Breaking Down Biden's American Rescue Plan
When President Biden took office in January of 2021, he committed to sending help to those most in need. This commitment began to take shape, transforming into the American Rescue Plan. This plan includes sending aid to many communities, businesses, and individuals hardest hit by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, including individual stimulus checks.
What else is included in this $1.9 trillion plan penned by the White House? I’ll run you through all of the major highlights of this proposal and break down each major component so you fully understand what this new administration hopes to accomplish.
- Creating a national coronavirus vaccination plan and improve access to testing
- Offering assistance to the hardest hit communities and groups
- Implementing 100,000 new public health jobs
- Providing additional resources to long-term care facility employees
- Introduce better safety efforts in state and federal prisons
- Ensuring frontline workers have adequate PPE
- Advancing COVID-19 research
- Supporting global efforts to combat COVID-19
- Helping schools safely reopen
- Implementing paid leave programs
- Provide stimulus checks to individuals and families in need
- Boosting tax credits for families
- Extending unemployment benefits
- Offering assistance to homeowners, renters, and small landlords
- Addressing the food security crisis
- Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour
- Providing affordable child care and relief to child care workers
- Expanding health insurance coverage
- Making access to behavioral health resources more accessible
- Expanding veteran health benefits
- Supporting Tribal responses to COVID-19
- Providing funding for gender-based violence
- Offering another round of PPP to small businesses
- The bottom line
President Biden’s American Rescue Plan
The American Rescue Plan is the new White House administration’s response to the economic crisis stemmed from the coronavirus outbreak that has financially impacted millions of Americans. It’s a legislative proposal that has not been approved and likely will not be approved in its entirety.
Since this plan is quite extensive and lengthy, I’ll provide a quick overview below to help you get a better understanding of what this plan will provide:
- Aid for low-income individuals in the form of stimulus checks, eviction and forbearance protections, increased efforts to speed up vaccinations and testing, unemployment extensions and increases, guaranteed paid leave extensions, health care expansion, boosting the minimum wage, childcare financial assistance efforts, and food security protections.
- Assistance for the hardest-hit communities in the form of emergency funding for programs, PPE, virus tests, and vaccine supplies, and food security responses.
- A plan for reopening schools by providing funding so schools can prepare to reopen while keeping staff and students safe.
- Help for small businesses in the form of PPP, providing funding to child care businesses, and offering small landlords aid.
- General aid in the form of new public health jobs, creating a national vaccination program, increasing testing efforts, more focus on studying the effects of the coronavirus, and solidifying the country’s place in the global community.
Here’s what currently is a part of this proposed stimulus plan.
Creating a national coronavirus vaccination plan and improve access to testing
This plan proposes ramping up vaccinations for the general public, in order to achieve herd immunity faster. This program would partner with states, territories, and Tribes, in order to speed up the vaccination process. In addition, under this program, all vaccinations will be free of charge to both U.S. citizens and immigrants, regardless of status.
In addition, this plan would expand COVID-19 testing to ensure these tests are accessible by all communities. This proposal notes that scaling up testing is imperative to decrease the spreading of this virus and begin to safely open up schools.
Offering assistance to the hardest hit communities and groups
Although no part of the country is safe from COVID-19, many communities and groups of color were among the hardest hit. To address this disparity, the White House proposes ensuring these communities receive their fair share of testing kits and vaccines, while also providing additional funding to health centers and community health programs to support ongoing COVID-19 care, prevention, and awareness efforts.
Implementing 100,000 new public health jobs
In order to achieve the White House’s ambitious vaccination and testing efforts, new public health jobs will need to be created. Another section of this proposal plans to fund and create over 100,000 new public healthcare jobs to fulfill this need. These positions will help promote vaccine outreach and contact tracing initially, and could transition into community health positions long term. These new jobs will be placed primarily in underserved areas of the country and communities that were the hardest hit by COVID-19.
Providing additional resources to long-term care facility employees
Next, this plan proposes funding to provide protection and resources to workers in long-term care facilities, who are primarily Black and Latina women that were already impacted by the pandemic at higher rates than others. This funding would allow the government to send out strike teams to help workers in these facilities manage COVID-19 outbreaks and offer resources to mitigate future infection spreads.
Introduce better safety efforts in state and federal prisons
This next initiative serves to offer better supplies, resources, and construction to allow COVID-19 safety precautions be put into effect in prisons. Nearly 20% of prisoners have been infected with COVID-19 and these measures would aim to protect more incarcerated individuals, create policies for safely releasing prisoners, and ensure prisoners and staff are vaccinated.
Ensuring frontline workers have adequate PPE
Frontline and essential workers take risks every day, and are often the individuals struggling to source adequate protective materials to stay safe during the pandemic. This part of the proposal addresses the shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) that are halting or slowing down testing and vaccine efforts for the coronavirus. To help, this proposal would send $30 billion to the Disaster Relief Fund as well as provide emergency responses resources to states, communities, and Tribes. Another $10 billion would also be used to fund the production of additional PPE and other pandemic-related materials.
Advancing COVID-19 research
In order to help slow the spread of COVID-19, while working on new treatments and preventative measures, the White House is proposing spending money to track how this virus is changing and mutating. This part of the proposal would also spend money and effort tracking changes in how the virus is spreading through communities.
In addition, the government would invest in further medical research to develop and test treatments for those diagnosed with COVID-19. Part of this plan includes ensuring treatments are accessible for all Americans. More research into the long-term side effects of this virus would also be explored.
