Biden calls on local governments to give out $100 to anyone getting the COVID-19 vaccine

Two vials labelled Coronavirus vaccine and a syringe seen displayed on one hundred US dollar banknotes.
Two vials labelled Coronavirus vaccine and a syringe seen displayed on one hundred US dollar banknotes.

  • Biden is calling for local governments to offer $100 to people getting the first shot of the vaccine.
  • The US Treasury Department said governments should use COVID relief funds to pay for the incentives.
  • The announcement comes amid increased concern over the spread of the Delta variant.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden is calling on state, territorial, and local governments to offer $100 to anyone getting newly vaccinated, according to a statement from the US Treasury Department.

The push comes amid increased concern over the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 57.2% of all Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

The CDC announced new recommendations on Tuesday, recommending people wear masks indoors in areas with “substantial or high” COVID transmission rates. Some cities are also starting to pay people to get a shot.

New York City announced on Wednesday that it would be providing a $100 vaccine incentive to anyone getting their first dose starting on Friday.

The announcement said Biden wants the new program to be funded with $350 billion in state and local relief funding from the stimulus law. It passed with only Democratic support in March.

It’s unclear how many state and local governments will take up the administration’s new proposed initiative. Lawmakers are already eyeing repurposing roughly $200 billion in unspent coronavirus relief funding to finance a bipartisan infrastructure deal. Many states have already parceled out their aid to cover the cost of providing healthcare or paying the salaries of essential workers. Some like California provided direct payments to their residents.

Earlier this year, 14 Democratic state treasurers sent a letter to lawmakers urging Congress against “clawing back” stimulus funds for infrastructure.

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Parents could get a $300 check this week from the government thanks to the revamped child tax credit

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • The IRS will start sending advance child tax credit payments on July 15.
  • Monthly payments for families will be issued until December, with the remainder sent at tax time.
  • It amounts up to $300 per child, depending on the age.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The federal government is only three days away from kicking off what’s essentially a new child allowance program in the America.

It stems from a revamped child tax credit in President Joe Biden’s March stimulus law that widened the credit’s reach to families with no tax obligations, and bulked up the amount. Families can get a monthly $300 check for children ages 5 and under, and $250 for each child between 6 and 17.

The IRS noted that most families will receive the payments without having to do anything, and they should receive them through direct deposit, a paper check, or a debit card – similar to the three stimulus payments that the federal government sent over the past year.

Half of the amount will be divided into monthly payments issued from July until December. The remaining half will be provided at tax time next year. It will total $3,000 for kids between 6 and 17, and $3,600 for children under age 6.

Last month, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began notifying 36 million American families that they could be eligible to receive the monthly child tax credit.

Here’s when the IRS will distribute payments:

  • July 15
  • August 13
  • September 15
  • October 15
  • November 15
  • December 15

The White House estimates that 90% of families are eligible to get the credit. Researchers say it has the potential to put a major dent in child poverty as well.

Still, the IRS is scrambling to reach the lowest-income families who didn’t previously qualify for the child tax credit. At least 2.3 million children could be excluded from the child allowance, per a Treasury Department estimate.

A strong majority of Democrats in both the House and Senate are pushing to make the child tax credit changes permanent. Biden’s sprawling infrastructure package would extend it until 2025. After that, Congress would need to renew it.

“We must use this moment to pass the American Family Act and permanently expand and improve the child tax credit by increasing the benefit to families and providing payments monthly,” Chair of the House Appropriations Committee Rosa DeLauro said in a February statement. “Children and families must be able to count on this benefit long after the end of this pandemic.”

Still, some moderate Senate Democrats may push for cuts to the measure. At least one Democratic senator has expressed unease with checks going to households earning six figures.

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America’s post-pandemic rebound could blow the 2009 economic recovery out of the water

obama biden first 100 days
President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama at the Invictus Games Toronto 2017.

