BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — President-elect Joe Biden announced his $1.9 trillion economic stimulus plan last week.
A priority in that plan is addressing the COVID-19 pandemic by expediting vaccinations and testing.
A $20 billion national program would establish community vaccination centers across the U.S. and send mobile units to remote communities. Medicaid patients would have their costs covered by the federal government, and the administration says it will take steps to ensure all people in the U.S. can receive the vaccine for free, regardless of their immigration status.
An additional $50 billion would expand testing efforts and help schools and governments implement routine testing. Other efforts would focus on developing better treatments for COVID-19 and improving efforts to identify and track new strains of the virus.
“We are now going to have a president that is focused on this pandemic and taken very seriously COVID and the effects it has on this nation,” said Lashunda Scales, president pro-tem of the Jefferson County Commission.
The hefty spending isn’t seen as a good thing by all. Republican Paul DeMarco, a former state lawmaker said there needs to be more detail in this approach.
“Just throwing money is not going to work as opposed to a targeted approach,” said DeMarco.
The United States’ debt stands at $27 trillion and counting. CBS 42’s political analyst Steve Flowers said the spending is needed to help the country.
“It’s not good long term, but short term, something has got to be done,” said Flowers.
Biden’s American Rescue Plan also outlines a $15 billion grant program for small businesses; separate from the paycheck protection program. Scales said she looks forward to money coming in to help hurting businesses.
“I’m looking forward to resources coming into our state that won’t be delayed or denied,” said Scales.
DeMarco said more government control and interference won’t help businesses get back on their feet.
“Pre-pandemic we had some of the lowest unemployment numbers, we had a great economy going in Alabama,” said DeMarco. “This should be the time to be partnering and working with businesses and getting out of the way so businesses can operate and hire people. Not adding more regulations, taxes, and fees.”
The Biden administration is also calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. To read more about his economic stimulus plan, click here.
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