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Video: Biden presents $ 1.9 trillion economy rescue package

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Biden Introduces $ 1.9 Trillion Economy Rescue Package

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday proposed a spending package to combat the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus. The plan includes $ 1,400 in direct payments to individuals and more generous unemployment benefits.

During this pandemic, millions of Americans, through no fault of their own, have lost the dignity and respect that come with work and a paycheck. Millions of Americans never thought they would be out of work. Many of them have never even considered the idea – face eviction, waiting hours in their cars to feed their families as they drive to a food bank. A growing chorus of senior economists agree that the time of crisis – at this time of crisis, with interest rates at historically low levels, we cannot afford inaction. A bailout also includes immediate help for Americans most affected and in need. We will complete the work of providing a total of $ 2,000 in cash to those who need it most. The $ 600 already allocated is simply not enough. One in seven households in America, more than one in five Black and Latin households in America, report not having enough to eat. We will therefore expand emergency nutrition assistance to 30 – for 43 million children and their families enrolled in the SNAP program by the end of this year. To the millions of you who are just looking for a chance to fight in this economy, I promise you, we will not forget you. We understand what you are going through. We will never, ever give up.

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As crises intensify, Biden pledges to act to fight economy and pandemic

WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Friday promised an accelerated response to a series of daunting and growing challenges as the economy shows further signs of weakness, as the coronavirus pandemic has killed more Americans than ever and Congress weighed the impeachment of President Trump. second time.

As Washington remained consumed by the fallout from the Capitol storm on Wednesday, and Democrats intensified their efforts to hold Mr. Trump accountable for his role in inciting the attack, Biden signaled that he intended to stay focused on jobs and pandemics, declining to comment on whether the House should impeach Mr. Trump.

The Labor Department once reported that the economy lost 140,000 jobs in December, ending a seven-month streak of growth after the country plunged into recession in the spring, Mr Biden said there had “an urgent and urgent need to act now. “

He has pledged to act quickly once he becomes president to push a stimulus package through Congress to help struggling individuals, small businesses, students, local governments and schools.

Mr. Biden and his associates have yet to complete the proposal or pay the full amount. Forecasters expect further job losses this month, a victim of the upsurge in the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown impositions and other restrictions on economic activity by state and local authorities aimed at slow down the spread.

“The price will be high,” Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Del.

“There is a need to spend the money now,” he said, apparently referring to all of his set of economic plans, including both immediate aid and a bigger bill that includes infrastructure spending. “The answer is yes, it will be in the trillions of dollars.”

The Biden team is also planning a wave of economic action that won’t require congressional approval. Mr Biden’s aides said on Friday that the president-elect would order the education department to extend a hiatus on student loan payments originally issued under Mr Trump. Mr. Biden called on Congress on Friday to take “quick action” to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $ 15 an hour.

He also pledged to redouble efforts to slow the spread of the virus, which now kills 4,000 every day – more than those who perished during the Battle of Antietam during the Civil War, the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 or the terrorist attacks. on September 11, 2001. Mr Biden’s team said the president-elect would immediately provide more vaccines to states when he takes office, clearly breaking with Mr Trump’s practice of withholding a few injections for second doses .

“People are really, really, really in desperate shape,” Biden said.

While claiming that the issue of Mr. Trump’s impeachment was up to Congress, he again assaulted the president for his conduct in power even as he sought to position himself as focused on the issues of greatest concern to voters: their health and economic security. .

“I thought for a long, long time that President Trump was unfit for this job,” Biden said. “My focus is on the virus, the vaccine and economic growth. What Congress decides to do is for them to decide.

“But,” he added quickly, “they’re going to have to hit the ground running.”

Along with the powers of the presidency he will assume at noon on January 20, Mr. Biden will assume the responsibility of guiding the country through a collision of crises more varied and intense than those faced by his recent predecessors. Besides the pandemic and the slowing economy, they include racial tensions that demand reconciliation after simmering for decades and a deep political divide that erupted in violence on Wednesday and shook the country’s assumptions about its tradition of peaceful transfers. to be able to.

“It’s bigger than his presidency. It will take a generation to work on all of this, ”said Rahm Emanuel, who was former President Barack Obama’s chief of staff when he took office during the economic crisis more than ten years ago.