  • The US post-pandemic rebound could be much faster than the 2009 recession.
  • One expert said the economy may even end up stronger, which “is crazy to think about.”
  • Still, experts caution that even a blitz of emergency spending could leave people behind.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Last week, President Joe Biden alluded to Ronald Reagan’s famous “Morning in America” remark, saying “the sun is coming out.” And the economic data supports that. It’s a lot like morning in America, 2020s style.

After enduring a year of shutdowns, the country may now be on course for one of its fastest growth periods since the 1980s. The economy regained 850,000 jobs in June, a sharp increase after disappointing gains in May and April. Unemployment claims are falling steadily as well. Should job growth maintain the June trend, payrolls would fully rebound by February, exactly 24 months after the pre-pandemic peak. By comparison, it took 76 months for the US to recoup all jobs lost during the Great Recession.

The recovery from the Great Recession was, by several measures, the most sluggish in US history. The policy response to the coronavirus, including $6 trillion of emergency spending, has not only been more effective, but appears to be crafted with the mistakes of 2009 in mind.

“I’m incredibly encouraged when it’s compared to the Great Recession,” Mike Konczal, director of macroeconomic analysis at the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute, told Insider. “Responding at the speed and level of crisis as we did with fiscal and monetary support … means that our economy may not only recover so fast, but it may be stronger than it would have been without it, which is crazy to think about.”

The chart below shows the rate of job losses and gains after the Great Recession compared to the coronavirus recession.

Withdrawing federal support in 2012 caused “a lot of scarring” in the labor market, and lawmakers learned from it, Claudia Sahm, a former Fed economist and senior fellow at the Jain Family Institute, said.

“I think of March of 2021 being this pivotal moment like the end of 2012 was,” Sahm said. “This time, Congress did the right thing, in terms of pushing more money out.”

A new playbook for economic revival

The sheer size of the pandemic-era relief bills dwarfs those seen during the Great Recession. The Obama administration was wary of passing a $1 trillion package in 2009, as officials feared the price tag would erode support from Republicans and even moderate Democrats.

The scope is also drastically different. Instead of allocating funds to tax credits and federal spending programs, recent stimulus sent money directly to households through checks and enhanced unemployment insurance. The use of direct cash relief was the most encouraging aspect of pandemic-era support, Sahm said.

“This time we didn’t monkey around with [tax credits],” she told Insider, adding stimulus checks helped Americans pay down debt, build financial buffers, and maintain spending.

To be sure, the two recessions boast some critical differences. The COVID-19 recovery hinged on thwarting the virus’s spread. The financial crisis was far more systemic in nature, and it took more than a year for the recovery to even begin.

“Everything about this crisis has been much faster than during the Great Recession,” Sahm said. “The bottom fell out, then we hit the bottom, and then we started moving up.”

Other experts argued that last year’s response deserves a larger share of the credit. “I think fiscal policy in 2020 was really important and what we’ve seen so far this year has been unneeded and created some real risks in the economy,” Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former head of the Congressional Budget Office and GOP aide to George W. Bush, said in an interview.

Most signals point to a healthy recovery

Holtz-Eakin is among the conservative economists arguing that Biden’s stimulus has caused a stronger rise in inflation than expected. Indeed, popular gauges of price growth rose at the fastest pace since 2008 in May as rebounding demand ran up against dire supply shortages.

For now, the Federal Reserve and the Congressional Budget Office both expect inflation to weaken as shortages are addressed. And early signs point to price growth cooling into the summer.

Other signals are similarly encouraging. Wages are rising for workers in the leisure and hospitality sector, and Americans surveyed in a recent Gallup poll say they’re the happiest they’ve ever been as vaccinations become more widespread and restrictions ease up.

Though most signs are good, experts are still urging caution given the huge hit absorbed by low-income workers, many of whom are Black and Hispanic.

“We should also remember that the road to recovery is long, even at this optimistic, faster timeline, it’s still gonna be until the end of next year to get to pre-pandemic levels and there’s gonna be a lot of people who are worse off,” Konczal said.

