Thursday, October 21

Biden, before some aid for Covid that does not convince: «It is only the beginning»

New York Correspondent



Until late yesterday afternoon, the legislators who had not participated in the negotiations of the new stimulus package economic for Covid-19 -the majority- could not see the details of the agreement between Republicans and Democrats. It had been reached the day before and there were fringes to trim. When it was ready, the legislative text was so large that there were problems downloading and printing it. Almost 6,000 pages, between a new budget law – 1.4 trillion dollars – and the new package for the crisis of the pandemic, of 900,000 million dollars.

The incident left legislators very few hours to review a huge and of great importance and that they wanted to pass against the clock before the deadline of midnight. Another problem for a minimum agreement that leaves almost no one happy and that will be a hot potato when Joe Biden becomes president of the United States on January 20.

“This is just the beginning,” he acknowledged it’s a statement the president-elect after the agreement was known on Sunday. “There is a lot of work to do,” he added yesterday after getting the Covid vaccine in front of the cameras. At the event, he acknowledged that the Trump Administration “deserves credit” for developing the vaccine in record time and assured Americans that “they should be prepared to put it on when it’s their turn, there is nothing to fear.”

The deal against Covid is a more modest package than what was negotiated in the fall, before the presidential elections. The 900,000 million dollars do not give for ambitious proposalsLike the $ 2,000 checks to each American that Donald Trump pressed – which many of his Republican allies would have strongly opposed – or the multimillion-dollar local government aid that the Democrats sought.

At the end it includes checks for $ 600 per person, for those with incomes less than $ 75,000 a year, including minors. In other words, a family of four would receive a payment of $ 2,400. It also extends extra benefits to the unemployed at $ 300 a week for an eleven-week period (Democrats wanted it to be at least 16 weeks). Both amounts are half of what was approved in the spring, with checks of up to $ 1,200 per person and a grant increase of $ 600 per week.

In addition, the agreement includes other items: 327,000 million for aid to SMEs -including 275,000 million for a program to subsidize salaries-, 82,000 million for schools and colleges, 45,000 million for transportation, 13,000 million to expand the food program for the needy and 20,000 million to pay for the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine, a campaign that since yesterday has a second vaccine, Moderna, available.

Chef José Andrés’s protest

At the last minute some controversial provisions were included, such as the possibility for companies to deduct 100% of business lunches in taxes (so far, the deduction has been 50%), defended by the Republicans. Many Democrats protested calling it a “three-martini luncheon” grant for businessmen, while Republicans impeded aid to underprivileged Americans. Spanish cook José Andrés, who is an activist in the fight against hunger in the US, protested on Twitter: “Let executives go hungry, not American families!”

On the Republican bench, some legislators were protesting the excess of the aid package. One of them, Senator Pat Toomey, criticized that many who did not they have lost their job they will continue to receive checks. They did it in spring – it is estimated that 80% of citizens received some money – and it will also happen now.

But the Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, has defended that it is the best way to stimulate an economy, like the United States, which is based on consumption. “Direct payments reach the economy very quickly,” he said yesterday and defended that the aid package “has a bit of everything for everyone.”

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