A rain of millions to reactivate the economy | USA elections

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Passers-by walk past the New York Stock Exchange on January 13.Mark Lennihan / AP

In 2008, President Barack Obama stood up to the recession with an important aid plan valued at 800,000 million dollars (about 615,000 million euros, at the change of the time). America wavered between the junk mortgage crisis and the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy as the epitome of years of financial negligence, and the envelope of the stimulus program seemed overblown to many. Sheer small change compared to the 1.9 trillion dollars promised by President Joe Biden to face the pandemic, when the country has exceeded 400,000 deaths. An ordeal that inaugurates its economic policy with colossal firepower, and goals as ambitious as lifting 12 million Americans out of poverty. Even at the cost of indebtedness, which will be inevitable, what is urgent for the new Administration is to defeat the virus and the trail of impoverishment that follows.

It cannot be said that Biden has failed to fulfill his electoral promises, nor that he has ignored the demands of the most progressive of his party. The increase in the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, a nod to the latter, or the commitment to local industry are included in this vast program of reaction and economic reconstruction. The middle class – the main recipient of his pre-election messages – will be the biggest beneficiary of pandemic aid: a trillion in direct checks worth $ 1,400 (more than double the $ 600 approved in the last congressional aid program); more generous unemployment benefits, $ 100 more a week with an extension until September; Paid leave for workers who suffer from covid-19 and broader subsidies to take care of children. Another 440,000 million will go to support small and medium-sized businesses and communities especially affected by the pandemic.

In addition, 400,000 million will be allocated to directly combat the health emergency, so that the distribution of the vaccine can be accelerated and schools reopened during his first 100 days of government, in which the political veteran hopes 100 million Americans can be vaccinated. Another $ 350 billion will go to help state and local governments bridge budget deficits.

Biden's bazooka is added to the $ 2.2 trillion stimulus program approved in March and the supplemental relief plan agreed in December by Congress, after months of partisan lockdown, worth $ 900 billion. Proof of the exceptionalness of the situation is the green light that Biden has obtained from pressure groups such as the US Chamber of Commerce, which has often opposed Obama's economic initiatives and has now not only failed to hamper the plans of the new President, but has applauded his commitment "to vaccination and sectors and families that continue to suffer" as a result of the pandemic. The positive reaction of the bags – all Wall Street indices broke records on Wednesday, when he took office and signed his first measures – confirms the confidence in his plans.

A complete battery of measures against the pandemic has been added to the executive orders announced on Wednesday, including recourse to the Defense Production Law, enacted in 1950 in response to the Korean War and which allows mobilizing the industrial sector For the sake of national security, to expedite the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) to health workers. Accelerating the distribution of the vaccine, but also multiplying the diagnostic tests and producing the rest of the necessary material to avoid contagion, is vital. His team of advisers has identified a dozen looming shortages in must-have materials like N95 masks and insulating suits. As at the beginning of the pandemic, when dependence on Chinese production was demonstrated, the superpower's economy is reeling from the prosaic onslaught of a virus and the proven absence of an action plan by the outgoing Administration. Biden's will have to start from scratch.

10 million 'green' jobs

In the first full week of January, 1.15 million Americans signed up for unemployment, the highest number since July, although the data for the second week was somewhat more encouraging (alone 900,000); The unemployment rate, however, is likely not to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023, according to the Federal Reserve. The new Secretary of the Treasury (or Minister of Economy), Janet Yellen, is precisely an expert in the labor market, and Biden himself has made clear his intention to create ten million jobs green: The idea is to take advantage of the situation to reformulate the economic fabric of the country, with a firm commitment to clean energy that may encounter opposition in states that are economically dependent on the oil industry or the fracking, or hydraulic fracturing. Biden is starting in a big way, as evidenced by the fact that he revoked, via executive order, the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline as soon as he stepped on the White House. The energy project, an investment of 9,000 million approved by Trump, became the last decade a symbol of the struggle and ecological and political polarization of the country.

In other areas, the Democrat will not stray from the autarkic tendency of his predecessor. This is the case of the manufacturing industry, which will have a leading role on its agenda. He Made in america of the democrat remembers, mutedly, the America first of Trump, an economic nationalism that also characterizes the programs of leaders such as the Indian Narendra Modi or the Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Imagine a future made in america. We will use taxpayer dollars to rebuild America. We will buy American products, supporting millions of jobs in the manufacturing sector, ”he announced last Thursday, in a subtle display of populism reminiscent of Trump's proclamations.

But the breath of social justice defines his program, not only because of the increase in the minimum wage, but also because of his decision to extend the food stamps throughout 2021 and the protection of tenants threatened with eviction, extending the moratorium until September, in another nod to progressives. His ambitious measures have been described by prominent Republicans as "too many, and too fast," and the question about their viability falls on the more moderate faction of Democrats, traditionally cautious in economic and political policy, when it comes to legislative processing. now surpassed by the audacity of a plan unparalleled from the historical momentum of the New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Depression Era. Held by very small majorities in each House, Biden will have to fight each of his measures to the last vote, but the melody rings compelling: create jobs and attack poverty to stimulate growth and reduce deficits. An arduous task, with Sisyphus risks, but no one expects that remaining a superpower in times of pandemic will be a piece of cake.

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