In 2008, President Barack Obama faced the recession with an important aid plan valued at 800,000 million dollars (about 615,000 million euros, at the change of the time). America wavered between the junk mortgage crisis and the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy as the epitome of years of financial neglect, and the envelope of the stimulus program seemed overblown to many.
Cash compared to the $ 1.9 trillion promised by President Joe Bidento face the pandemic, when the country has exceeded 400,000 deaths. An ordeal that inaugurates its economic policy with colossal firepower, and goals as ambitious as lifting 12 million Americans out of poverty.
Even at the cost of indebtedness, which will be inevitable, what is urgent for the new Administration is to defeat the virus and the wake of impoverishment that follows.
Biden cannot be said to have breached his election promisesNor that he has ignored the demands of the most progressive of his party. The rise in the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, a nod to the latter, or the commitment to local industry figure in this vast program of economic reaction and reconstruction.
The middle class – the main recipient of his pre-election messages – will be the biggest beneficiary of pandemic aid: a trillion in direct checks worth $ 1,400 (more than double the $ 600 approved in the last congressional aid program); more generous unemployment benefits, $ 100 more a week with an extension until September; Paid leave for workers who suffer from covid-19 and broader subsidies to take care of children. Others 440.
In addition, 400,000 million will be allocated to directly combat the health emergency, so that the distribution of the vaccine can be accelerated and schools reopened during his first 100 days of government, in which the political veteran hopes that 100 million Americans can be vaccinated. Another $ 350 billion will go to help state and local governments bridge budget deficits.
Biden’s bazooka adds to the $ 2.2 trillion stimulus program approved in March and the supplemental relief plan agreed in December by Congress, after months of partisan lockdown, worth $ 900 billion.
Proof of the exceptionalness of the situation is the green light that Biden has obtained from pressure groups such as the US Chamber of Commerce, which has often opposed Obama’s economic initiatives and has now not only failed to hamper the plans of the new President, but has applauded his commitment “to vaccination and sectors and families that continue to suffer” as a result of the pandemic.
The positive reaction of the stock markets – all Wall Street indices broke records on Wednesday, when he took office and signed his first measures – confirms the confidence in his plans.
At executive orders announced WednesdayA complete battery of measures against the pandemic was added this Thursday, including recourse to the Defense Production Law, promulgated in 1950 in response to the Korean War and which allows the industrial sector to be mobilized for the sake of national security, to expedite the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) to health workers.
Accelerating the distribution of the vaccine, but also multiplying the diagnostic tests and producing the rest of the necessary material to avoid contagion, is vital. His team of advisers has identified a dozen looming shortfalls in essential materials like N95 masks and insulating suits.
As at the beginning of the pandemic, when the dependence on Chinese production was demonstrated, the economy of the superpower is reeling before the prosaic attack of a virus and the absence, verified, of an action plan of the outgoing Administration. Biden’s will have to start from scratch.
In the first full week of January 1.15 million Americans joined the unemployment lists, the highest number since July, although the data for the second week were somewhat more encouraging ( only 900,000); The unemployment rate, however, is likely not to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023, according to the Federal Reserve.
The new Secretary of the Treasury (or Minister of Economy), Janet Yellen, is precisely an expert in the labor market , and Biden himself has made clear his intention to create ten million green jobs : the idea is to take advantage of the situation to reformulate the economic fabric of the country, with a firm commitment to clean energythat may find opposition in states that are economically dependent on the oil industry or fracking, or hydraulic fracturing.
Biden is starting in a big way, as evidenced by the fact that he revoked, via executive order, the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline as soon as he stepped on the White House. The energy project, an investment of 9,000 million approved by Trump, became the past decade a symbol of the struggle and ecological and political polarization of the country.
In other spheres the Democrat will not stray from the autarkic tendency of his predecessor. This is the case of the manufacturing industry, which will have a leading role on its agenda.
The Made in America of the Democratic recalls muted, the America First Trump , economic nationalism that characterizes programs like the Indian leaders Narendra Modi and Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Imagine a future made in America . We will use taxpayer dollars to rebuild America.
We will buy American products, supporting millions of jobs in the manufacturing sector, ”he announced last Thursday, in a subtle display of populism reminiscent of Trump’s proclamations..
But the breath of social justice defines his program, not only because of the increase in the minimum wage, but also because of his decision to extend food stamps throughout 2021 and the protection of tenants threatened with eviction, extending the moratorium until September, in another nod to progressives.
His ambitious measures have been described by prominent Republicans as “too many, and too fast”, and the question of their viability falls on the more moderate faction of the Democrats, traditionally cautious in economic and political policy.
Now surpassed by the audacity of a plan unmatched since the historic momentum of the New Dealof President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Depression Era. Held by very small majorities in each House, Biden will have to fight each of his measures to the last vote, but the tune rings compelling: create jobs and attack poverty to stimulate growth and reduce deficits. An arduous task, with Sisyphus risks, but no one expects that remaining a superpower in times of pandemic will be a piece of cake.