Biden’s policies on the economy

The president-elect’s economic agenda must prop up a buckling U.S. economy long enough for the coronavirus pandemic to wane.

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(Photos by Justin Lane/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock, Michael S. Williamson and Salwan Georges/The Washington Post, and Eve Edelheit for The Washington Post)

President-elect Joe Biden will inherit a U.S. shaky economic recovery that’s showing new signs of buckling amid the escalating coronavirus pandemic.

With more than 10 million people unemployed, the economy is at risk of sliding more deeply into an already devastating recession or it could be on the precipice of expanding into a healthy recovery.

Much of the fate of the economic turnaround will depend on the new administration’s ability to commandeer and control the raging public health crisis from its current record levels of infections. U.S. spending cannot resume in a significant way until Americans feel safe enough to spend money, especially in sectors that depend on face-to-face contact, such as travel, restaurants and hospitality.

Just as critical will be Biden’s economic policy agenda and the degree to which stronger stimulus and spending programs are implemented to prop up the U.S. economy to prevent a catastrophic collapse before the pandemic begins to wane.

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    Overview
    Former vice president Joe Biden tours the factory floor at the Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry in Manitowoc, Wis., on Sept. 21 during his presidential campaign. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)
    Former vice president Joe Biden tours the factory floor at the Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry in Manitowoc, Wis., on Sept. 21 during his presidential campaign. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)

    Biden to begin term pushing emergency relief, other ambitious economic plans

    By Jeff Stein and Erica Werner

    President-elect Joe Biden will arrive in Washington with an ambitious economic agenda topped with plans to prod Congress to pass a multitrillion-dollar coronavirus relief bill aimed at stabilizing the teetering economy and stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

    Growth
    Signs calling for more economic relief are displayed near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 5 as part of a campaign by Goldman Sachs to support small businesses. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
    Signs calling for more economic relief are displayed near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 5 as part of a campaign by Goldman Sachs to support small businesses. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

    To succeed, Biden must create more jobs than any president in recent history

    By Heather Long

    President-elect Joe Biden will inherit a weak recovery. Growth is expected to pick up quickly as coronavirus vaccines are widely distributed, but getting 10 million people back to work is likely to take longer.

    Taxes
    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul package, is pictured after President Trump signed it into law at the White House on Dec. 22, 2017. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul package, is pictured after President Trump signed it into law at the White House on Dec. 22, 2017. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

    Democratic Senate control gives Biden freer hand in pursuing tax agenda

    By Yeganeh Torbati

    Joe Biden ran for president on a campaign of raising taxes on the wealthy, corporations and estates, expanding tax credits for modest earners, and exempting individual taxpayers making less than $400,000 from tax increases. Biden wants to use the extra money to pay for a far-reaching domestic agenda, with new spending on health care, infrastructure, low-income schools and initiatives to combat climate change.

    Trade
    Cargo shipping container cranes stand above a container ship on Dec. 14 at the Port of Long Beach in Long Beach, Calif. The bridge's higher clearance accommodates larger cargo ships, linking the international and domestic shipping of goods and materials at the port complex. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images)
    Cargo shipping container cranes stand above a container ship on Dec. 14 at the Port of Long Beach in Long Beach, Calif. The bridge's higher clearance accommodates larger cargo ships, linking the international and domestic shipping of goods and materials at the port complex. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images)

    Biden aims for new course on trade, in break with Trump, Democratic predecessors

    By David J. Lynch

    President-elect Joe Biden will confront the same question that has bedeviled U.S. policymakers for three decades: How can the United States shape for maximum benefit its overseas commercial engagements?

    Employment
    Unionized hospitality workers wait in line on March 13 in a basement garage to apply for unemployment benefits at the Hospitality Training Academy in Los Angeles. Coronavirus restrictions in California have put millions of people out of work, increasing the state's unemployment rate to levels not seen since the Great Depression. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)
    Unionized hospitality workers wait in line on March 13 in a basement garage to apply for unemployment benefits at the Hospitality Training Academy in Los Angeles. Coronavirus restrictions in California have put millions of people out of work, increasing the state's unemployment rate to levels not seen since the Great Depression. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

    Biden will inherit the most challenging labor market in decades

    By Eli Rosenberg

    President-elect Joe Biden will inherit one of the most challenging labor markets in decades, with millions of Americans jobless as the coronavirus pandemic continues to weigh on the economic recovery.

    Jeff Stein is the White House economics reporter for The Washington Post. He was a crime reporter for the Syracuse Post-Standard and, in 2014, founded the local news nonprofit the Ithaca Voice in Upstate New York. He was also a reporter for Vox.
    Erica Werner has worked at The Washington Post since 2017, covering Congress with a focus on economic policy. Previously, she worked at the Associated Press for more than 17 years.
    Heather Long is an economics correspondent. Before joining The Washington Post, she was a senior economics reporter at CNN and a columnist and deputy editor at the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. She also worked at an investment firm in London.
    Yeganeh Torbati joined The Washington Post in 2020 as a reporter investigating the tax, budget, trade and regulatory decisions made by Washington’s power brokers. She previously covered the federal government for ProPublica, and she wrote about immigration, national security and Iran for Reuters.
    David J. Lynch is a staff writer on the financial desk who joined The Washington Post in November 2017 after working for the Financial Times, Bloomberg News and USA Today.
    Eli Rosenberg covers work and labor for The Washington Post. He joined The Post in 2017 after a decade in New York, where he worked at the New York Times, the Daily News, and the Brooklyn Paper. He has covered misinformation campaigns, politics in the Trump era, immigration issues, and disasters across the country.
    About this story

    Editing by Jennifer Liberto. Design and development by Tyler Remmel. Additional development by Lucio Villa and Junne Alcantara. Design editing by Greg Manifold and Virginia Singarayar. Photo editing by Annaliese Nurnberg. Copy editing by Carrie Camillo. Operations by Shefali S. Kulkarni.