President Biden on Friday defended the size of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, pushing back on GOP attacks as he argued for the bill’s urgency and arguing that, if passed, the economy would create 7 million jobs this year.
“What would they have me cut?” Biden asked, speaking at Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine manufacturing facility in Kalamazoo, Mich. “Should we not invest $20 billion to vaccinate the nation? Should we not invest $290 million to extend unemployment insurance for the 11 million Americans who are unemployed so they can get by while they get back to work?”
Biden ran through a litany of other items the package would address, while highlighting the myriad ways Americans have suffered in the pandemic. There were tens of thousands of small businesses that have had to close permanently, he said. Schools needed money to reopen safely, and 11 million children do not have enough food to eat. One in 5 Americans are behind in their rent; 1 in 10 are behind in their mortgage, he added.
Biden asked people to picture the scenes from the news, of long lines of cars at food banks, waiting just to receive a box of food. He argued that if Congress did not pass his American Rescue Plan, 40 million Americans would lose nutritional assistance through the federal SNAP program.
“People never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever thought they would need help. And through no fault of their own, they’re in that circumstance,” Biden said. “ … How many people do you know will go to bed tonight staring at the ceiling saying, ‘God, what is going to happen if I don’t get my job? If I don’t have my unemployment check? What’s happened to me? I’m losing my health insurance. What do I do?’ This is the United States of America, for God’s sake. We invest in people who are in need.”
Biden said he was still open to hearing ideas from the Senate and House on how to improve the relief package or make it cheaper.
“We have to make clear who is helped and who is hurt,” he said. “And my hope is that the Republicans in Congress listen to their constituents.”
Biden’s figure of 7 million jobs being created by the coronavirus relief package relates to an analysis from Moody’s Analytics. Its economists had evaluated a range of Biden’s proposals vs. Trump’s programs before the 2020 election and noted that a Biden win would produce 7.4 million more jobs.