WILMINGTON, Del. – President-elect Joe Biden spoke to the nation Thursday night, addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy and unveiling a two-step plan of recovery that will cost $1.9 trillion.
“During this pandemic, millions of Americans, through no fault of their own have lost the dignity and respect that comes with a job and a paycheck,” Biden said from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. “There is real pain overwhelming the real economy.”
Biden called the pandemic and the economy the two biggest problems facing the nation.
Biden called for bipartisan support, emphasizing that the country needs “to move quickly, and we need to move now.”
“A crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight. There’s no time to waste,” Biden said. “We have to act and we have to act now.”
Biden’s proposed “American Rescue Plan” would administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccines by the 100th day of his administration. The plan would also deliver another round of economic aid to stabilize the economy.
That will include $1,400 checks for most Americans, which on top of $600 provided in the most recent COVID-19 bill would bring the total to the $2,000 that Biden has requested. The plan would also extend a temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September. Biden also called for a national minimum wage of $15 per hour.
“Let’s make sure our caregivers, mostly women, women of color, immigrants, have the same pay and dignity that they deserve,” Biden said.
Biden’s stimulus plan will include $160 billion in funding for vaccinations, COVID-19 testing and other health programs. It also will earmark $1 trillion in relief to families via direct payments and unemployment benefits. An additional $440 billion will be proposed to aid businesses and communities, and $350 billion for state, local and tribal communities.
Biden said he would unveil his vaccination plan on Friday.
“We will have to move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated,” Biden said.
Biden said the second part of his plan will be revealed next month when he addresses a joint session of Congress. The President-elect said he will propose the second half of the plan that will build upon the proposals he revealed Thursday night.
“We must act now, and we must act decisively,” Biden said.
Biden conceded the costs will be expensive. The relief package would be paid for with borrowed money, adding to trillions in debt the government has already incurred to battling the pandemic, The Associated Press reported.
“I know what I just described does not come cheaply, but we simply can’t afford not to do what I’m proposing,” Biden said. “If we invest now boldly, smartly, and with unwavering focus on American workers and families, we will strengthen our economy, reduce inequity and put our nation’s long-term finances on the most sustainable course.”