Washington: On the 50th day President Joe Biden has been in office, he had a major legislative victory Wednesday with the passing of the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package he favored. He is also buoyed by signs of an economic recovery after more than a year of the deadly ravage of the pandemic.
Biden signed the sweeping bill Thursday, a day ahead of schedule and in his first prime time address from the White House, he mourned the loss that the pandemic has exacted while also holding out hope moving forward if people get vaccinated – and by May 1 all adults will have access to vaccines – and show some discipline for some more time. “Then on July 4 we can have small get-togethers,” he promised.
The relief bill, called the American Rescue Plan, is the biggest financial aid package since the Great Depression of the 1930s and seeks to pull the nation from the depths of the coronavirus pandemic by infusing money into the economy at large and into the pockets of individuals.
Biden said in his address to the nation that he along with Vice President Kamala Harris will now travel the country to explain the package, whose immediate visible impact will be direct payments of $1,400 for individuals making less than $75,000 annually. Payments would phase out at $80,000 for individuals and $160,000 for married couples.
Enhanced unemployment benefits totaling $300 a week were set to expire on March 14, but are now restored.
The stimulus package temporarily increases the child tax credit to $3,000 or $3,600 per child for most families. Half of it will be paid in advance later this year.
The package will also lower some health insurance premiums, give housing and utility assistance and provide monetary help to many families with children.
The Plan will provide small businesses, restaurants and entertainment venues with loans and grants, help schools, bailout states and cities, assist public transportation and fund infrastructure projects.
But the progressives are ruing the fact that the package doesn’t include a proposed increase in the minimum wage to $15 over four years.