Biden's COVID-19 relief bill includes $300B in unrelated spending, analysis shows

Biden tells governors minimum wage hike unlikely to pass

Despite Democrats’ push for $15 minimum wage, Biden says hike not likely to happen. Former Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee and FreedomWorks economist Steve Moore with insight.

House Democrats are on track to pass President Biden's nearly $2 trillion coronavirus relief package by the end of the week as Congress races to provide a fresh round of aid to families and businesses still reeling from the pandemic.

The measure includes a third $1,400 stimulus check for Americans earning less than $75,000, increases supplemental unemployment benefits by $400 a week through the end of August, allocates $50 billion toward helping small businesses and gives $350 billion for state and local governments.

But deficit-weary Republicans have criticized the size and scope of the legislation, arguing the aid should be better targeted to those who need it the most and slamming Democrats for including certain provisions such as a $15 minimum wage hike, citing a report released by the Congressional Budget Office at the beginning of January shows the U.S. economy is poised for a strong recovery, even without another round of emergency aid.

The nation's deficit totaled a record $3.1 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year, and the national debt is on track to hit $28 trillion.

WHAT'S IN BIDEN'S $1.9T STIMULUS PLAN?

One analysis by the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget found that more than 15% of the proposed package — about $300 billion — will go toward long-standing policy priorities that are "not directly related to the current crisis." Roughly 1% of the spending will go toward accelerating vaccine distribution, and just 5% is focused on public health needs, according to the nonpartisan group.

“The goal of COVID relief is to end the pandemic, protect incomes, and support the economic recovery," said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. "The House bill not only spends far more than is needed to achieve these goals, but also puts too many of these plentiful dollars in the wrong places."

Some of the most expensive aspects of the bill include $422 billion for the latest round of cash payments and $350 billion for state and local governments — which MacGuineas described as "poorly targeted."

STIMULUS CHECKS AND YOUR 2020 TAXES: ALL OF YOUR QUESTIONS, ANSWERED

"Nearly half of the package will be spent on poorly targeted rebate checks and state and local government aid, including to households and governments that have experienced little or no financial loss during this crisis," she said.

New research published by Opportunity Insights, a nonpartisan policy institute based at Harvard University, laid out evidence that the money would be most effective at boosting the U.S. economy if it targeted lower-income Americans.

The economists found that when the government sent out $600 checks as part of the $900 billion relief package Congress approved in December, spending among households making less than $46,000 rose 7.9% from Jan. 6 to Jan. 19 compared to the year-ago period.

THIRD STIMULUS CHECK: WHY SOME AMERICANS SHOULD FILE THEIR TAXES ASAP FOR A BIGGER PAYMENT

By comparison, spending inched up just 0.2% for households making more than $78,000.

The $1.9 trillion bill now moves to the House Rules Committee, then to the House floor later this week, where Democrats will use a procedural tool known as budget reconciliation to muscle through the legislation without any Republican buy-ins.

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