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Biden fired the Trump-appointed Social Security head amid complaints of stimulus check delays and union-busting tactics

Andrew Saul, Social Security Administration commissioner
New York businessman Andrew Saul testifies before the Senate Finance Committee during his confirmation hearing to be commissioner of the Social Security Administration on October 02, 2018 in Washington, DC.

  • The White House fired Andrew Saul, the Social Security head, on Friday evening.
  • Democrats and advocates charged the agency with gumming up stimulus checks for disabled people.
  • Democrats cheered the firings while Republicans said Biden was injecting politics into the agency.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden fired Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul and his top deputy on Friday afternoon, sparking a face-off as Saul says he doesn’t intend to step down from his post.

Saul, a Trump appointee, had triggered fierce criticism from Democrats and advocates, who said he gummed up the speedy distribution of $1,400 stimulus checks to disabled Americans and applied union-busting tactics with labor unions representing federal employees.

The Washington Post first reported Saul, 74, was fired after refusing to step down. His deputy David Black turned in his resignation upon request, The Post reported.

Saul disputed the White House’s ability to remove him. “I consider myself the term-protected Commissioner of Social Security,” he told The Post, adding he plans to sign in remotely and work on Monday.

His six-year tenure was supposed to end in 2025, and Social Security heads aren’t typically switched out when a new administration takes power. But the White House appeared to draw from a recent Supreme Court ruling for the authority to replace him amid mounting calls from Democrats to replace him.

The White House did not immediately respond to comment.

Saul is a former GOP donor who served on the board of a conservative think-tank that advocated for cuts to Social Security benefits. Advocates said the Social Security Administration delayed releasing information to the IRS for stimulus checks earlier this year.

They also argued the SSA under Saul made it much more burdensome for disabled people to reestablish their eligibility for benefits.

Congressional Democrats and activists cheered Friday’s firings. Alex Lawson, president of Social Security Works, told Insider it was “great news” Saul and Black are no longer in charge of the agency.

“They were put in place by former President Trump to sabotage Social Security and no one but Wall Street is sad to see them go,” he said. “Their attacks on seniors and people with disabilities will be their shameful legacy.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio also praised the move. The Banking committee chair said in a statement Saul “tried to systematically dismantle Social Security as we know it from within.”

“Social Security is the bedrock of our middle class that Americans earn and count on, and they need a Social Security Commissioner who will honor that promise to seniors, survivors, and people with disabilities now and for decades to come,” Brown said.

Congressional Republicans swung in the opposite direction. Rep. Kevin Brady, the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, and Sen. Mike Crapo, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, released a statement scolding the Biden administration for ousting Saul.

“Social Security beneficiaries stand the most to lose from President Biden’s partisan decision to remove Commissioner Andrew Saul from leadership of the Social Security Administration,” Brady and Crapo said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also weighed in earlier on the prospect of Saul’s firing. He wrote on Twitter Saul’s removal would be “an unprecedented and dangerous politicization of the Social Security Administration.”

The Social Security Administration is in charge of dispensing benefits for nearly 64 million seniors, disabled and low-income Americans, or one in six people in the US.

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Nancy Pelosi rips McConnell for touting stimulus aid for Kentucky: ‘Vote no and take the dough’

Nancy Pelosi Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (left) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (right).

  • Nancy Pelosi rebuked Mitch McConnell for touting state aid for Kentucky from the stimulus.
  • “I didn’t vote for it, but you’re going to get a lot more money,’ McConnell said to local lawmakers.
  • Some Republicans have touted parts of the law in recent months, even though none voted for it.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for touting the benefits of the stimulus law for his home state of Kentucky. The $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law cleared Congress in March without any Republican support.

“Vote no and take the dough,” Pelosi wrote on Twitter.

At a press conference on Tuesday, McConnell swung between noting his opposition to the federal rescue package and crediting it with providing substantial financial relief for Kentucky.

