Biden’s aid plan could revamp economy, prompt GOP resistance

BALTIMORE (AP) — The USD1.9 trillion rescue plan unveiled by United States (US) President-elect Joe Biden offers the chance to sculpt the US economy toward the Democrats’ liking: a USD15 minimum wage, aid to poor families and federal dollars going to public schools.

It’s an ambitious effort that would arrive after roughly USD4 trillion has already been devoted to fighting the pandemic.

But it could be quickly trimmed by congressional Republicans who are skeptical about raising the minimum wage and increasingly focussed on the federal budget deficit that ballooned under US President Donald Trump.

“This is an opening bid. There is a sense from Republican staff that USD1.9 trillion is a little rich,” said former Republican aide Bill Hoagland, who is senior vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Centre.

“But President-elect Biden is an astute student of the Senate and negotiations and I have a feeling that they would expect this to be the top and not everything would be accepted.”

Biden stressed in his Thursday speech announcing the plan that low interest rates mean the government should borrow now in hopes of having faster growth and a more stable financial outlook in the future. “If we invest now boldly, smartly and with unwavering focus on American workers and families, we will strengthen our economy, reduce inequity and put our nation’s long-term finances on the most sustainable course,” Biden said.

The question is what elements of the Biden plan can win enough Republican votes to clear the evenly split Senate, where at least 60 votes will be needed.

Without Republican buy-in, Biden’s proposal could pass with a simple majority under budget reconciliation – but that’s a time-consuming process that would limit what Democrats are able to accomplish.

US President-elect Joe Biden. PHOTO: AP