On Thursday, days before his inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden unveiled the details of the American Rescue Plan: his $1.9 trillion emergency COVID-19 relief package. As detailed in the plan by Biden, all funds will go towards a national vaccine program, state and local aid, and direct relief. “The decisions we make in the next few weeks and months are going to determine whether we thrive in a way that benefits all Americans or that we stay stuck in place where those at the top do great while economic growth for most everyone else is just a spectator sport,” Biden said in an announcement. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have praised Biden’s plan. But there’s one big problem with it.
Biden, and other Democrats, have promised $2,000 stimulus checks time and time again. In a January 4 speech, ahead of Georgia’s run-off elections, Biden said, “If you send Jon [Ossoff] and the Reverend [Raphael Warnock] to Washington, those $2,000 checks will go out the door, restoring hope and decency and honor for so many people struggling right now.” That’s not exactly what’s happening, though. Under Biden’s plan, Americans will just receive $1,400 a month in a third stimulus installment. The logic here, apparently, is that Donald Trump’s administration already sent out $600 back in December. In Biden’s words, the $1,400 check will “finish the job” started by Trump — but, as many have been quick to point out, this isn’t nearly enough.
Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey praised Biden for taking immediate action to help Americans and fund vaccine distribution. But he reiterated the need to enact the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act, a piece of legislation he introduced with Senator Bernie Sanders back in May. The act would provide Americans with monthly checks of $2,000 throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and continue for three months after the pandemic ends.
After months of neglect from the Trump Administration and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Americans need relief more than ever. Even though Biden’s package is an improvement from what we would have under Trump, it still pales in comparison to other countries’ plans — and, more importantly, it pales in comparison to the plan Americans need. Just look at Australia: everyone who had lost their income as a result of the pandemic was sent $1,500 AUD (roughly $1,136 USD) every two weeks. It’s not a coincidence that the country has pretty much eliminated the virus altogether.
The American Rescue Plan is a promising start, but that’s just what is: a start. Americans need more than another one-time payment. And much more than $1,400.