“Not a single member of my party voted for it. So you’re going to get a lot more money,” McConnell said. “I didn’t vote for it, but you’re going to get a lot more money. Cities and counties in Kentucky will get close to $700-$800 million.”

The Kentucky Republican said the state was projected to get $4 billion as a result of the stimulus law. “So my advice to members of the legislature and other local officials: Spend it wisely because hopefully this windfall doesn’t come along again,” McConnell said.

Republicans were staunchly opposed to Biden’s stimulus law, which contained $1,400 direct payments, a renewal of federal unemployment benefits, and aid to state and local governments. They argued it was too large and costly after lawmakers had approved a $900 billion federal rescue package late in 2020. Not a single Republican in Congress voted for it.

However, at least a dozen congressional Republicans have since touted parts of the law, such as small business aid, even though they didn’t support the law’s passage. Biden rebuked the GOP earlier this year for “bragging” about the law, saying, “some people have no shame.”

Also on Tuesday, McConnell pledged a bruising political brawl over Democratic efforts to bypass Republicans to implement their infrastructure spending plans. “This is not going to be done on a bipartisan basis,” he said. “This is going to be a hell of a fight over what this country ought to look like in the future and it’s going to unfold here in the next few weeks.”

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All of the states offering workers cash incentives to get back to work

GettyImages 1305540099
Goldman Sachs said the latest US unemployment figures were encouraging.

  • Amidst a so-called labor shortage, some GOP-led states are ending federal unemployment benefits early.
  • But at least four are offering one-time cash bonuses to workers who return to the workforce.
  • In Connecticut, which hasn’t ended unemployment benefits early, long-term unemployed workers can get a bonus.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Arizona

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey coronavirus update
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

Arizona is dropping the federal unemployment benefits on July 10. But the state is setting up a cash program to replace it.

It’s using money from the recent stimulus law to fund a one-time bonus of $2,000 for eligible people who return to work full-time. It’ll be $1,000 for those working part-time. The cash is distributed once a person completes ten weeks of work with an employer.

They also must earn $25 an hour or less and start working by Labor Day. Individuals filing for jobless aid after May 13 don’t qualify. 

In a press release. Gov. Doug Ducey said that the state was aiming to pay people to work, rather than “paying people not to work.”

Montana

greg gianforte
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte.

Montana’s federal unemployment benefits will come to an end on June 27. But workers who find employment could see a $1,200 bonus.

“We need to incentivize Montanans to reenter the workforce,” Gov. Greg Gianforte said in a statement. “Our return-to-work bonus and the return to pre-pandemic unemployment programs will help get more Montanans back to work.”

Workers who were on UI benefits on May 4 are eligible for the bonus; they must work for at least four weeks. According to the Montana Free Press, there’s enough money for 12,500 workers to receive payouts. The program will come to a close in October, a month after the current expanded unemployment benefits are set to expire.

New Hampshire

chris sununu
Gov. Chris Sununu.

New Hampshire is winding down its participation in federal unemployment benefits effective June 19, according to New Hampshire Public Radio. But residents who return to work could see a summer bonus.

Gov. Chris Sununu announced a $10 million pot, funded by federal relief, that will provide workers with one-time bonuses. New Hampshire Public Radio reports that those who work full-time for eight consecutive weeks could get $1,000, and part-time workers could get $500. To be eligible, workers must make under $25 an hour.  

“There are plenty of jobs, and we really want people to get back out there,” Sununu said, per the outlet.

Oklahoma

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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt.

Oklahoma announced a similar program to entice unemployed workers back into the workforce. It’s also moving to end its participation in federal unemployment benefits, with benefits ending effective June 26. 

But the first 20,000 Oklahomans on unemployment benefits who return to work will get a $1,2000 bonus — paid for by American Rescue Plan funds. 

“For Oklahoma to become a Top Ten state, workforce participation must be at a top level and I am committed to doing what I can to help Oklahomans get off the sidelines and into the workforce,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said in a statement.

