By Amy Enberg
The COVID-19 pandemic has no doubt caused financial struggles for many Americans. According to the University of New Hampshire Carsey School of Public Policy, Florida alone has lost 5.1% of jobs from February to December of 2020.
President Biden proposed a plan to combat this economic impact. The “American Rescue Plan” is described on whitehouse.gov as an “Emergency Legislative Package to Fund Vaccinations, Provide Immediate, Direct Relief to Families Bearing the Brunt of the COVID-19 Crisis, and Support Struggling Communities.”
There are three major parts of the plan, all aiming to confront the inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic.
First, the American Rescue Plan aims to create a national vaccination program, setting up vaccination sites, increasing testing and tracing, and providing paid sick leave to those infected with the virus, among other things.
Second, the American Rescue Plan aims to send $1400 per-person checks to American households, along with increasing the minimum wage, providing childcare, healthcare, housing assistance, and nutritional assistance, and giving families with children and childless workers an emergency boost.
Third, the American Rescue Plan aims to support hard-hit small businesses and protect first responders and essential workers’ jobs. It will also provide emergency funding to upgrade federal technology in light of the Department of Defense hacks.
One piece of the plan that will be extra important to college students is expanding the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. The President aims to provide $35 billion in funding to public institutions, community colleges, and universities, which will allow those institutions to provide up to an additional $1700 in financial assistance to some students.
Though some states have already passed legislation raising the minimum wage to $15, Biden’s plan proposed that the federal minimum wage is also increased to $15. However, this was amended out of the bill during the Senate’s debate on passing the budget resolution.
The budget resolution was passed by the House this past Wednesday and by the Senate on Friday. As a result, Democrats could pass the aid bill without Republican support, only needing a simple majority to vote in favor.
The $1.9 trillion stimulus package has received mixed reactions in Congress and across the United States. Biden met with GOP leaders who proposed a $618 billion plan, but no compromise was reached.
According to a Congressional Budget Office report, the GDP is expected to return to its pre-pandemic levels by mid-2021. Though this may be used as justification for not acting on the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, it is unclear whether that projection accounts for disparities in growth between small businesses and large corporations and whether middle- and working-class Americans will see that increase.
Editor-in-Chief of the Compass