Saturday
June 12 2021
10:46 AM
banner-icon1 banner-icon2 banner-icon3

POLITICAL NEWS


Previous story Covid relief package marks a shift in US battle against poverty Next story

STORY BY STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN

Story   Source

Published on March 10, 2021 2:11 AM

Political Stories Search Political Political Index
 
Covid relief package marks a shift in US battle against poverty
(CNN)President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid rescue plan that is expected to win final passage in the House on Wednesday is not just aimed at ending the pandemic -- it represents the most sweeping direct attempt to tackle endemic poverty in America in years.

While there has been plenty of attention on the failure of congressional Democrats to include a hike in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, much of the bill aims hundreds of billions of dollars at the least well-off Americans. It's not just the President -- who has cultivated a political persona as a moderate who is willing to work with Republicans, who is touting the bill as a game-changer for working families. His Democratic primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, after years condemning the country's economy as unfairly biased towards millionaires and billionaires, has endorsed the package unequivocally. "This is the most significant legislation for working people that has been passed in decades," the Vermont senator told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday, arguing that although the measure was about alleviating the economic and educational consequences of the pandemic it also went deeper. "I think what shocks many in the establishment, and certainly my Republican colleagues is that we wrote a bill to address the crisis facing working families and the middle class and low-income people, and not the wealthy and large corporations and their lobbyists," said Sanders, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. The bill, which will be a presidency-defining moment for Biden in his symbolic first 100 days in office, will send stimulus checks of up to $1,400 to many Americans and extend federal unemployment benefits through September 6. House Democrats had hoped to pass the bill on Tuesday but there was a delay in drafting legislative changes made in the Senate -- which endorsed it at the weekend. A final vote is now scheduled for Wednesday. That timeframe would still allow Biden to showcase what would then be a new law in his first primetime national address on Thursday scheduled to mark the anniversary of the pandemic taking hold on US soil. As well as help for the unemployed, the bill includes money to reopen schools, aid for stricken small businesses, child tax credits and health insurance subsidies. It would enshrine one of the boldest deployments of federal power to alleviate the plight of the poorest Americans in decades and invite comparisons between Biden and great reforming Democratic presidents of the 20th Century, on a crisis measure uniformly opposed by Republicans. In addition to its short-term impact, proponents of the bill say it has the potential to significantly cut child poverty and improve health care for many Americans -- results that would not normally be expected in an economic stimulus bill. Still, many of the benefits available under the legislation are fairly short term -- unemployment benefits expire in September and child tax credits only last a year. But advocates view the credits and health subsidies as a breakthrough years in the making and as stepping stone to a permanent infrastructure that will be politically difficult not to extend at least under Democratic congressional majorities. The moves have the potential to significantly cut child poverty and improve health care for many Americans -- results that would not normally be expected in an economic stimulus bill. When the President signs the bill, he will claim a genuine achievement early in his presidency that will validate the organizing principle of his campaign and his promise to the American people -- that he could secure the resources and strategy that he says are needed to end the pandemic. "When I was elected, I said we were going to get the government out of the business of battling on Twitter and back in the business of delivering for the American people," Biden said Saturday.