Joe Biden said the US economy would return to ‘booming’ if Congress approves its $ 1.9 billion fiscal stimulus package, as it pledges to provide widespread coronavirus vaccinations and a recovery stronger in the second half of the year.
Speaking on Tuesday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the president said Covid-19 vaccines would be accessible to all Americans who wanted one by the end of July, with 600 million doses delivered by then.
Along with the prospect of an improved public health response, Biden said the world’s largest economy would need a government spending shake to accelerate its rebound. The president’s priority is to obtain the approval of lawmakers for his recovery plan but he faces opposition from Republicans on Capitol Hill who think the price is excessive.
“[The] overwhelming consensus [is] grow the economy. . . we cannot spend too much. Now is the time we should be spending, ”Biden said. “Depending on who you talk to, between six months and a year and a half, we can come back. We can come back roaring.
At the marked event which marked his first official trip outside Washington since his inauguration last month. Biden has said he wants to avoid talking about his predecessor Donald Trump. Saturday Trump was acquitted in a Senate impeachment lawsuit for inciting a riot on the U.S. Capitol.
“For four years, all that made the headlines was ‘Trump’. The next four years, I want to make sure all the news is about the American people, ”Biden said, declining to say if he would support a criminal investigation as Trump in the riot.
“I won’t tell my Justice Department. . . who they should and should not sue. ”
In presenting his stimulus package, Biden cited polls to suggest it was very popular among the public, in an effort to pressure lawmakers to support the bill.
“The nation is not divided. You go over there and watch, you talk to people. You have bangs at both ends, but it’s not as split as we claim it is, ”Biden said. “And we have to bring it together.”
The president faced a challenge to his economic plan from a Trump voter and co-owner of a carpentry company, who feared the administration was pushing to include an increase in the federal minimum wage from $ 7.25 to $ 15 an hour would hurt small businesses.
Many Republicans are opposed to the hike with some moderate Democrats, who have urged the White House to drop it or reduce the increase in legislation. Biden said he would give companies time to adjust.
“It’s about doing it gradually,” Biden said. “No one should be working 40 hours a week and living in poverty.”
The president also rejected an audience member’s call to forgive up to $ 50,000 in student loans per person, which is defended by many progressive lawmakers. His response sparked a backlash from fellow Democrats, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who criticized Biden’s position on Twitter.
He was also on the defensive on his approach to reopening of schools. Biden was forced to clarify that his goal was to have a “significant percentage” of K-8 children in school five days a week – rather than just one – by the end of his first 100 days in power.
After promising that all Americans would have access to vaccines by the end of July, the president was cautiously optimistic that the country could return to pre-pandemic levels within a year.
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“I think there will be a lot less people who have to be socially distant, wear a mask,” Biden said. “I don’t want to promise anything too much here. I told you when I ran for office and when I am elected, I will always be at the same level as you.
Foreign policy barely featured at the town hall meeting, but Biden took a look at China for its human rights record.
“China is trying very hard to become the world leader, and to get this nickname and be able to do it, it has to gain the trust of other countries,” he said. “And as long as they engage in activities that violate basic human rights, it will be difficult for them to do so.”
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