‘No time to waste’: Biden announces $1.9 trillion plan to revive US economy

By Laura Barros

Washington, Jan 14 (efe-epa).- United States president-elect Joe Biden announced on Thursday an ambitious $1.9 trillion plan to re-float the US economy and curb the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has already taken more than 380,000 lives and infected 23.3 million people in the country.

“It’s not hard to see that we’re in the middle of a once-in-several-generations economic crisis with a once-in-several-generations public health crisis. A crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight and there’s no time to waste,” Biden said from Delaware in a speech to the country.

“We have to act and we have to act now,” said the Democratic leader who will take office as the 46th president of the United States on Jan. 20.

Biden regretted that during the pandemic “millions of Americans lost the dignity and respect associated with their work and salary, regardless of their fault. There is real pain that overwhelms the real economy.”

And he also warned about the situation of “millions” of unemployed people who now face the possibility of eviction or must receive assistance from food banks. Among other figures, he said that 18 million Americans still depend on unemployment benefits and that some 400,000 small businesses have closed.

In that context, Biden announced a two-step rescue and recovery plan, which he hopes will serve as a bridge to the other side of the crisis. The incoming leader indicated that the first step will be the ‘”American Rescue Plan’ that will tackle the pandemic and get direct financial assistance and relief to Americans who need it the most.”

His second step, which he called the “Build Back Better” recovery plan, will be laid out in February during a joint session of Congress and will include “historic investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, innovation, and research and development in clean energy.”

Biden referred to the urgency of curbing the spread of the pandemic, which has hit the US hard, and lamented that the roll-out of vaccines in the country has been a “dismal failure.”

“Tomorrow I will roll out our vaccination plan to correct course and meet our goal of 100 million shots at the end of my first 100 days as president,” he said.

He also promised to address “the growing hunger crisis” in the US and support 14 million people who have fallen behind in paying their rent, warning that if they do not act there will be a wave of evictions and foreclosures in the coming months.

“In this pandemic in America, we cannot let people go hungry, we cannot let people get evicted, we cannot watch nurses, educators and others lose their jobs, we so badly need them. We must act now, and we must act decisively,” Biden said.

His plan aims to lift 12 million Americans out of poverty and cut child poverty in half, which he estimated affects 5 million minors.

The initiative, which must be endorsed by Congress, as with previously approved packages, includes a round of direct stimulus payments of $1,400 and bringing unemployment insurance supplements to $400 per week through September.

It allocates $160 billion for a national vaccination program, including 20 billion for distribution and 50 billion for expanded testing.

It also proposes to invest $170 billion in schools and higher education, including $130 billion to ensure that educational establishments can reopen safely despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill plans to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and stipulates $350 billion in emergency funding for state and local governments.

In December, Congress approved an economic stimulus package worth $900 billion dollars, and in March lawmakers had endorsed another aid plan, worth $3 trillion, the largest in the history of the country. EFE-EPA


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