Supporting global efforts to combat COVID-19
Another main facet of this proposal is solidifying the United States as a leader in the global community by providing money to the international health and humanitarian efforts, reduce the pandemic’s effect on global communities, health, food access, and gender-related violence, and lender support to global sources as new vaccines, treatments, and studies are brought forth.
Helping schools safely reopen
The White House also wants to provide $170 billion to states and local governments to help prepare schools to safely reopen. This could provide materials needed to safely social distance, as well as PPE, to keep students, staff, and faculty safe. Many remote learning efforts have greatly impacted the lives of African American and Hispanic students, those with disabilities, and English language learners — this plan would aim to safely open schools again to prevent furthering these gaps. It would also provide the most money to the hardest-hit communities.
Implementing paid leave programs
One problem many Americans are facing is how to take off from work without losing pay or compromising their job if they suspect they have COVID-19 or are diagnosed with the virus. The White House wants to reinstate the paid sick leave requirement that was enacted in 2020 via the Families First Coronavirus Response Act for all businesses, expand sick leave benefits, and ensure this relief bill also includes federal workers. The maximum paid sick leave benefit would be $1,400 per week and this measure would retire on September 30th, 2021.
Provide stimulus checks to individuals and families in need
The third stimulus check proposed by the White House would offer individuals $1,400 and married couples $2,800, while also paying an additional $1,400 per dependent. This stimulus payment will have an income limit (which is still being determined) and is expected to apply to all dependents, not just those under 17. This benefit would also allow many non-citizens to receive aid, if their children or spouse are legal U.S. citizens. The stimulus check would most likely be a direct payment (direct deposit). While Congress is working to push this part of the plan through quickly, the specifics are still being reviewed and debated by Democrats and Republicans.
Boosting tax credits for families
Biden’s plan would also help families by boosting two important tax credits — the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit. This proposal would raise the income limit to receive the earned income tax credit to $21,000 (from $16,000) and would boost the credit to $1,500. The child tax credit would be raised to $3,000 and provide an additional $600 for children under 6 years old.
Extending unemployment benefits
Many Americans are still without jobs and unable to find work — as a result, the White House wants to extend unemployment benefits and unemployment insurance, while including an additional $400 per week payment for those hit the hardest financially by the coronavirus. The White House also wants to extend this benefit to self-employed workers, grocery delivery service workers, and rideshare drivers.
Offering assistance to homeowners, renters, and small landlords
With many Americans out of work and struggling to pay bills, affording mortgage and rent payments is a huge concern. The White House has proposed preventing evictions and placing foreclosure moratoriums for the hardest hit Americans until September 30th, 2021. In addition, $30 billion would be provided in rental relief, while another $5 billion would be issued to help secure housing for those who are currently homeless or in danger of becoming homeless. Lastly, this part of the proposal would also provide rental assistance aid to small landlords to ensure they’re able to cover their tenants housing costs.
Addressing the food security crisis
One often overlooked problem that intensified during the pandemic is the food security crisis in American. In fact, the White House reports that 1 in 7 households are unable to secure food for themselves or their families. Government help is being proposed in the form of:
- Extended and increased SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits
- Additional funding for WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children)
- Partnerships with American restaurants to help address this issue while keeping restaurant workers in business
- Food relief for families in Puerto Rico, Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour
One of the most controversial parts of the American Rescue Plan is the call to increase the national minimum wage to $15 per hour. Many Americans cannot afford to support their families, rent or buy a home, and access food while working minimum wage jobs — this proposal is a plan to remedy this problem/
Providing affordable child care and relief to child care workers
Childcare has been a major concern during the pandemic, with many facilities forced to close due to safety concerns. This measure would provide these businesses relief while helping child care centers to reopen safely. This proposal also aims to provide child care assistance to many families unable to afford this service.
Expanding health insurance coverage
The White House has called for additional coverage through COBRA to help extend health insurance for families through September 2021. Efforts to reduce health insurance premiums are also included in this part of the proposal.
Making access to behavioral health resources more accessible
This part of the proposal calls for $4 billion in funding for mental, behavioral, and substance abuse health programs and services.
Expanding veteran health benefits
In addition, this proposal asks for $20 billion in order to ensure any veteran without health insurance or facing financial struggles receives full access to the medical care they require.
Supporting Tribal responses to COVID-19
The federal government also hopes to send funds to Tribal governments that can be used to provide medical care, PPE and supplies, and vaccination and testing for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Providing funding for gender-based violence
Lockdown measures have increased the number of sexual assault and domestic violence incidents, particularly against women and girls. The White House is asking for $800 million to fund programs designed to help and protect abuse survivors.
Offering another round of PPP to small businesses
Small businesses have been struggling during the pandemic, with revenue down by 32%. This package intends to provide another round of funding to struggling small businesses in the form of Paycheck Protection Programs (PPP). This would include $15 billion in grants to help the businesses most impacted by COVID-19 and another $35 billion in low-interest loans and investments.
The bottom line
President Biden’s American Rescue Plan is an ambitious attempt to quickly bring aid to those who need it most in the form of financial assistance and medical care. It’s also designed to slowly put the country on a path towards economic recovery.
While expensive, this relief package is expected to pass in some format, though many of the above sections will likely be changed, negotiated, or removed in order to make it through the House and the Senate. A third stimulus is expected to pass, most likely for $1,400, though this cannot be confirmed at the time.