By Alfonso Fernandez
Washington, Dec 1 (efe-epa).- President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday promised that “help is on the way” to ensure “a recovery for everybody,” although at the same time he acknowledged the need for urgent action due to the serious damage and inequality caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden made his remarks at an event in Wilmington, Delaware, where he introduced top members of his economic team, headed by former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who he intends to install as secretary of the Treasury.
The former vice president also urged Congress to provide “immediate relief” for Americans as the coronavirus pandemic worsens and medical experts are predicting a surge in cases as colder weather takes hold.
“I know times are tough, but I want you to know that help is on the way,” Biden said in introducing his economic team, adding that these officials – who must be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate – will “move fast to revive this economy.”
Regarding another coronavirus relief package, Biden urged lawmakers to take action because “for millions of Americans who have lost their jobs or hours and have had to claim unemployment, we have to deliver them immediate relief.”
“Right now, the full Congress should come together and pass a robust package for relief to address these urgent needs,” Biden added. “But any package passed in a lame-duck session is likely to be, at best, just a start.”
As Biden turned over the podium to Yellen for her remarks, he said that there was nobody better prepared to deal with the crisis.
If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen would be the first female US Treasury secretary.
Biden’s other picks for his economic team include Neera Tanden, as director of the Office of Management and Budget; Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo for deputy treasury secretary, and Cecilia Rouse, as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, along with Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey, whom Biden has tapped to serve on the Council of Economic Advisers.
A large part of the $2.2 trillion fiscal stimulus package approved in March has concluded or is close to expiring, and thus one of Biden’s key actitivies in the days immediately after his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, will be to push for a new rescue package.
Biden’s remarks coincided with the presentation by a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill of a proposal for a new stimulus package valued at $908 billion to help alleviate the economic damage caused by the pandemic.
The 74-year-old Yellen, who served as Fed chair from 2014 to 2018, in her remarks said that inaction will bring about a self-reinforcing recession that will cause even more economic devastation, thus emphasizing the importance of increasing fiscal support to businesses and individuals.
The latest forecasts by the Fed are that the US economy will contract by 3.7 percent this year and 2020 will end with unemployment at 7.6 percent.
The US has suffered 268,000 Covid-19 deaths so far amid 13.5 million confirmed cases and is the country hardest hit by the pandemic.