Biden's push for stimulus package
Senior executives from more than 150 companies are voicing support for President Joe Biden’s US$1.9 trillion stimulus package in a letter to congressional leaders urging them to pass coronavirus relief.
The letter is signed by leaders across industries, including David Solomon, chairman and chief executive officer at Goldman Sachs; Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and CEO of Blackstone; Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google; and John Stankey the CEO of AT&T.
“We write to urge immediate and large-scale federal legislation to address the health and economic crises brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the executives wrote in the letter, first reported by CNN.
“Congress should act swiftly and on a bipartisan basis to authorize a stimulus and relief package along the lines of the Biden-Harris administration’s proposed American Rescue Plan.”
The letter’s signatories included several past supporters of former President Donald Trump, including Schwarzman, one of the biggest contributors to Trump’s re-election bid from the world of high finance, and New York real estate magnate Richard LeFrak.
Biden’s bill includes a range of spending measures, including for distributing vaccines, reopening schools, support for state and local governments and the direct payments that the president promised during the campaign season.
Democrats are moving forward with the bill despite not having much support from Republicans, who have called the measure too expensive and unnecessarily broad.
Utah Senator Mitt Romney wrote in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal that Biden’s proposal was “a clunker” that would “enact policies that work against job creation.”
And Senator Rob Portman of Ohio wrote in the Washington Post Tuesday that the stimulus bill showed “disappointing” partisanship and had come together with “no consultation” from Republicans.
But the business leaders said the Biden plan offered needed support to combat the pandemic.
“Strengthening the public health response to coronavirus is the first step toward economic restoration,” the executives wrote. “The American Rescue Plan mobilizes a national vaccination program, delivers economic relief to struggling families, and supports communities that were most damaged by the pandemic.”
On Tuesday, the Business Roundtable also urged lawmakers to pass a stimulus package that includes money for vaccinations, opening schools, expanded unemployment benefits and support for small business, but urged it not include an increase in the federal minimum wage.
A proposal to increase the minimum wage to US$15 has proved a contentious part of the stimulus package, with at least two Democratic senators saying they oppose it.
“We believe these issues would be better debated in future legislation so as not to delay urgent resources for the public health response and economic recovery,” the business group said.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri on Wednesday unveiled an alternative wage-increase proposal that would use federal money to boost low-earning workers’ income.