“He will take the first steps,” Emanuel said of Mr. Biden. “But you don’t face 20 years of change in a week or two. It is a generation of work. “

Mr Biden – who repeated on Friday his pledge to work with Republicans to move his agenda forward – now faces the real prospect that Mr Trump could stand trial for sedition in the Senate as he takes office.

This work begins in earnest in 12 days, and Mr Biden’s aides have said he expects lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to get to work quickly, even as the question of Mr. Trump dominates the conversation in Washington.

The steps President Nancy Pelosi took to impeach Mr. Trump a second time came after a wave of anger from members of both parties over what many have called an insurgency by supporters of the president. On Friday, Biden called them “a bunch of thugs, insurgents, white supremacists, anti-Semites” who had “the active encouragement of a sitting president of the United States.”

But Mr Biden seemed aware of the political risk of becoming the primary spokesperson for the punishment and impeachment of his predecessor, and the danger that a prolonged indictment and trial could delay or derail his hopes of a quick passage. of its main items on the agenda.

He said he may have openly supported impeachment if the Capitol bombings had taken place after Mr. Trump had six months to run. But he has repeatedly suggested that the best way to get rid of the current president was to wait for Mr Biden’s inauguration.

“The question is: what happens with 14 days left or 13 days left?” Mr Biden said, later adding: “My focus now is on our takeover, as president and vice-president, on the 20th, and on moving our agenda forward as quickly as possible.”

The president-elect said he believed events on Capitol Hill Wednesday could serve as a time to bring people together, and he pointed to Senators Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Mitt Romney of Utah, both Republicans, as examples of political opponents who shared his anger at what had happened.

“Many of them are as outraged, disappointed, embarrassed and mortified by the president’s conduct as I am,” Biden said.

But in the same breath, he pointed to the divisions that remain in Washington, lashing out at Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas for leading the effort to overturn the election on Mr. Trump’s behalf and for broadcasting from misinformation to the president’s supporters who helped whip them into a frenzy.

He said he agreed with some Republicans who said “how shameful it is the way Ted Cruz and others are dealing with this, how they are also responsible for what happened”.

When asked if Mr Cruz should resign, Mr Biden said: ‘I think they should just be beaten flat the next time they run. I think the American public has a pretty good idea of ​​who he is. They are part of the big lie.

Mr Biden said he had to unveil his legislative agenda to deal with the coronavirus crisis and its economic consequences on Thursday, six days before his inauguration as 46th president.

Mr Biden’s economics team is deeply engaged in the process of developing proposals for a second stimulus bill and a broader economic package, including infrastructure spending and tax increases for the rich . Helpers and Main Democrats in Congress hope to speed up the process through Congress once Mr. Biden takes office.

“A devastating pandemic, an economic crisis, a country torn by political division and mistrust, severely damaged institutions and shattered global alliances,” said David Axelrod, who served as political advisor to Mr. Obama for his first two years to the White House. . “He’s got his hands full.

Mr Biden and his colleagues were particularly struck by two grim figures in Friday’s employment report: the loss of nearly 500,000 jobs in December in the leisure and hospitality industry, and thousands of jobs in public education – a warning sign of this state. budget cuts could further slow the recovery in the coming months.

They are particularly focused on direct checks on individuals, a policy Mr Biden and Democratic Senate candidates hammered out in the Georgia runoff that gave their party control of the chamber, and on efforts to fight the pandemic by speeding up virus testing and deployment. vaccines.

The outlines of these proposals are starting to take shape. The stimulus package will include Mr Biden’s call for an additional $ 1,400 in direct payments to adults and children who qualified for $ 600 payments approved as part of the lame stimulus passed last month, bearing the total profit at $ 2000 per person.

The challenge of leading his stimulus plans through a tightly divided Senate was exposed on Friday, when a moderate Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia said direct payments of $ 2,000 should not be the top priority of legislation and that he would prefer checks to be targeted “to those who need it. “

The package will also include additional benefits for the estimated 11 million Americans who are still classified as unemployed by the Department of Labor, tenant assistance and assistance for small business owners, with a focus on owned businesses. women and minorities. He will present what Mr. Biden promised would be tens of billions of dollars to help schools reopen safely, tens of billions to help state and local governments keep essential workers at work and “billions of dollars”. dollars to get vaccines out of a vial into someone’s arm. . “

Senate leaders – like Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders, who will head the budget committee, and Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, who will be the finance committee chair – said in interviews this week that they were preparing to work quickly. with Mr. Biden’s team to draft new economic bailout legislation.

