A group of 120 economists pressed Congress on Thursday to back President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue proposal before much of the aid from the $900 billion stimulus deal runs out.
“Unfortunately, the steps taken by the previous administration and Congress were not enough to help families and businesses weather the storm, nor for our nation’s economy to fully recover,” the letter signed by the economists said. “It’s critical for Congress to immediately pass a new coronavirus relief package that will provide additional assistance to families and businesses struggling through a hard winter.”
Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion ‘rescue plan’ this month that includes $1,400 stimulus payments, an extension of key unemployment programs that lapse in March, $350 billion to state and local governments, an increase in tax credits for low- and middle-income families, and $160 billion for a national program on vaccination and testing.
The plan would also extend a federal moratorium on evictions and foreclosures until the end of September and allocate billions of dollars toward food insecurity.
“While the COVID relief package passed at the end of 2020 was better than nothing, it was too little and too late to address the enormity of the deteriorating situation,” according to the letter signed by Gene Sperling, former director of the National Economic Council under President Clinton and President Obama, and Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in economics, among others.
Biden said he hoped to pass his proposal with bipartisan support through both chambers of Congress, but numerous GOP senators have expressed concerns about the plan’s price tag as well as the rising deficit. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) called the $1.9 trillion price tag “pretty shocking” in an interview with Fox News on Sunday.
“There's a lot of money, and this isn't Monopoly money,” Sen. Angus King, (I-ME) said in an interview with NPR on Monday. “We're borrowing this money from our grandchildren.”
Suggesting that the county can’t afford more relief is what helped to “exacerbate and prolong the damage caused by the 2008 financial crisis,” the letter said.
“History shows that what our nation cannot afford is inaction or timidity in the face of what many consider to be the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression,” the letter said.
If Biden’s full $1.9 trillion plan is adapted by March, 10 million jobs would be added by the fall of 2022, according to estimates by Moody’s Analytics, enough to return the labor market to its pre-pandemic levels.
Additionally, over 11.6 million people would be lifted out of poverty in 2021 and child poverty would be cut in half if Biden’s plan is implemented, according to an analysis by Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy.
The Senate is expected to begin debating Biden’s relief plan next week. Meanwhile, Democrats are also readying the reconciliation process that would allow them to pass some of the relief provisions with 51 votes and wouldn’t require support from GOP senators, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
“The first step to pursuing COVID relief legislation to reconciliation would be to pass a budget resolution,” Schumer said at a press conference on Tuesday. “I informed senators to be prepared, that a vote on a budget resolution could come as early as next week.”