Politics Janet Yellen Warns on Cutting Stimulus as Democrats Plan Vast Jobs, Infrastructure Package
Congress has already approved $4 trillion in Covid relief. Here's what's happened to it.
Congress has authorized nearly $4 trillion in spending over the past year to help address the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but only about $3 trillion of it has been spent. © Shutterstock Roughly a third of that money went directly to struggling families through stimulus checks, expanded unemployment payments and food stamps. That leaves about $1 trillion that hasn't been disbursed yet, even as President Joe Biden is calling on Congress to approve another $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package.
Treasury Secretaryon Thursday defended the size of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package in the face of healthier than expected economic growth.
Her comments came as reports emerged that discussions are underway in the White House about putting together another larger economic stimulus package, which could amount to $3 trillion, according to The Washington Post.
Joe Manchin Facing Pressure From West Virginia Officials Over COVID-19 Stimulus
Manchin has said he will support President Joe Biden's proposed stimulus package if it has bipartisan approval.Leaders in the city of Bluefield are considering writing to Manchin and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) in support of the $350 billion the stimulus bill will set aside to help states and municipal governments.
Speaking to Sara Eisen on CNBC's Closing Bill, Yellen dismissed the suggestion that an unexpectedly strong start to 2021, with retail jumping 5.6 percent according to the Commerce Department, meant the size of the stimulus package was unnecessary.
"We think it's very important to have a big package [that] addresses the pain this has caused – 15 million Americans behind on their rent, 24 million adults and 12 million children who don't have enough to eat, small businesses failing," she said.
"I think the price of doing too little is much higher than the price of doing something big. We think that the benefits will far outweigh the costs in the longer run."
Yellen addressed fears that the stimulus package could lead to inflation.
UCLA Gymnast, Whose Floor Routine to Janet Jackson's Hits Went Viral, Tears Up During Call with Icon
"It just inspired me to want to do more, and do better and be stronger," Janet Jackson said while FaceTiming with UCLA gymnast Margzetta Frazier had a phone call to remember with Janet Jackson. © Provided by People Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images; Kyusung Gong/AP/Shutterstock Janet Jackson, Margzetta Frazier On Friday, shortly after the college athlete debuted a new floor routine set to some of Jackson's biggest hits, she received a call from the music icon herself. "I just want to say thank you. Thank you for sharing your talent. It's so beautiful to see you tumble.
"Inflation has been very low for over a decade, and you know it's a risk, but it's a risk that the Federal Reserve and others have tools to address," she said.
"The greater risk is of scarring the people, having this pandemic take a permanent lifelong toll on their lives and livelihoods."
Despite other positive economic indicators, such as the Atlanta Federal Reserve's GDPNow tracker pointing to growth of 9.5 percent in the first quarter, around 10 million Americans remain out of work.
In part to help these people, and others who are still working but struggling, Presidenthopes to send $1,400 checks out to millions of Americans as part of the COVID-relief proposals.
"You know, there's so much pain in this economy," Yellen said. "I think these checks really will provide relief and they'll help jump-start our economy, giving people money to spend when we can get out again and go back to our former lives.
Yellen: $1,400 stimulus payments would help people in 'pockets of misery'
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Monday defended President Biden's proposal to send $1,400 direct payments to the vast majority of Americans, saying they will help people who are struggling but aren't receiving more targeted forms of assistance."That really helps to make sure that pockets of misery that we know exist out there that aren't touched by more targeted things, that help is provided there as well," Yellen said at a virtual event hosted by The New York Times. "I believe we're going to be better off for it, and that it's the right thing to do," she added.The House is expected to vote this week on a $1.
"So you know, there're a lot of families that are operating on the margin. And I think these checks will really help them."
Seniorare meanwhile discussing a second new package that could total as much as $3 trillion in spending, per the Post, with a focus on creating jobs and delivering new infrastructure across the U.S.
Biden discussed the possible second raft of spending, along with the current COVID-relief bill, at a White House meeting with union bosses on Wednesday.
"We are so far behind the curve," he said at the meeting. "We rank like 38th in the world in terms of infrastructure, everything from canals to highways to airports, to everything we can do and we need to do to make ourselves competitive in the 21st Century."
White House Press Secretarysaid on Wednesday that Biden's plan "will make historic investments in infrastructure—in the auto industry, in transit, in the power sector—creating millions of good union jobs, and in the process, also addressing the climate crisis head-on."
It's unclear when the package will be officially unveiled. Any spending approved byin the COVID-relief package, and any second package, will be in addition to the $4 trillion in stimulus spending under former president .
Stimulus Package Will Test Limit of Progressive Power As Senate Fight Looms
A rise in the federal minimum wage is a key goal for progressives, but is proving contentious with Republicans who question how it could impact businesses. "It was the No. 1 priority for progressives," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, according to the Associated Press.Democrats have a slender majority in both chambers of Congress. In the House, the majority is 10 and there is not likely to be enough opposition to block the package there.The situation is trickier in the Senate.
The Congressional Budget Office projects a $2.3 trillion budget deficit in the fiscal year of 2021 even before all the additional stimulus spending.
Stimulus bill: When will Congress pass Covid relief? .
The major order of business for President Joe Biden and Congress is to pass a $1.9 trillion Covid relief package before the round of unemployment benefits and other aid approved in December lapse, again leaving millions of Americans short of help. © Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images The Capitol is seen on a cold winter evening in Washington, DC, on February 18, 2021. What's riding on this negotiation is the $1,400 stimulus checks proposed by Biden even before he took office, as well as that extra federal unemployment money. Democrats have said they will get a bill signed by mid-March.