Corporate DispatchPro

Biden’s $2 trillion rescue deal

- GINA CHON

The next U.S. president has a chance to test his own art of the deal. Joe Biden on Thursday announced an ambitious stimulus plan, including additional $1,400 payments for individual­s. It also includes liberal causes like boosting the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. With the slimmest Democratic control of a 50-50 Senate, Biden will have to compromise.

He said the United States needs to act to prevent people from going hungry and being evicted from their homes. He wants to give additional checks to those making up to $75,000 a year, on top of the $600 Congress passed in December. Supplement­al jobless benefits would also increase, to $400 a week.

Biden’s vice president, Kamala Harris, is set to cast tie-breaking votes if the Senate splits on party lines starting next week. However, most meaningful legislatio­n needs 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to overcome a so-called filibuster, which allows senators to prevent a vote if they continue speaking for long enough.

The ailing economy, newly hurt by a surge in Covid-19 infections, bolsters Biden’s case. Weekly unemployme­nt claims jumped by 181,000 to 965,000 last week. In December, the country lost 140,000 jobs, reversing the recovery that had been under way. Republican Senator Marco Rubio and others in his party have already said they support increasing direct payments.

Ratcheting up minimum wages and other broad progressiv­e measures will be a harder sell. Biden’s plan also doesn’t include any tax increases or other ways to pay for the aid. That could irk Republican­s who rediscover their belief in fiscal discipline under a new president. It’s also unclear whether moderate Democrats like Joe Manchin, who has expressed concern about federal debt, will be on board with the full package.

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