Biden says 'moral obligation' to act on stimulus now

Biden campaigned last year on a promise to take the pandemic more seriously than President Donald Trump, and the package aims to put that pledge into action with an influx of resources for the coronavirus response and economic recovery.

The aid package includes $415 billion to bolster the response to the virus and the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, some $1 trillion in direct relief to households, and roughly $440 billion for small businesses and communities particularly hard hit by the pandemic.

Stimulus payment checks would be issued for $1,400 - topping up the $600 checks issued under the last congressional stimulus legislation. Supplemental unemployment insurance would also increase to $400 a week from $300 a week now and would be extended to September.

Biden's plan is meant to kick off his time in office with a large bill that sets his short-term agenda into motion quickly: helping the economy and getting a handle on a virus that has killed more than 385,000 people in the United States as of Thursday.

Video Transcript

JOE BIDEN: We're going to focus on small businesses on Main Street. We'll focus on minority owned small businesses, women owned small businesses, and finally having equal access to the resources they need to reopen and to rebuild.

Our plan to reduce poverty in the Black community by one third, to reduce poverty in the Hispanic community by almost 40%, and includes much more, like an increase in the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour. People tell me that's going to be hard to pass. Florida just passed it, as divided as that state is, they just passed it. The rest of the country is ready to move as well, should be a national minimum wage of $15 an hour. No one working 40 hours a week should live below the poverty line.

Now I know what I just described does not come cheaply, but failure to do so will cost us dearly. The consensus among leading economists is we simply cannot afford not to do what I'm proposing.

As I said in the campaign trail, we will pay for it by making sure that everyone pays their fair share. Not punishing anybody. We can do it without punishing a single person. By closing tax loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas or that allow American companies-- 90 of them in the top Fortune 500-- to pay zero in federal income taxes. Asking everyone to pay their fair share at the top so we can make permanent investments to rescue and rebuild America. It's the right thing for our economy. It's the fair thing. It's the decent thing to do. We not only have an economic imperative to act now. I believe we have a moral obligation.