Economist, unemployed say Biden stimulus package a good step in the right direction

ATLANTA — Thursday night, President-elect Joe Biden announced his economic plan to help combat the devastation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic that would send the largest amount of cash yet into taxpayers’ bank accounts.

The biggest feature is an additional $1,400 stimulus check. For many who say the $600 checks simply did not go far enough, those larger payments can’t arrive too soon.

“I’m a single person, so the only income coming into my household is mine,” said Chelsea Nelson of Cobb County.

She told Channel 2′s Justin Wilfon that she lost her job in August.

“I’ve been doing what I can to get by, but living on unemployment is not something I ever saw myself having to live through,” Nelson said.

Now, for Nelson and other Georgians suffering during the pandemic, Biden promises that help is on the way. The $1.9 trillion plan calls for the largest stimulus checks yet for many Americans.

“There are people worse off than me, but $1,400, I can make that go a long way,” Nelson said.

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The checks are in addition to the recent $600 checks bringing the total amount to $2,000 in relief.

Wilfon went to Atlanta economist K.C. Conway for his reaction to the plan.

“I don’t view this as a big kind of giveaway. The $600, even as the outgoing president mentioned, he was not a fan of the bill that was passed by the House and the Senate. It didn’t go far enough,” Conway said.

Along with the additional $1,400 stimulus checks, Conway said the proposal also will help families in other ways, such as increasing the child tax credit to $3,000 per child and up to $3,600 for each child under the age of six.

“I think it’s a good connecting of the dots and I’m a fiscal conservative kind of guy,” Conway said. “You’ve got to be able to give families a helping hand here. It’s fair to ask though, where does all this money come from? Those same kids that mom and dad are getting the credit for are going to be paying for it for a long time. We have a massive fiscal deficit problem. There is a day of reckoning and a payment.”

Biden’s plan also calls for $350 billion in aid for state and local governments, extending the eviction moratorium through September and increasing federal unemployment benefits to $400 a month through September.

That’s something else that will help people like Nelson make it through.

“It would certainly help me get through to a new job because I’m very hopeful that I’ll have something in the next few months,” she said.

With Democrats soon to control both the House and Senate, this package, or something similar, seems likely to pass, but there is one thing in the plan that Republicans may take issue with: the longtime Democratic dream of increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“That’s the hot button that’s probably going to inflame and polarize people,” Conway said. “Does a small business that’s trying to get open, can they afford to pay the 15 dollars?”

It’s a question that will be debated when the bill goes to Congress.