Hes been president of the United States for less than two months, and Joe Biden is already signing an historic law that sets in motion far-reaching changes. The Democratic dream of more social security is becoming a reality. Biden uses the corona crisis to push through that wish: an astronomical 1.9 trillion dollars to help the economy get started.
Biden spoke to the nation on prime time last night, for the first time since he was president. Unexpectedly, he had news about the vaccination campaign; the President announced that all Americans over 18 years of age can get a vaccination from 1 May.
“Then there is a good chance that we can celebrate Independence Day with family on July 4th,” said Biden. “Independence of the virus.”
But from now on, his focus is on the new emergency package, which the President announced as “a historic law that will cut child poverty in half.”
The law has come about almost silently, and Biden has tried to get as little debate as possible about it. But tonights speech is seen as the beginning of a round of honor. The president will travel through the country over the next few weeks to commend the emergency package. As soon as its effects become visible, the Democrats want Americans to know who the sender is: their new president Joe Biden.
Social safety net
Starting next weekend, Americans will be able to expect the first checks of $1400. Emergency aid which, even more than in previous aid packages under President Trump, focuses on low incomes. In addition, unemployment benefits will be extended and sickness contributions will be reduced.
So this law does much more than just alleviate corona-distress. Similarly, USD 350 billion goes to distressed states and municipalities, so that they can reinstate people into public service. And the social security system is being drastically expanded, with perhaps the most far-reaching change: the arrival of a form of child benefit.
Americans with children will receive a monthly allowance of between 250 and 300 dollars per child. This is instead of a much more limited annual tax deduction, which now also benefits poor Americans who pay little or no income tax. This measure is valid for one year, but the Democrats want to make the extension of social security permanent.
The Biden support package is therefore seen as revolutionary in the US. Over the past few decades, since President Reagan in the 1980s, the leading idea in Washington has been that government interferes with the economy as little as possible. Keeping taxes on wealthy people and businesses as low as possible, then growth will come naturally. Successive Republican and Democratic Presidents ruled along that line.
Biden now breaks with that tradition of stopping ones own pants. The emergency package focuses on long-term social support for low incomes, poor and families with children. A government that actively stimulates the economy by giving the underclass space for spending. And this is how we try to fight poverty and create jobs. From the principle of trickle down to bottom up; a historic step for America.
Republicans are not enthusiastic about this law. Leader Mitch McConnell calls the emergency package “a Trojan horse full of bad, old, progressive ideas”. No Republican in the House of Representatives or in the Senate voted for the law. According to McConnell, Biden breaks his promise of unity; he would try to make laws that can support both parties.
The president himself has little concern about that. When signing the law, he stressed that there was a great deal of support among the population for this emergency package, including among – especially poorer – Republican voters. According to polls, about 70 percent of Americans are in favour of this law.
Yet it is surprising that the Democrats are pushing through such a far-reaching law without Republican support. It shows a new attitude after the elections: the party now holds the presidency and the majority in Congress. It seems that the Democrats are going to use that power to deliver on election promises, and do not intend to wait for Republican approval.
In his speech, Biden did not address the divisions in Congress. Like the vaccination campaign, he was confident about his support package: “If it fails, I will admit it failed. But it will not fail.”