President-elect Joe Biden caused controversy this week, after claiming that his administration will prioritize black and other ethnic minority businesses in his new American Rescue Plan.
Mr. Biden stated that these businesses would be at the front to receive aid from his administration, completely neglecting white-owned businesses who made need aid sooner than other businesses, causing a backlash online.
However, today, the President-elect, who takes office next week, announced his plans to get the American economy back on track; with a comprehensive $1.9 billion spending plan.
This plan is due to build upon the $3 trillion plan that was passed by the government in March, as part of the initial response to the pandemic.
The end of 2020 saw President Trump’s $900 billion plan, which handed out stimulus checks of $600 to Americans who needed them, and increased unemployment benefits to those who struggled to find work.
The initial plan in December was due to send $2000 worth of stimulus checks out to the public, however, House Democrats added this in alongside an enormous defense bill which saw vast amounts of American tax dollars being sent abroad.
The bill wasn’t passed.
So, what are the key parts of Biden’s plan?
President-elect Biden, as part of his American Rescue Plan, wants to ensure that every eligible citizen is able to get access to $2000 stimulus checks, in order to keep a fractured economy moving.
An increase of $1400 could prove a “saving grace” for some who are currently struggling to make ends meet, and was first called for by President Trump in December.
The plan also includes an increase to federal unemployment benefits by $100 to $400 from the initial $300 that was granted in the December plan, whilst also seeing the return of emergency paid leave from work of up to 14 weeks.
The reintroduction of this scheme will help desperate parents who have seen their child’s school remain closed at the start of this year and who are unable to work from home.
Increase in the minimum wage
However, these crucial aids will end in March of this year.
Biden’s new plan extends these payments and benefits until September, giving enough time to roll out the vaccines to enough Americans in order to reopen the economy and finally end the Covid-19 crisis.
The American economy has been hit hard, with at least 700,000 people claiming unemployment benefits per week due to state lockdowns and business closures, which sees at least a 22million Americans now unemployed as a direct result of the pandemic.
Biden believes this plan will help Americans get back on their feet when the time comes.
President-elect Biden also wants to see an increase to the current minimum wage, raising it to at least $15 per hour.
However, the measure goes against Biden’s plan to help kickstart small businesses with a $15billion grant being made available to small business owners to help them survive the tough winter months.
Still, this grant will be ineffective if Congress decides to pass a new $15 minimum wage, as many small businesses rely on lower-paid workers to ease the financial burden, which will be even greater when it comes to reopening after the pandemic has ended.
The American Rescue Plan is an ambitious one and could possibly restart the economy, restore jobs, and protect livelihoods.
Unfortunately, it is unrealistic to expect it to be passed and signed during the first day in office, especially after the House rushed through the impeachment of the outgoing President.