Mr Sanders said he spoke to Mr Biden on Thursday about the proposals and Mr Sanders’ staff were already working on clarifying the details.

“He will, I know, do whatever he can to deal with the economic and health crises facing our country,” Sanders said of Mr. Biden. “The crisis is extremely serious and we must act as quickly as possible.”

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How to get the economy going and when to worry about all that debt

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the US economy. Job losses resulting from the health crisis have wiped out years of gains, hitting women, people of color and lower-paid workers hardest, already vulnerable to economic fluctuations. It is estimated that 60% of the businesses – around 100,000 individual establishments – that have temporarily closed their doors as a result of Covid-19 have closed their doors for good, with more to follow in the months to come.

It will be a dark winter for many companies. And while hope looms on the horizon in the form of vaccines, the toll is likely to worsen before it improves.

Given the limited number of initial doses and the increase in the number of cases in the United States, “the reality is that December, January and February are going to be difficult times,” said Dr. Robert Redfield of the Centers for Disease Control recently. and Prevention. “I actually believe this will be the most difficult time in the history of public health in this country.” This means that the economy will suffer as well.

As part of the DealBook DC Policy Project, the New York Times convened a virtual panel of experts in early December to discuss economic policy priorities in the months and years to come. The consensus was that a huge aid package is now needed to keep households and businesses afloat. In Washington, lawmakers said they were making “significant progress” on stimulus talks, but negotiations had yet to reach a deal of any magnitude. And once the pandemic has been brought under control and in-person activities can safely resume, policymakers must figure out how to fix a crumbling economy – and better yet, protect it from the next disaster.

The participants:

The United States needs an aid package now, and it has to be big. Really big.

The panel agreed that the United States would now have to spend a lot to support the economy before a critical mass of the population has a chance to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Wendy Edelberg, senior researcher at the Brookings Institution and former chief economist at the Congressional Budget Office, made the case for spending in the order of $ 2 trillion, “if we really wanted to do it right”:

“Considering how multipliers work, marginal propensities to consume labor and how it all turns into an economy, this is about the size of the package you need. Now, given the risk of this being too big and causing the economy to spin too quickly, I’m not worried about the extent of our tools to deal with it.

Be prepared for the first quarter of next year to be bad. Really bad.

The emergence of promising vaccines means many Americans will continue to curl up knowing that the end of the pandemic is in sight. Local authorities can also put in place lockdowns to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed during the winter. That could mean a collapse in economic activity in the first quarter of 2021, on par with the initial lockdowns in the early months of the pandemic.

Economist Kevin Hassett, who served as Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers from 2017 to 2019, explained what lies ahead:

“We’re about to have a crater, again, much like we had in the second quarter. It will be very serious. And we kind of have to get to the other side of it. And I guess you shouldn’t expect Congress to be able to move, because it’s going to have to be confirmed before March or so. So what you need to do is pack a package big enough to get us into March, and simple enough that they can do it quickly in the lame session.

There will come a time to worry about the national debt again. This time is not now.

Maya MacGuineas is the head of an organization called Campaign to Fix the Debt, which is dedicated to the thesis that “America’s growing national debt deeply threatens our economic future.” But even she says now is not the time to worry about borrowing.

“Responsible fiscal policy borrows like crazy right now,” MacGuineas said. There will come a time, she said, to reassess the tradeoffs. In the meantime, it’s time to move on, but be aware that a pivot will be needed at some point:

“No matter which party is in power, it’s good to be able to implement your agenda without having to pay for it. We saw this in the four years leading up to this downturn, and I’m afraid there are many voices that we shouldn’t be paying for things later. But I think responsible fiscal policy is borrowing like crazy right now. Things that are targeted, smart things, to keep the economy going. But once we stabilize the economy, be prepared to reduce this debt so that it doesn’t grow faster than the economy.

The urgency of economic aid cannot be an excuse for programs that worsen inequalities.

Several panelists expressed frustration that the initial government assistance was poorly targeted, distributing smaller amounts of money more diffusely rather than focusing on households and businesses that would be most affected by closures in the event of a pandemic. Now, there is a risk that in rushing to get money out, the same mistakes will happen again.

One of the risks of rushed decision-making is that aid worsens inequalities and puts disadvantaged communities at greater risk, said Heather Higginbottom of PolicyCenter at JPMorgan Chase, who previously held positions in the Department of State and Office of Management and Budget under President Barack Obama:

“I think you hear some of the frustration, ‘Why hasn’t there been action yet?’ Because you are crafting a much better policy when you have a deliberate opportunity to really resolve some of these. problems only when you force something potentially into a lame duck.