To be eligible, workers must have received unemployment benefits between May 2 and May 15. They must complete six consecutive weeks of work for the same employer; payments will begin going out in mid-July.

Blue state Connecticut is also getting in on the action

Gov. Ned Lamont.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont.

Connecticut’s not ending federal unemployment benefits, but it is offering cash bonuses to workers who find employment after being out of work for an extended period of time.

Workers who are long-term unemployed — who the Bureau of Labor Statistics defines as those who have been looking for work for at least 27 weeks — could get a $1,000 one-time bonus.

Gov. Ned Lamont said that 10,000 workers will receive the payment. To be eligible, they must have filed for unemployment in the week before May 30, and subsequently obtain a new job and work full-time for eight consecutive weeks.

“This is the latest too in our toolbox to maximize our state’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic,” Lamont said in a statement.

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How April’s dismal jobs report is setting the stage for Biden’s $4 trillion economic fight with the GOP

Joe Biden sad
President Joe Biden speaks about the April jobs report in the White House on Friday.

  • Republicans and Democrats drew sharply different conclusions about the April jobs report.
  • Democrats used it to bolster a case for massive infrastructure spending on issues like childcare.
  • The GOP wants to slam on the spending brakes, saying stimulus benefits are setting back job growth.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In some ways, the April jobs report resembled an optical illusion, with people making differing observations from a dataset that didn’t fit into a clean narrative.

In this case, Democrats and Republicans came to opposite conclusions about the report and what it means for the way forward in healing an economy battered by the pandemic.

The Friday report showed the economy recovered 266,000 jobs, a smaller amount defying expectations of a massive job surge on the back of government stimulus dollars, increased vaccinations, and easing restrictions. Economists had forecasted at least 1 million regained jobs.

In response, the GOP is demanding to end parts of President Joe Biden’s stimulus and calling for the government to slam the brakes on its spending. Democrats instead urged the passage of Biden’s $4 trillion infrastructure plans, viewing the lackluster report as another pillar in their argument that more spending, in part on childcare, would accelerate the recovery.

It sets the stage between the parties for a multitrillion-dollar fight on infrastructure, jobs, and families that will take up much of the White House’s time over the next few months.

The president argued for patience with his economic agenda on Friday. He said “more help is needed” and mounted a robust defense of his $1.9 trillion stimulus, which provided $1,400 direct payments and a $300-per-week federal unemployment benefit.

“When we passed the American Rescue Plan, I want to remind everybody, it was designed to help us over the course of a year – not 60 days – a year,” Biden said. “We never thought that after the first 50 or 60 days, everything would be fine.”

He flatly rejected the argument from Republicans and business groups that federal jobless aid has been sidelining people from the workforce, saying that was “nothing measurable.”

“We’re still digging out of an economic collapse that cost us 22 million jobs,” Biden said. “Let’s keep our eye on the ball.”

Kevin Brady
Rep. Kevin Brady, the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Democrats double down, Republicans pounce

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Congress to move immediately on Biden’s plans, and pointed to “women and working parents” being hit hardest in the pandemic. The number of women who held jobs fell in April, as reported by Insider’s Juliana Kaplan and Madison Hoff.

“The evidence is clear that the economy demands urgent action, and Congress will not be deterred or delayed from delivering transformational investments,” she said in a statement.

Republicans had already lined up against Biden’s plans, criticizing the proposed tax hikes on large firms and wealthy Americans as a future anchor on the economy. They pounced on the report in a fresh sign of their hardening resistance.

The GOP swung at Biden’s handling of the economy, arguing that the jobless aid was disincentivizing people from searching for a new job.

“This is a stunning economic setback, and unequivocal proof that President Biden is sabotaging our jobs recovery with promises of higher taxes and regulation on local businesses that discourage hiring and drive jobs overseas,” Rep. Kevin Brady, ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement.

