President-elect Joseph R. Biden said Thursday that there’s almost no such thing as spending too much money right now given the “twin crises” of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated economic fallout.
“There’s no time to waste. We have to act, and we have to act now,” Mr. Biden said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware. “We cannot afford inaction.”
Mr. Biden unveiled additional details about the $1.9 trillion rescue package he released Thursday. The plan is designed to combat COVID-19 and mitigate the economic damage the public health crisis has caused.
“It’s not just that smart fiscal investments, including deficit spending, are more urgent than ever - it’s that the return on these investments in jobs, racial equity will prevent long-term economic damage,” he said. “The benefits will far surpass the cost[s].”
Mr. Biden suggested that hiking taxes can at least partially balance the books.
“As I said on the campaign trail, we will pay for [it] by making sure that everyone pays their fair share,” he said. “Asking everyone to pay their fair share at the top so we can make permanent investments to rescue and rebuild America.”
He said tackling the virus is a prerequisite for getting back to normal.
“Here’s the deal: the more people we vaccinate, the faster we do it, the sooner we can save lives and put this pandemic behind us and get back to our lives and our loved ones,” he said.
The plan includes about $1 trillion in direct aid to individuals, which includes direct payments of $1,400 for qualifying Americans.
His plan also includes $350 billion in aid for cash-strapped states and localities, which is likely to be a sticking point with congressional Republicans.
It includes more than $400 billion in COVID-19-related spending, including $160 billion for vaccines, testing, and other priorities.
The nearly $2 trillion in spending, which is likely to generate pushback from Republicans and fiscal hawks in Congress, is intended to be the first part of a multi-pronged effort.
Mr. Biden said he plans to address a joint session of Congress soon to lay out his spending priorities in other areas like infrastructure, manufacturing, and clean energy.
Conservatives swiftly pushed back on the $1.9 trillion proposal.
Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of the Job Creators Network, took particular aim at Mr. Biden‘s desire to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
“With small businesses finally turning a corner as vaccinations put the end of the pandemic in sight, now is the worst possible time to burden job creators with this job-killing mandate,” he said.
Mr. Ortiz suggested crafting a more tailored bill that retains an expansion of the popular earned income tax credit, which is in Mr. Biden‘s plan.