The New School’s Darrick Hamilton presented overlooked but crucial mechanisms for promoting greater equity that should be considered, and which may not have been part of the first round of stimulus. Underbanked black-owned businesses, for example, could not easily receive financial assistance, even if they were eligible. And then, returning to the topic of debt, he said policymakers should consider canceling certain types of household debt that could weigh on people long after the pandemic is over:

We are throwing the ball on the road when it comes to evictions and seizures, which is the right thing to do, to put moratoria on evictions. But there are still a lot of people who are good underwater. So I think we need to start thinking about debt forgiveness in various ways. Obviously student debt, but a creative way to deal with the fact that you’re going to have people, when we open up, that are way below and way behind.

It won’t be business as usual – legally speaking – after the pandemic.

Suzanne Clark, of the Chamber of Commerce, noted that businesses are worried about health responsibility as they open up and even after the pandemic has subsided. This could be a drag on growth, she said:

“We continue to hear from small businesses that are really concerned about liability. And there’s a precedent, we did after 9/11, where there can be very targeted, very temporary, and very targeted liability protections for businesses that are opening up, following current guidelines for disclosure. public health, doing all they can to keep people healthy. I’m not talking about bad actors, but people who are really doing everything we know how to do right now to keep people healthy and open their doors. They really worry that at the end of the day they will wake up and have some other reason to go bankrupt when they are sued for it.

To revive the economy and bring back a divided nation again, invest in infrastructure.

The pandemic has exposed places where America’s technological infrastructure has become worn and thin, from communities lacking the broadband access needed for work and online learning to government systems that have faltered under demand for testing. virus. Investing in infrastructure has long been an issue with bipartisan support and offers the potential to directly employ people while improving communities.

“At a time when agreements on common things are not abundant, I would start there,” said Félix V. Matos Rodríguez of City University of New York. He presented a vision for infrastructure spending that his fellow experts endorsed and linked many themes that were raised throughout the discussion:

“It has the benefit of touching on a lot of the topics that we’re discussing here – the way you can do it, bringing in extra wealth equality and things like that. There are some obvious things that everyone mentions when you think of infrastructure, namely roads, tunnels and things like that. I think you have to add our IT infrastructure, which in the pandemic we have seen how much we depend on it and how these gaps are really coming back to haunt us, for the business world, for the educational community, for all sectors of the world. society and economy. “

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$ 900 billion plan would help the economy, but not fix it

The economic recovery, which has been slowing for months, is in danger of being reversed. That’s why a growing list of economists, business lobbyists and other advocacy groups is urging lawmakers to rally around the $ 908 billion aid package that is currently gaining bipartisan support in Congress.

A plan of this size wouldn’t do everything economists say Congress should do to help workers and businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. But they said if lawmakers could get the details correct, Congress would have to do it anyway.

“It’s in the range where you could say it’s doing enough good to be worth it,” said William E. Spriggs, a Howard University economist who served in the department. of Labor under President Barack Obama. “But that leaves a ton on the table, and still leaves us with a big problem going forward.”

The $ 908 billion compromise is not even a legislative proposal yet. It is a bipartisan cadre, assembled by a group of senators led by Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia. Many of its details are still being negotiated, including how the government should distribute more aid to small businesses.

Once the bill is finished, its success is not guaranteed: Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has stopped approving it, as has President Trump, who is expected to sign any legislation approved during the lame congressional session. . But President Nancy Pelosi of California backed it as a starting point for new negotiations, and President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. said on Friday he was “encouraged” by the effort.

Experts say the plan would relieve several segments of the struggling economy. It includes nearly $ 300 billion for small business assistance, $ 180 billion for the unemployed, and $ 160 billion for state, local and tribal governments.

The plan would not help everyone who needs help, and the support may not last long enough to link the economy to the rebound that is expected to occur when the coronavirus vaccines are widely distributed. And a lot depends on the details, especially when it comes to Americans who have been unemployed for months and small businesses that struggled to tap into government programs at the start of the pandemic.

But if the plan was passed quickly, it would send money quickly. And with the increase in virus cases and the stalling of economic gains, a growing number of politicians are ready to accept such a compromise.