He also contended that jobless aid was disincentivizing people from returning to work. The argument mirrored one made by the Chamber of Commerce, an influential business group which on Friday called for an end to the $300 federal unemployment benefit.

Many economists have long disputed that federal jobless aid has kept people from returning to work. Unemployment claims has steadily fallen over the past month. They tend to cite other factors like the lack of available childcare and school closures.

Those burdens have fallen more on women, causing 2 million women to leave the workforce in the past year. Still, experts say the US will regain its economic footing eventually, though the nation faces a rocky path ahead.

“We’re gonna see pockets of strength, pockets of weakness, areas of overheating, areas where it is uncool – it’s going to be complicated and messy,” Jason Furman, a former top economist to President Barack Obama, told Insider in an interview. “But I think hopefully all moving in the right direction.”

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Mitch McConnell claims Biden’s stimulus benefits are setting back the economic recovery

Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

  • McConnell claimed on Thursday that Biden’s stimulus benefits are causing worker shortages.
  • “We have flooded the zone with checks that I’m sure everybody loves to get, and also enhanced unemployment,” he said.
  • Some economists say a labor shortage would cause wages to rise, but that hasn’t happened yet.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday faulted the Biden administration for approving stimulus benefits, and claimed they are hurting the nation’s economic recovery.

“We have flooded the zone with checks that I’m sure everybody loves to get, and also enhanced unemployment,” McConnell said from Kentucky. “And what I hear from businesspeople, hospitals, educators, everybody across the state all week is, regretfully, it’s actually more lucrative for many Kentuckians and Americans to not work than work.”

He went on: “So we have a workforce shortage and we have raising inflation, both directly related to this recent bill that just passed.”

McConnell’s comments reflect longstanding GOP concerns about disincentivizing people from returning work as a result of issuing direct payments and federal unemployment benefits. Democrats approved a massive $1.9 trillion stimulus package in March, arguing many households needed immediate financial aid from the government.

No Republicans voted for the relief package. The unemployment rate has steadily fallen to 6%, and new claims have dropped for four weeks in a row.

But employers are growing alarmed over worker shortages, particularly those in the restaurant sector, while shortages of commodity goods are causing massive price increases in certain pockets of the economy. The trends caused the White House to defend its policies on Thursday. White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said there was “little evidence” that enhanced unemployment insurance was enticing people away from work.

Some economists note that a key feature of a labor shortage – rising wages – is not in evidence, as businesses typically take that step to lure job-seekers from a scarce pool.

“When you don’t see wages growing to reflect that dynamic, you can be fairly certain that labor shortages, though possibly happening in some places, are not a driving feature of the labor market,” Heidi Shierholz, economist and director of policy at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, wrote on Twitter. “And right now, wages are not growing at a rapid pace.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell weighed in on the issue last week at a press conference. He said potential factors that could explain the shortage include a lack of childcare, lingering COVID-19 fears, and school closures.

“We don’t see wages moving up yet. And presumably we would see that in a really tight labor market,” Powell said. “And we may well start to see that.”

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Biden is betting big with plans to remake America. Here are 6 takeaways from Biden’s speech.

  • President Joe Biden delivered his first speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night.
  • Biden called for an ambitious pandemic economic recovery plan focused on jobs, infrastructure, and childcare.
  • He also called for changes to immigration and foreign policy and asked the Senate to pass civil rights legislation.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden delivered his first speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night, on the eve of his 100th day in office.

In his address before a pared-down audience due to the pandemic, Biden called for an ambitious pandemic economic recovery plan focused on jobs, infrastructure, childcare, and education. The proposals are some of the most progressive in decades – and ones unlikely to garner Republican support, as evidenced by GOP reactions in the chamber and on Twitter.

He also called for changes to immigration and foreign policy and asked the Senate to pass signature civil rights legislation – including police reform and voting rights legislation.

Here are the biggest takeaways from the speech.

