Next stimulus bill will cost ‘trillions of dollars’: $2,000 stimulus checks, unemployment benefits, more

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The Biden administration hopes to hit the ground running on for COVID assistance.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Congress at the end of last year agreed to a last-minute economic relief package that is sending $600 stimulus checks along with $300 additional federal unemployment aid through March. The hope was to bridge the country over what President-elect Joe Biden has called a “very dark winter” of staggering unemployment and growing COVID-19 cases, before passing another stimulus bill, which is expected to include a third stimulus bill, COVID-19 vaccine funding and more.

With millions of doses of coronavirus vaccine just now heading out to the 50 US states, Biden continues to say that the country will need more financial assistance in the spring to see the Americans through what some say could be many more months of recovery till the economy is back on its feet.

“It will be in the trillions of dollars,” Biden said Friday about the cost of the next stimulus bill. “The price tag will be high.”

“The overwhelming consensus among leading economists left, right and center is that in order to keep the economy from collapsing this year and getting much, much worse, we should be investing significant amounts of money right now to grow the economy,” Biden added.

The incoming president continues to refer to the aid Congress passed at the end of last year as a “down payment” for what his administration will propose once he takes office in a few weeks. Here are six areas Biden and the new Congress may look to go big in 2021.


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Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know



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A $2,000 third stimulus check

The IRS is just wrapping making the second round of payments for $600 to eligible Americans. But after approving the $600 amount at the end of last year, some in Congress immediately pushed to bump the payments to $2,000. While the effort failed, Biden will try again to get a third stimulus check approved as part of a broad economic rescue package.

“We need more direct relief flowing to families, small businesses, including finishing the job of getting people that $2,000 relief direct payment. $600 is simply not enough,” Biden added.

$600 weekly bonus unemployment benefits

The weekly $300 federal unemployment checks Congress approved in December as part of the $900 billion COVID-relief legislation are set to expire in March. During his presidential campaign, Biden pushed to reform the unemployment system and said he would work with Congress to extend the $600 unemployment benefits that had been authorized under last year’s CARES Act “for however long this crisis lasts.”

In the days leading up to his inauguration, Biden has not offered specifics on his plans for additional federal unemployment assistance — only saying more employment aid will be part of his rescue package —  but Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, who is the incoming chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said he has talked to the Biden administration about extending the payments, the Washington Post reported.

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Democrats will push to extend federal unemployment aid back to $600 extra per week.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Vaccine delivery

Along with economic support from American individuals, families and small businesses, Biden will push Congress  for funding for vaccine distribution. “I will immediately move for the most urgent need of asking the Congress to give me the financial wherewithal to deal with the virus,” Biden said on Friday. “I’m committed to get 100 million shots in people’s arms in the first 100 days.”

Minimum wage hike to $15 an hour

Biden has also said he would push for a rise in the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour. “It is time to raise the minimum wage,” Biden said Friday. “No one, no one should work as millions are doing today, 40 hours a week at a job, and still live below the poverty line. They are entitled to at least $15 minimum wage per hour.” It isn’t clear if Biden would include this is a COVID-rescue package or promote it separately.

Student loan forgiveness

On Friday, Biden administration officials said the incoming president would ask Congress to cancel $10,000 in student debt for all borrowers and extend the pause on student loan repayment, CNBC reported. As with the minimum wage, Biden didn’t say if he will ask Congress to tackle the loan forgiveness as part of the larger relief bill or separately.

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Biden has asked Congress to forgive student debt up to $10,000.


Sarah Tew/CNET

State and local aid

Along with expanding liability protections pushed by Republicans, Democratic support of funding for state, local and tribal governments was a major roadblock to reaching an agreement on a new economic assistance package through the second half of last year. With Democrats soon in control of the House, Senate and White House, Biden has pledged support for state and local funding as part of his administration’s relief package. 

Since the fall, economists have pushed for Congress to provide funding for state and local public jobs: “The case for additional aid is strong because the downside risk of doing nothing is quite real,” wrote the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, at the end of last year. “The fact that over 1 million state and local government workers have lost their jobs is a sign that fiscal distress has had real consequences.”

On Friday, Biden again expressed concern that state and local governments are “slashing  jobs” as a result of the pandemic and pledged to provide “immediate relief.”

Funding to reopen schools

A critical piece of the economic recovery is getting students back on campus. “We are also going to need tens of millions of dollars to help reopen our schools and open them safely, Biden said Friday.

We’ll continue to update this story as Biden reveals his detailed plans. For more information about stimulus money, here are op facts you need to know about stimulus checks, and here’s what you need to know about the federal unemployment assistance.

source: cnet.com

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