“You get most of the way, you don’t look back at the end,” said Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio, one of the many Republican governors who called for more federal aid. “We can’t stop now, and I guess I would say this to my friends in Congress: we need your help once again here. Help us through what is going to be a very difficult winter.

November employment data released by the Labor Ministry on Friday underscored his point of view. Job growth slowed to 245,000, the weakest monthly gain in the recovery to date. The number of people trapped in long-term unemployment has risen to almost four million. Restaurants and retailers, whose rehiring of workers on leave helped to recover in previous months, cut jobs in November. The number of people who have lost their jobs permanently has increased, the latest sign that the crisis will leave lasting economic consequences.

“I have a greater sense of urgency now, especially after seeing the jobs report,” said Karen Dynan, Harvard economist and former Treasury Department official in the Obama administration. “We’re really starting to see the cracks now.”

Perhaps the main goal of the aid program is to prevent millions of families from losing their only source of income the week after Christmas.

As many as 13 million Americans receive benefits under two programs that broadened and extended the existing unemployment insurance program. These programs, created by Congress in the spring, are expected to expire at the end of the year – an outcome members of both political parties have said they want to avoid.

The aid package discussed in Congress would expand both programs, while restoring additional unemployment benefits that expired over the summer, likely to half of the original level of $ 600 per week. But depending on how negotiations unfold, this may not further extend eligibility for people who are already close to the end of their benefits.

Putting money in the pockets of the unemployed could be good for the economy at large: Research has shown that unemployment benefits are among the most effective forms of economic stimulation because recipients are likely to spend rather than to save money. And by helping families avoid foreclosures, evictions and defaults, unemployment benefits can prevent financial damage from spreading.

But the most convincing argument is perhaps not economic but humanitarian: without the money, many families could go hungry, become homeless and face other hardships.

“If households are in financial disaster, then we have a moral obligation as a country to help households regardless of what their spending or not doing to the overall economy,” said Wendy Edelberg, director of Hamilton Project, an economic policy arm of the Brookings Institution.

The money in the proposal would similarly provide a lifeline for some small businesses that risk shutting down permanently amid low demand between now and when vaccines become available. Even large businesses could be affected if many small businesses go bankrupt, which is one of the reasons large trading groups have called for immediate help for small businesses.

“The jobs created by small businesses impact the ability of large businesses to sell to these people,” said Suzanne Clark, president of the US Chamber of Commerce. “So we’re really concerned about the whole ecosystem and the number of small businesses hanging by a thread.”

But many business groups warn the compromise plan does not include enough money, potentially leaving some businesses without help, in a repeat of the government’s first round of loans from the government’s paycheck protection program in the spring. . Lawmakers could again almost immediately face pressure to allocate more money to the program.

The aid structure is unlikely to provide a long-term bridge for certain types of businesses, many in the hospitality sector, which may not return to pre-pandemic activity levels during months or years.

The deal would provide money for states and local governments, although the $ 160 billion under discussion is only a small fraction of the $ trillion originally proposed by Democrats last spring.

State and local aid has been a major sticking point in the negotiations, with Mr McConnell calling it a ‘rescue of the blue state’. But Republican-led states face some of the biggest income gaps.

States and local governments, which have been hit by the costs of the pandemic and collapsing tax revenues, have already cut more than 1.3 million jobs, and much deeper cuts are looming. These cuts could have short and long term consequences. A new round of layoffs and leaves in the public sector, combined with the slowdown in private sector hiring, could derail the fragile recovery. And cuts to schools, public transport and other services could make it more difficult to regain economic momentum after the pandemic has passed.

Even if Congress reaches a deal before the end of the year, Mr Biden warned on Friday that lawmakers would have to spend more once he takes office. “The country will be in a desperate, disastrous situation if it does not,” he said.

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US economy stumbles as coronavirus spreads widely

Layoffs are rising again and Americans’ incomes are dropping, the latest signs that a resurgence of a pandemic and declining government assistance are undermining the U.S. economic recovery.

Claims for state unemployment benefits rose for the second week in a row last week, the Labor Department said on Wednesday. Unemployment reports have risen by more than 100,000 from the first week of November, when they hit their lowest level since last spring, the start of the pandemic.

Forecasters have been warning for weeks that rising coronavirus cases could have dire economic consequences as consumers cut spending and cities and states reimpose restrictions on businesses and social gatherings. But while job gains and other markers of progress have slowed since the summer, the recovery has proved surprisingly resilient.

