Facing a record-breaking level of COVID-19 infections, Biden has a plan ready to help the US economy rebound.
COVID-19 cases continue to spike across the country, surpassing more than 11 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. Drug company Moderna announced Monday its vaccine is 94.5% effective against the virus in early results, while states and cities are considering instituting lockdowns to help slow the spread.
Meanwhile, the final string of economic protections will run out by the end of 2020 and won’t be renewed unless serious negotiations pick up and another stimulus package passes before Dec. 31. The White House appears to have backed away from its $1.9 trillion pre-election proposal. The top-ranking Democratic and Republican lawmakers — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, respectively, have reportedly not spoken about the stimulus, yet top leaders across the spectrum have been calling for more aid — including President-elect Joe Biden and President Donald Trump.
On Saturday, Trump tweeted support for a new stimulus bill that is both large and focused, a seeming contradiction. With Republicans and Democrats at odds (the House of Representatives returns to Washington on Monday), the timing of a new stimulus bill before Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20 is still up in the air.
Despite the uncertainty, Biden has laid out a plan to address the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the US economy, starting with a COVID-19 task force and a new set of strategies that complement a similar plan Biden released during his presidential campaign.
“One of the urgent things that need to be done is people need relief right now,” Biden said Nov. 10, Business Insider reported, stressing that his plans won’t take effect until his swearing-in.
Below, we examine everything Biden may be planning, whether new stimulus aid passes before the end of 2020.
A second round of stimulus checks
The CARES Act, passed in March, was the first stimulus package intended to help people financially affected by the pandemic. One of the most popular aspects of the act was a stimulus check of up to $1,200 sent out to more than 160 million Americans. That direct aid caused a jump in household spending, helped millions at risk of slipping into poverty and allowed others to save.
Biden’s plan, like the one Trump has backed, will include more direct stimulus payments, but it doesn’t specify how many or for how much, or if any of the qualifications would change. Democrats and Republicans are currently negotiating for more stimulus relief that would include another round of direct payments, but the clock is ticking to get a bill passed.
A boost to unemployment benefits
COVID-19 lockdowns across cities led to an unprecedented spike in unemployment, with more than 20 million people having lost their jobs back in May. To help those unemployed suddenly, the CARES Act provided a weekly bonus payment of $600 on top of unemployment benefits provided by the states. These extra funds expired at the end of July, and Trump restarted a smaller version of the bonus in August via an executive memo. This temporary relief provided $300 extra for six weeks and has since been exhausted; only a new stimulus package would provide more funds.
Biden’s plan doesn’t go into specifics about how much funding may be available. It does say a bill would improve unemployment benefits.
More Social Security money per month
There were no measures to boost Social Security in the CARES Act or in other relief packages since then. Biden’s stimulus plan calls for an additional $200 to be added to the monthly payments that go to Social Security recipients.
Forgiveness of student loan debt
Included in the CARES Act was a forbearance for student loans. Individuals who owed money wouldn’t need to make payments or see any interest accrue until “the end of September,” according to Biden’s stimulus vision. If implemented in the future, there would, of course, be a different cutoff date.
Back in August, Trump extended the forbearance until the end of 2020. Biden’s plan goes a different direction by offering a loan forgiveness of a $10,000 minimum. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a Democrat and former presidential candidate, outlined a plan to forgive the federal student loan debt back in September.
Biden’s plan would also include:
- More money for small businesses
- Emergency sick leave for everyone who needs it
- Fiscal relief for states
- No out-of-pocket money for COVID-19 testing, treatment and an eventual vaccine