Second Stimulus: Biden Talks COVID-19 Relief & Taxes In a New Speech

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Getty President-elect Joe Biden spoke at the Queen Theater in Delaware.

During one of his first official appearances since becoming president-elect, Joe Biden spoke at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware and offered his thoughts on how he would address the pandemic-related economic crisis.

During his speech, Biden said that Congress needs to pass the HEROES Act, a bill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has championed since May that is projected to cost between $2.2 and $2.4 trillion.

He also touted his relationships with the leaders of corporations and unions, noting that improving the economy will require reforming the tax code so corporations and wealthy people will have to pay more in taxes.

Biden Says to Improve the Economy, ‘I would pass the Heroes Act’

In Biden’s November 16 speech, he mentioned twice that he believes the HEROES Act should be passed, once during his speech and another time in response to a question about what immediate action he would take to address job loss.

The HEROES Act was passed by the House of Representatives, initially with a $3 trillion price tag, and after months of negotiation, a new update version with a price tag of $2.2 trillion. Pelosi has advocated for all of the following — and more — to be included in the updated HEROES Act:

  • $18.4 billion to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the National Institutes of Health on coronavirus-related measures.
  • $225 billion in support for K-12 and higher education.
  • $249 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • $1,200 checks for individuals, with additional payments for dependents.
  • $600 weekly unemployment supplements.

During his speech, Biden said the following:

There’s a reason why the federal government is able to run a deficit. Because the States must, must balance their budgets. And they’re in real trouble. You’re going to see hundreds of thousands of police officers, firefighters, first responders, mental health clinics, you’re going to see them going out of business. Right now, Congress should come together and pass a COVID relief package like The Heroes Act that the House passed six months ago.

When a reporter asked Biden how he would create union and clean energy jobs, invest in Historically Black Colleges and Universities and recover jobs lost during the pandemic, Biden said, “I would pass the Heroes Act. It has all the money and capacity to take care of each of those things, now. Now, not tomorrow. Now.”

Biden’s pronouncement immediately ran into resistance from Republicans, such as Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby who told The Detroit News he was not in support of the HEROES Act and called it — as many other Republicans have — a “wish list.” Instead, he advocated starting with a “skinny” $500 billion coronavirus relief measure blocked by Democrats in the Senate. You can read more about the various plans on the table here.

“We’re not going to pass a gigantic measure right now – and the question is will we pass it later? Doubtful,” he said, according to The Detroit News. Instead, Shelby said Biden needs to “Start with the skinny bill. We had targeted it to various needs of small business and hiring,” he added. “Keep the economy going, not a wish list of fixes for political, social problems.”

Biden Reiterated His Plans to Tax the Rich

Biden outlined various expensive measures during his presidential run, such as $2 trillion on clean energy and infrastructure; $700 billion to give government contracts only to American-made products; and a $775 billion plan to improve healthcare for children, adults and seniors in need of caregiving, to name a few reported by Transport Topics. He has continued to say that he will pay for those measures with more in taxes from corporations and those making above $400,000 per year.

During his speech, he namechecked multiple leaders of industry that he plans to work with, including those in control of General Motors, the Target Corporation, the Microsoft Corporation, the United Auto Workers union, Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

Biden also said that he plans to make “the wealthiest among us and corporations pay their fair share” in taxes:

We’re going to have a fair tax structure that makes sure the wealthiest among us and corporations pay their fair share. Our plan will create millions of good-paying union jobs in manufacturing, building the vehicles, products, technologies that we’re going to need for the future to compete with the rest of the world. From autos to our stockpiles, we’re going to buy American. No government contract will be given to companies that don’t make their products here in America.

To secure our position as a global leader in research and development, we’re going to invest $300 billion in the most critical, competitive new industries in technologies creating 3 million good-paying jobs. And the corporate American technology firms like Microsoft on the call, they all agreed. We can make sure a future is made here in America, and that’s good for business and it’s good for American workers.

In describing the group of leaders with whom he spoke, Biden said, “The unity was astounding.”

As the Wall Street Journal reported, Biden’s taxation plans have a low chance of making it through Congress, especially if Democrats are not in control of both chambers. Although the paper reported that there was common ground on some tax issues, it projected that his proposition to tax the rich and corporations is likely to meet resistance.

For example, Biden said he wants to repeal Trump’s Tax Cuts and Job Act, which increased the national debt by $1.9 trillion, according to the Brookings Institution. But in defending the signature Trump policy, Republican Congressman Kevin Brady said, “Americans rejected higher taxes at the ballot box and increased Republican representation in the House,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

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