- Biden is pushing a $US1.9 trillion stimulus plan to form the basis of the administration’s negotiations with Congress.
- The White House wants to move swiftly to address the economic, health, and political crises.
- Some measures that could add cash to people’s wallets are new stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment aid, and a $US15 minimum wage.
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President Joe Biden is inheriting economic, political, and health crises that will test his administration early on.
Biden has said he intends to pursue an ambitious legislative agenda during his first year in office. Last week, he rolled out a $US1.9 trillion stimulus plan that will form the basis for negotiations with Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
The rescue package is aimed at providing economic relief for individuals, small businesses, and state and local governments.
Here are four measures in the stimulus proposal that could put extra cash in your wallet.
$US1,400 stimulus checks
Tens of millions of Americans would receive a $US1,400 boost to the $US600 stimulus checks that the IRS distributed in late December and early January. That would bring the total amount to $US2,000.
Before the runoff elections in Georgia earlier this month, Biden pledged to boost the direct payments. Democrats won both races, giving the party a narrow majority in the Senate.
Some progressives are pushing Biden to send a full $US2,000 check instead.
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$US400 federal unemployment benefits through September
Biden’s proposal includes a $US400 weekly federal supplement to state unemployment checks for several more months.
A pandemic aid package approved by Congress and President Donald Trump included a $US300 federal benefit until March 14.
Other unemployment programs for freelancers (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) and people who’ve exhausted their state benefits (Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation) were extended until mid-March as well.
People drawing benefits from the PUA or PEUC programs who may be entitled to additional weeks can continue receiving payouts until April 5.
Increased child tax credits
Biden’s proposal includes a measure to bolster child tax credits and make them fully refundable for a year, meaning people could receive them regardless of what they owe in taxes:
- $US3,000 for each child 17 and under (up from $US2,000)
- $US3,600 for kids under age 6
Parents could receive the credit from the federal government after they file their taxes, though it could also be structured as a monthly payment.
Currently, the credit is capped at $US1,400 for people who don’t owe at least that amount on their tax bill.
During her confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Janet Yellen, Biden’s pick for treasury secretary, told lawmakers on the Senate finance committee that she would “certainly explore with the IRS” whether it was possible to deliver the cash monthly.
$US15 minimum wage
Biden’s plan includes a provision to more than double the federal minimum wage, to $US15 an hour; Congress hasn’t raised it from $US7.25 in over a decade. But a timeline remains unclear.
Republicans staunchly oppose it, saying people could lose their jobs as many small businesses are filing for bankruptcy and laying off workers because of the pandemic.
The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan government agency, forecast that 27 million workers could get a pay boost with the measure. It also projected that 1.3 million employees would be lifted out of poverty but that an equal number of jobs would be lost.
In 2019, the Democratic-led House approved a plan to gradually lift the federal minimum wage to $US15 an hour by 2025.
A growing body of research has indicated that some state and city wage increases in recent years didn’t set back employers’ ability to hire more workers. Evidence of job losses has not been consistent.
Yellen, a former Federal Reserve chair, said in her confirmation hearing that job losses were generally “very minimal” in states that raised workers’ pay.
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