WATCH: Biden celebrates relief from COVID-19 with Rose Garden event


A day after signing the bill, Biden hosted his first Rose Garden event as president to highlight the US bailout.

WASHINGTON – In 2009, then-Vice President Joe Biden was “Sheriff Joe”, the authority responsible for ensuring that federal dollars from a massive economic aid program got to the right places and quickly.

This time, President Joe Biden’s role is different: He is the top seller of the $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid program, eager to score political points as Americans begin to reap the benefits of the massive government relief effort.

Biden signed the bill Thursday and then extolled it in a prime-time speech to the nation that night. On Friday, he celebrated the package again, this time with Democratic lawmakers at his first Rose Garden event as president.

The White House has mounted an ambitious campaign to present the contents of the law while seeking to create momentum for future and more difficult parts of the president’s broad agenda. Biden will travel to the battlefield states of Pennsylvania and Georgia next week to talk about it, and other senior administration officials will be deploying across the country to do the same.

West Wing aides say there is a determination to avoid the mistakes of more than a decade ago, when President Barack Obama’s administration did not do enough to promote its own economic stimulus package . But Biden is getting a measure of credit for the successful implementation of the plan himself, according to Obama administration veterans.

Biden found himself with oversight of the government’s massive $ 787 billion stimulus package after writing Obama a note on how he should be handled and relishing his role as the program’s top cop.

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He held weekly conference calls with mayors, governors and others to lobby for the wise use of the money, and he called regular Cabinet meetings to keep the end of the program in Washington on track. . At a Cabinet meeting in 2009, Biden urged federal officials to give him a brief warning when projects got behind schedule, saying, “You have to give me more ammo so I can pick up the phone and be the sheriff.”

Biden used his role as “Sheriff Joe” to cut red tape and “inject the stimulus himself into the economy,” said Robert Gibbs, who was Obama’s press secretary at the time. He predicted that Biden would be just as relentless in selling the relief package this time around.

“I would be surprised if two days went by in the next four years without you hearing about the legislation,” Gibbs said. “It’s so important that it’s literally something you say at the last rally in your re-election campaign.”

Biden is expected to appoint someone to oversee the implementation of the COVID-19 relief plan. And while Biden himself isn’t also in the weeds this time around, Wizards still expect plenty of questions from him about exactly where and when the money is being transferred.

“He will play a different role: he is also the commander-in-chief and oversees an economic recovery, overcoming the pandemic and facing a series of crises,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “But in his soul he’s a details guy and he’s going to want to roll up his sleeves and call the mayor, the governor, the local school district to make sure the money comes out the door.”

There are challenges awaiting Biden, although White House advisers point out that polls show the package is popular with Republican voters, even though no GOP lawmaker has voted for it. No Republican had planned to attend the Rose Garden victory lap.

Biden’s White House has adopted the strategy of under-promising and then over-delivering, which allows him to frequently beat target dates and goals, for example, vaccine delivery.

But in his Thursday night speech, Biden laid out an ambitious timeline for all American adults to be eligible for the vaccine by May 1 and dangled the outlook for a near-normal life by July 4. , Biden’s new schedule generated pressure to respond to the bold headlines he produced.

Republicans, who are trying to characterize the COVID-19 relief bill as partisan, believe they will be able to push back the Biden administration much more effectively when the president enters more polarizing parts of his agenda such as the immigration, climate change and voting rights.

“Less than two months after starting his presidency, Biden is showing that he has never really delivered on his promises of bipartisanship and unity,” said GOP President Ronna McDaniel. “Instead of working on significantly targeted relief legislation with Republicans, he chose a hyper-partisan bill full of pork.”

The Obama bill hit headwinds because it followed the bank bailout, conceived under President George W. Bush, and came as the economy remained stagnant. This time, Americans will start to see the impact much sooner – some will even have their $ 1,400 stimulus check deposited this weekend.

The economic forecast also calls for a robust recovery by the end of the year, and Biden should be able to point to concrete job growth, which will make it an easier-to-sell victory than that of 2009.

Jennifer Palmieri, former director of communications at the Obama White House, said Obama had to argue that “things are still bad but would be worse than they are if we had not adopted this.” Biden, on the other hand, she said, is able to tell Americans “that there are signs of life and hope and growth.”

She added, “The White House should feel empowered: the message to be taken from the COVID bill is that Republicans in DC are out of touch with the rest of the country. It’s time to hit the gas.

Below is a breakdown of the main areas of spending legislation:


The legislation provides for a direct payment of $ 1,400 for a single taxpayer, or $ 2,800 for a married couple filing jointly, plus $ 1,400 per dependent. People earning up to $ 75,000 would get the full amount, as would married couples earning up to $ 150,000.

The size of the check would decrease for those earning a little more, with a firm limit of $ 80,000 for individuals and $ 160,000 for married couples.

Biden estimates that 85% of Americans will be eligible for the payment. Certain groups that were not eligible for previous payments, such as dependent students and adults with disabilities, are now eligible.

Authorities said some checks could arrive as early as this weekend.

“It means the mortgage can be paid. This means the child can stay in community college. It means keeping the health insurance you have, ”Biden said. “It’s going to make a big difference in so many lives in this country. “

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday the administration was doing everything in its power to expedite payments. As such, the treasury strives to obtain more payments to taxpayers through direct deposit. The agency will be able to send direct deposit payments to those who have their information on file for 2019 or 2020 tax returns or who have provided it through other programs.

Biden’s signature will not appear on the checks, a move his predecessor made that was criticized as a delay in making payments.

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Expanded federal unemployment benefits will be extended through September 6 to $ 300 per week. This is in addition to the state’s unemployment insurance program payments.

Despite a modest recovery, millions of Americans remain unemployed. The plan would also expand two key pandemic programs, which benefit an estimated 11.8 million Americans.

The first $ 10,200 in unemployment benefits would be tax-free for households with incomes below $ 150,000, but only for benefits starting in 2020. The IRS will need to issue guidelines on how to put this into effect. practice.

In addition, the measures provide for a 100% subsidy of COBRA’s health insurance premiums to ensure that laid-off workers can continue to benefit from their employer’s health plans free of charge from April 1 to the end of September.

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The package also contains a number of valuable tax breaks. One of the most notable is the increase in the tax credit that taxpayers can claim for dependent children.

Under current law, most taxpayers can reduce their federal income tax bill by up to $ 2,000 per child. The bill will now increase the tax relief to $ 3,000 for each child aged 6 to 17 and to $ 3,600 for each child under the age of 6.

Families would get full credit, no matter how little they earn in a year.

The goal is to return the money, which is a down payment on the tax credit, in smaller monthly payments instead of a larger lump sum.

It is still unclear exactly when this money will arrive. If the Treasury determines that a monthly payment is not possible, payments should be made as frequently as possible.

Elaine Maag, senior research associate at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, said monthly payments could start as early as July, but if the government opts for quarterly payments, it could take until it falls.

Add in the $ 1,400 checks and other elements of the proposal, and the legislation would more than halve the number of children living in poverty, according to Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy.

The bill also significantly expands the earned income tax credit for 2021 by making it accessible to people without children. The credit for low and moderate income adults would be worth $ 543 to $ 1,502, depending on income and deposit status.

The benefit of the EITC would not be felt until taxpayers file their returns for the 2021 tax year, which would typically be early 2022.

The plan does not include student loan forgiveness, but it does allow any income from student loan forgiveness to be tax-exempt from 2021 to 2025.

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