Now cracks are starting to appear. Unemployment claims, unadjusted for seasonal trends, jumped from 78,000 last week to nearly 828,000 – a big change after rising 18,000 the week before. It was the first time that deposits had increased for two consecutive weeks since the beginning of September, and the largest two-week increase since April. Measures of consumer confidence fell sharply in November, and real-time data from private sources shows the labor market is slowing or reversing.

Any reversal would be disappointing after months of economic progress. But that would hardly be surprising given the new wave of lockouts and trade restrictions that made further layoffs almost inevitable. In recent weeks, Chicago has imposed a new stay-at-home order, Los Angeles County has suspended outdoor dining, and Philadelphia has banned most private gatherings indoors. Several states have ended or restricted indoor dining. And even where authorities haven’t passed any new rules, many consumers are likely to voluntarily restrict their activity to avoid contracting the virus.

“The most obvious culprit for the increase in claims is the growing pandemic,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at career site Glassdoor. “It seems it was only a matter of time before it started showing up in the economic data.”

The latest data is not universally gloomy. The Commerce Department reported on Wednesday that orders for expensive products like machinery, a measure of business confidence, rose in October. New home sales have also jumped, as lower interest rates continue to push the housing market up. Households have $ 1 trillion more in savings than before the pandemic, money that could fuel consumer spending when vaccines become widely available and the threat of the virus subsides. And the stock market, that very imperfect barometer of the economy, has set new highs.

But for those people and industries most at risk, the outlook is bleak. In addition to the new round of trade restrictions, a new wave of school closures could push parents – and especially mothers – to withdraw from the workforce. A growing number of economists are predicting a “double dip” recession, in which economic activity contracts again early next year.

Unlike spring, families and businesses will have to weather the latest closures on their own. Federal programs that provided billions of dollars in support to small businesses and the unemployed expired over the summer, and efforts to revive them stalled in Congress. Many of the remaining programs expire at the end of the year.

Data released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday showed personal income fell 0.7% in October, with lower government assistance offsetting gains in wages and salaries. Consumer spending rose 0.5%, the smallest increase since the recovery started last spring.

“Part of the reason the recovery has worked so well is that there has been so much help for the businesses and workers affected, and now is really not the time to tear defeat from the jaws of victory, ”said Julia Pollak, labor economist at ZipRecruiter. Further help, she said, was needed to “prevent this temporary disruption from turning into permanent destruction.”

Both Democratic and Republican leaders have said they want to adopt a relief package before the end of the year. But the two sides remain far apart and the prospects for a quick deal look bleak.

Congressional aides and outside groups monitoring stimulus talks said this week they didn’t expect rising jobless claims to prompt Senate Republicans to agree to anything close to the 2-pack. trillions of dollars that Democrats have wanted for months.

Aid to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. foresees the possibility of another contraction in the economy and has called on lawmakers to approve a stimulus deal ahead of his inauguration in January. A small group of House Democrats have pressured President Nancy Pelosi to accept a smaller deal in order to reach a compromise with Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.

The stakes are especially high for the nearly 14 million Americans who receive unemployment benefits through a pair of emergency programs that will expire next month.

Data released on Wednesday showed that in early November, around nine million people were enrolled in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, which covers freelancers, self-employed workers and others who are not. not eligible for regular state benefits. This program has been plagued by fraud and double-counting, and many economists believe the Department of Labor’s tally inflates the true total. Yet regardless of the measure, there are millions of people enrolled in the program who will lose their benefits when it expires.

An additional 4.5 million people are receiving payments under the Emergency Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program, which adds 13 weeks of benefits to the 26 weeks available in most states. Enrollments have grown rapidly as more people reach the end of their regular state benefits.

Some of these people will be eligible for a separate federal top-up program that existed before the pandemic. But this program is not available in all states.

For workers, the timing could hardly be worse.

“We’re going to be in the dead of winter, virus cases are likely to explode and the holiday season is over,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, economist at Careers Indeed. “It puts those who might drop out of these benefit programs in a really precarious situation.”

Adding to the risk: Federal rules to block evictions and allow borrowers to defer payments on mortgages and student loans also expire at the end of the year. The Trump administration could choose to extend them, but if they don’t, families could lose their only source of income and lose the protections that keep them at home.