Biden is betting big with his spending plans

Biden detailed an ambitious $4 trillion spending program focused on overhauling the American economy and recasting the role of government to better secure the welfare of families.

He’s fresh off the passage of a $1.9 trillion stimulus law in March, a measure broadly popular with American voters in part due to the $1,400 direct payments. He touted the federal checks and said the law contributed to a fall in hunger.

Biden quickly pivoted to his latest pair of economic plans, one to upgrade physical infrastructure and the other meant to level the playing field for middle and low-income families. The latest is a $1.8 trillion economic plan aimed at setting up sweeping new federal programs in education, childcare, and healthcare.

“These are the investments we make together, as one country, and that only government can make,” Biden said. “Time and again, they propel us into the future.”

Republicans are very unlikely to support the newest “American Families Plan” proposal. “There are individual components that conservatives might be more supportive, but the full $2 trillion package financed by big new taxes is absolutely a non-starter for Republicans,” Brian Riedl, a budget expert at the right-leaning Manhattan Institute, said.

The president also called on Congress to move on healthcare reform and raising the minimum wage

Biden urged Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, which hasn’t budged since 2009. “No one should work 40 hours a week and still live below the poverty line,” he said.

Democrats are united on raising the minimum wage but sharply disagree on the amount. Some like Sen. Bernie Sanders are pushing $15 an hour minimum wage, but others like Sen. Joe Manchin support a lower amount.

Biden also called lawmakers to step in and lower prescription drug costs, an initiative reportedly scrapped from his economic package.

“Let’s do what we’ve always talked about,” the president said. “Let’s give Medicare the power to save hundreds of billions of dollars by negotiating lower prices for prescription drugs. ”

Instead, he’s proposed extending health insurance subsidies for the Affordable Care Act as part of his spending programs.

He also threw his support behind the PRO Act, a bill designed to make it easier for workers to unionize. It has stalled in the Senate, unable to cross the 60-vote threshold known as the filibuster.

Biden talks immigration – but not the border

Biden also again called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, stressing the need to provide a pathway to legal status for millions of undocumented people in the United States – stressing that this was a bipartisan goal.

“Let’s end our exhausting war over immigration,” he said. “For more than 30 years, politicians have talked about immigration reform and done nothing about it. It’s time to fix it.”

The day he took office, Biden unveiled a proposal that would grant permanent residency to many migrant farm workers and citizenship for those who came to the US as children. On Wednesday, Biden said Congress should work to make those specific provisions law right away, acknowledging the difficulty of passing more robust reform in a 50-50 Senate.

“Congress needs to pass legislation this year to finally secure protection for the Dreamers – the young people who have only known America as their home,” he said. He also called for legislation to grant “permanent protections for immigrants on temporary protected status” and a process for granting citizenship to “farmworkers who put food on our tables.”

Biden did not, however, speak to the current status of US borders, which remain shuttered to all but unaccompanied minors – a recent influx of whom overwhelmed authorities, who have since scrambled to convert hotels and convention centers into holding facilities. The Biden administration continues to expel other asylum-seekers fleeing poverty and violence in the Americas, citing the pandemic and the need to rebuild a processing system decimated by the last White House.

Biden laid out a foreign policy plan that differs from the Trump doctrine

During his address, Biden’s focus on foreign policy centered mainly around strengthening the US’ relationship with allies and forging working but stern relations with Russia and China.

Biden said that in approaching foreign policy, his administration would operate on the belief that, “America is the most unique idea in history.”

In a contrast to Trump, Biden directly charged Russia for interference in the 2016 elections as well as the recent SolarWinds cyberattacks which breached government and private business systems.

The President added that in conversations with his Russian counterpart, he has “made clear,” to Vladimir Putin that the US will not seek escalation, but Russia’s, “actions will have consequences.” Biden added that the US and Russian should cooperate when interests are aligned.

Biden added that he had held hours-long conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping and put forth a similar balance. The President also singled out Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs, describing them as threats, but committed to working with allies and both nations through “diplomacy and stern deterrence.”

