Controlling the pandemic, economic stimulus at the top of Biden’s to-do list
What will a Biden administration mean for the American business community? The most pressing concern for President-elect Joe Biden will be addressing the pandemic, according to a summary of issues by NBC News.
Biden has called for enacting a national mask mandate, leveraging the Defense Production Act to dramatically ramp up production of COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment, and creating a U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps to mobilize at least 100,000 unemployed Americans to fight the virus. He said he would call for Congress to appropriate more funding for vaccine research and distribution to make sure everyone has access to a vaccine.
This morning, Biden announced the leadership of his 13-member coronavirus task force — the first public step in what aides say will be a focus on confronting the pandemic that has claimed almost a quarter of a million American lives, the New York Times reported.
The former vice president’s promise to “build back better” encompasses sweeping programs and reforms designed to charge the economy and address problems such as health care and racial inequality, according to NBC News.
The pandemic-driven economic crisis is also a focus. Biden wants another massive stimulus package, including more unemployment assistance and direct stimulus. In the longer term, he wants bills like the union-backed Protecting the Right to Organize Act, as well as government assistance to help revitalize manufacturing and new infrastructure investments.
Regarding taxes, Biden has proposed a series of tax increases totaling about $4 trillion, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, to finance his various new programs. Those include raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and restoring the 39.6% individual rate for the highest incomes. Biden repeatedly promised during the campaign not to raise taxes on any American making less than $400,000.
The president-elect is a staunch defender of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. He has said the law, which passed while he was vice president, should not be thrown out but improved upon. He resisted calls within his party to throw the entire system out and enact universal health care. He has backed a “public option” to compete with private insurers in the marketplaces.
Biden will likely review U.S. trade policy, which is currently characterized by tariffs on global imports — on steel and aluminum from most of the world, on wine and cheese from Europe, and on nearly three-quarters of everything the U.S. buys from China, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Although Biden hasn’t detailed his specific plans, aides and advisers say he is expected to review those levies. And like President Donald Trump, he will largely be able to act without the need for congressional support.