“It’s kind of like hitting a giant brick wall,” said Elizabeth Pancotti, a policy researcher who co-authored a recent report on the cliff of benefits. “Not that there was a good time for all of these programs to end, but maybe all on the same day was not a good idea.”

Jim Tankersley contributed reporting.

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The pandemic economy

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The next few months could be very unpleasant for the US economy.

Many states are reimposing restrictions on coronaviruses, which will likely lead to further cuts in consumer spending and layoffs of workers. As Jerome Powell, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, recently said: “We have new cases at an all time high, we have seen a number of states start to reimpose limited activity restrictions, and people may lose the confidence that he is safe to leave. outside.”

In addition to the economic risks, several of the government’s biggest virus rescue programs are set to expire next month. It’s unclear whether Congress will renew them, as Democrats and Republicans in Congress disagree on how to do it. Democrats prefer a bigger bailout than Republicans.

Without a new stimulus package, a double dip recession is possible. In an analysis circulating among the aides of President-elect Joe Biden, research firm Moody’s Analytics predicted that the economy would contract in the first and second quarters of 2021 and that the unemployment rate would approach 10% next summer, against 6.9% last month. .

Many Americans would cut back on their savings or find it difficult to pay their medical bills. Some would lose their homes and go bankrupt. Recessions cause permanent damage to people’s lives, which is why Fed officials and many economists are backing further stimulus.

A lack of government support, Powell said, can lead to “tragic” results with “unnecessary hardship.” Loretta Mester, chairman of the Cleveland Fed, called the lack of another stimulus package “very concerning.”

The longer-term picture is more encouraging, however. There is reason to hope that the next economic recovery, when it does occur, will be stronger than the woefully weak recovery from the financial crisis of 2007-2009.

Why? After this crisis, many households were facing large debts. Today, household balance sheets are in better shape. And once a vaccine arrives, many Americans will feel a pent-up urge to spend – on vacations, business trips, dining out, clothing, elective medical procedures, concert and sports tickets, and more.

“It is assumed that we will get this pandemic under control at some point next year,” writes Paul Krugman, Times columnist (and Nobel Prize-winning economist). “It’s also a good bet that when we do, the economy will come back strong.”

The bottom line: Predictions for the virus and the economy have a lot in common. The country is heading into a dark period – one that will bring widespread disease, death and financial suffering (and this government policy has a chance to improve). Still, the second half of 2021 promises better times.

  • Biden plans to appoint longtime foreign policy adviser Antony Blinken as secretary of state. Biden will announce Blinken and other cabinet candidates tomorrow. (Here’s Blinken in an episode of the Ax Files podcast from 2017.)

  • Biden’s inauguration will feature “scaled-down versions of existing lore” due to the virus, his new chief of staff, Ron Klain, said. It can also involve virtual elements.

  • President Trump’s campaign disowned Sidney Powell, one of the president’s attorneys who pushed bogus allegations of voter fraud, after he brought out fierce accusations that Republican officials were involved in a voter fraud scheme.

  • More Republicans – including Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and former Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey – have called on Trump to back down.

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia held their first known meeting last night in Saudi Arabia, according to Israeli media. This could signal an accelerating warming of relations.

  • French police officers questioned at least 14 children and adolescents on charges of inappropriate behavior during a minute of silence for a teacher who was beheaded last month. Some children are accused of “defending terrorism”.

  • Florida officials are investigating the fatal shooting of two black teens during a meeting with a sheriff’s deputy this month.

  • Guitar Center, the largest retailer of musical instruments in the United States, has filed for bankruptcy.

  • Archaeologists have found the nearly 2,000-year-old remains of two people frozen in time by the volcanic eruption that buried the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.

A close shave: For ski patrollers providing emergency medical care, a beard has long been the norm. But not this year: As the face masks continue, the beards are coming off.

From books: Barack Obama took nearly four years to publish his memoir in the White House – longer than any president of the last century. One factor: he wrote the book himself.

From the review: After years of passively watching the nationalist governments of Hungary and Poland undermine democracy, the European Union is finally fighting back, writes the Times editorial board.

Lives lived: Pat Quinn learned he had ALS a month after his 30th birthday. In 2014, he helped make the Ice Bucket Challenge a viral sensation, raising hundreds of millions to fight the disease. He died at the age of 37.

