, from the Republican favorite pastime in crony capitalism that results in Trillions in give-a-ways to the rich and big business, to the Pentagon’s famous $100 hammers, the list goes on till it amounts to the US Government’s heavily indebted balance sheet topping $20 Trillion, before Biden’s administration ever came to power.
America is still in the throes of the Corona Virus induced pandemic. This pandemic triggered the greatest economic crisis which is compared credibly to the 1929 Great Depression, and easily surpasses it in the speed and ferocity of its damage to jobs, businesses, and to the economy as a whole. Such severe damage warrants swift and decisive action in relief and damage mitigating programs to organizations, businesses, individuals, and families; and in this case, even to States and Cities, as their tax-base got suddenly decimated while their costs rose dramatically in trying to address the crisis. The Biden Rescue Plan seeks to address this damage to the Country.
By March 14th, if the Bill passes the final approval by Congress as it is anticipated to do, the Biden administration hopes to be sending much needed $1400 cheques to most Americans. While there is criticism that families earning relatively high incomes don’t need the assistance, most working families do, and will benefit by it. [Most wealthy Americans don’t need additional tax breaks (they are ‘wealthy’) but they get them from Republican anyway, even in good times].
Millions of Americans are still out of work in spite of the job markets improving slowly over the past months. The Biden administration is extending the unemployment insurance benefits past its pending expiry mid-March with supplemental $300 per week till September.
There is money in support of parents and children, and for those that are providing care for children under 18 years of age, in a year’s worth of Child Tax Credits given in advance.
There is approximately $70 Billion in improving and establishing testing centers and in advancing vaccination programs. The States in particular are in desperate need of these funds. There is $170 Billion in helping schools and universities prepare for reopening with better virus protection and safety protocols, and $350 Billion for the States and local governments.
There are desperately needed funds for small business support, and for governments and health support. All in all, whilst there is partisan quibbling on amounts and targets of spending, it is quite obvious that such a comprehensive relief plan was needed to bolster hard pressed areas of the American economy and assist it in a quicker recovery than was possible otherwise.
This was Biden’s key promise, to bring immediate help to the American people. And although there were plenty of obstacles thrown in the way, and more no doubt will be thought of, it is a major victory for President Joe Biden and the Democrats, and may well be the strong booster-shot needed by the country to start shaking off the ill effects of the Corona Virus pandemic.