He also spoke about his promise to end the “forever war in Afghanistan,” acknowledging and justifying the US’ long footprint in the country. Saying that the US fulfilled their promise to bring Osama Bin Laden to the “gates of hell,” and that soldiers are serving in “the same war zone as their parents,” he said it’s time to bring troops home.

Biden addressed gun control policy and urged congressional action against gun violence in the US

During his address to Congress, the president called gun violence an “epidemic in America,” mentioning how the flag at the White House flew half-staff to mourn the lives lost at the Atlanta-area shootings and mass shooting in Colorado.

“In the week between those mass shootings, more than 250 other Americans were shot dead. 250 shot dead,” Biden said.

He touted his executive actions on guns following those tragedies but called for the Senate to act.

Biden called upon Senate Republicans to join Democratic members of Congress to “close loopholes and require background checks to purchase a gun” – such as the “boyfriend” loophole, which refers to a gap in gun legislation that allows partners convicted of domestic violence to purchase a firearm if their partner was not a spouse, didn’t have children with them, or live with them at any point.”

I will do everything in my power to protect the American people from this epidemic of gun violence,” he said. “But it’s time for Congress to act as well.”

The president called on the Senate to pass two pieces of civil rights legislation

Biden recalled meeting Gianna Floyd, the daughter of George Floyd, during her father’s funeral last year, saying how she was right in saying her father “changed the world” in light of the guilty verdict of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in Floyd’s killing.

While he recognized that “most men and women in uniform wear their badge and serve their communities honorably,” the president urged Americans to come together to “rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve” and “root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system.”

He urged lawmakers to pass the police reform bill named after Floyd by the first anniversary of Floyd’s death on May 25.

The president also cajoled the Senate to pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, which has already passed in the House.

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Why at least 300,000 people in 33 states are losing unemployment benefits earlier than expected

Unemployment filing coronavirus
  • A key tool to provide jobless aid to long-term unemployed people is broken in 33 states, per a new report.
  • The shut-off is affecting at least 300,000 people in at least 33 states, researchers say.
  • The study said unemployment benefits for some claimants could turn off in New York and California.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A policy instrument designed as a buffer for unemployed Americans is broken in 33 states, according to a new report released Tuesday from the California Policy Lab.

The Extended Benefits program is meant to provide jobless aid to people who exhausted regular benefits in high-unemployment states. Earlier federal rescue packages that Congress approved lengthened the eligibility period for people to get the assistance.

But it appears the program is shutting off because it’s not counting long-term unemployed people collecting emergency federal stimulus aid in a measurement used to gauge the share of the workforce claiming unemployment benefits.

“It’s as if the Titanic had stopped loading the lifeboats because some people had already gotten off of the ship,” TJ Hedin, a co-author of the study, tweeted on Tuesday.

“If these triggers were updated to count all people receiving unemployment benefits, then it would mean benefits would be available to impacted workers for longer durations, which seems sensible during times of extended job losses like the pandemic,” Alex Bell, another co-author of the study, said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, in state after state we see that the counter-intuitive design of the program’s trigger system is causing the exact opposite to happen,” he said.

Some states such as Alabama, Maryland, Ohio, South Carolina and Virginia have experienced an early shut-off of the EB program, impacting around 20% to 30% of jobless claimants.

Researchers warned some people’s benefits could be yanked in California, New York, Massachusetts, Nevada, and New Mexico over the coming weeks. These states have over 30% of claimants receiving aid under the program, the report said.

A $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit is in place until September 6, a key part of President Joe Biden’s recent stimulus law. Unemployment claims last week dropped to a new pandemic-era low, as 576,000 people filed for benefits.

Some Congressional Democrats are pressing to overhaul the nation’s battered unemployment system. Sens. Ron Wyden and Michael Bennet unveiled a plan last week to beef-up state unemployment checks and penalize states who stray from new benefit standards.

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