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Last month Netflix released “Emily in Paris,” a show about – you guessed it – an American woman living in Paris. It attracted a large following, although critics criticized it and many regular viewers complained about it while watching it. As Kevin Fallon wrote in The Daily Beast: “’Emily in Paris’ was so annoying. I can’t wait to see more episodes. “

The show is an example of a growing genre on streaming services – what Kyle Chayka in The New Yorker called “ambient television.” Think of it as the TV equivalent of background music, something you can mindlessly watch while scrolling through your phone or doing household chores. “Emily in Paris,” Chayka added, “is calming, slow and relatively monotonous.” Netflix has already renewed it for a second season.

Other examples include interior design shows like “Dream Home Makeover” and food programs like “Taco Chronicles”. They’re in part a response to high-profile shows like “Mad Men” and “Game of Thrones,” both of which feature complex narratives that demand attention. Ambient television, on the other hand, allows viewers to relax. It makes sense that in a year marked by a pandemic and political anxiety, people will turn to something that is entirely simple for entertainment. It draws on what Kathryn VanArendonk of the New York magazine calls “the desire for comfort”.

Served on hot tortillas with a simple salsa, these fish tacos are a tasty throwback to summer.

Oxford has announced its Word of the Year 2020, and… there is no winner. Instead of just one word, Oxford highlights how the pandemic has changed the way we talk.

Desire to escape? Scrolling through real estate listings in remote locations on the Zillow website offers a way to visualize an alternate life whether you’re trying to relocate or not.

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Biden and Harris will talk about the economy today.

As the country grapples with the twin crisis of the coronavirus pandemic and the economy it has ravaged, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris will speak this afternoon about their plans long term to oversee the recovery.

Mr Biden’s remarks, delivered with Ms Harris of Wilmington, Del., Will come as the pandemic soars to new heights in the United States, but early data shows hope for an effective coronavirus vaccine. Mr Biden’s pick for White House chief of staff Ron Klain on Sunday told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the top science advisers on his team would begin consultations with drug company officials this week. .

Mr Klain also said Mr Biden spoke with President Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, on Friday about the need for urgent action on a coronavirus relief bill. . Mr. Biden has yet to speak with Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, Mr. Klain said.

Much of what Mr Biden could accomplish will depend on the January runoff election in Georgia, which will determine control of the Senate. Two Democratic challengers – Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock – seek to overthrow Republicans. Mr Klain hinted that Mr Biden would likely campaign in Georgia.

Regardless of the outcome of those races, Mr Klain, a veteran Democrat, said Mr Biden already plans to quickly join the Paris climate accord, to protect young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers. and act on health care.

“We have a loaded and loaded day 1 in all scenarios here,” he said.

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Why this contentious transition is so perilous for the economy

Even under this circumstance, however, there were still significant disagreements over how to respond to the crisis: how the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) rescue money should be spent, what conditions should be imposed on banks that have received the money, how auto companies should be treated, and much more. People knew a change was coming, but not what was going to happen in the meantime, and they feared that no one was really responsible. The crisis has intensified.

I have focused on the economic crises, but the problem is even bigger than that. Some of the country’s biggest political crises also occurred during the transition. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln won the election, promising a clean break with the Democrats and incumbent President James Buchanan. The election of Lincoln has raised tensions. States have spoken openly about secession.

President Buchanan, a lame duck, announced that he did not believe the federal government had the power to prevent states from leaving. Within weeks, South Carolina voted to secede, followed by six other states, all before the inauguration. Shortly after Lincoln took office, the Civil War began.

Which brings us to 2020. Even before the elections, the coronavirus had exploded and was raging across much of the country. The United States has had more than 140,000 cases in one day, an increasing number of hospitalizations and has even witnessed several super-propagative events in the White House that have infected the president, his chief of staff, members of the cabinet. and senior advisers.

Economists have stressed from the start that controlling the spread of the virus is essential to repairing the economy. The CARES Act, the bailout passed in March, provided temporary relief in hopes the virus would abate quickly. But as that money ran out, a wide gap opened between the approach of the outgoing Trump administration (which has repeatedly advocated for less and downplayed the seriousness of the problem) and the new Biden administration, whose the first action after the election was to appoint a board of medical advisers and push an aggressive agenda to bring the coronavirus under control.

And so the nation, once again, counts down the months before a new administration changes the direction of the country, wondering what policy the federal government will pursue in the meantime, and observing a pre-existing problem that could easily get out of hand. while we wait.

The good news is that there is a good chance that we may have an effective vaccine widely available next year.