Rescue plan will enable US to outcompete rest of the world, especially China – Biden
US President Joe Biden, on Saturday, said he was happy about the Senate passage of his American Rescue Plan (1.9 trillion dollars). He said it would reinvigorate the US economy and put it in a potion to outcompete the rest of the world, especially China. “This plan puts us on the path to beating the virus. This plan gives those families who are struggling the most the help and the breathing room they need to get through this moment. This plan gives small businesses in this country a fighting chance to survive.”
Excerpts of President Biden’s speech:
For over a year, the American people were told they were on their own. They were seeing — we’ve seen how hard that has been on so many Americans. As of last night, 519,064 lives lost to the virus. That many empty chairs this morning — the breakfast table — gone. More than four hundred [thousand] small businesses closed unnecessarily. Millions of people out of work through no fault of their own. I want to emphasize that: through no fault of their own. Food bank lines stretching for miles. Did any of you ever you’d see that in America, in cities all across this country? Families facing the threat of eviction.
This nation has suffered too much for much too long. And everything in this package is designed to relieve the suffering and to meet the most urgent needs of the nation and put us in a better position to prevail, starting with beating this virus and vaccinating the country.
The resources in this plan will be used to expand and speed up manufacturing and distribution of vaccines so we can get every single American vaccinated sooner than later. I believe by — we’ll have enough by the end of — by the middle of May to vaccinate. It’s going to take longer to take longer to get it in their arm, but that’s how much vaccine we’ll have.
Because of all the funding, we’ll be able to hire more vaccinators, set up more vaccination sites to get the country in a place to get back to normal. This plan will get checks out the door, starting this month, to the American people who so desperately need the help, many of whom are lying in bed at night, staring at the ceiling, wondering, “Will I lose my job, if I haven’t already? Will I lose my insurance? Will I lose my home?”
Over 85 percent of American households will get direct payments of $1,400 per person. For a typical middle-class family of four — husband and wife working, making $100,000 a year total, with three kids — they’ll get $5,600 — I mean, with two kids — will get $5,600, and it’ll be on the way soon.
That means the mortgage can get paid. That means the child can stay in community college. That means maintaining the health insurance you have. It’s going to make a big difference in so many of lives in this country.
Unemployment benefits will be extended for 11 million Americans who have lost their jobs and who, last night, again were lying in bed, just thinking, “My lord, I’m going to lose my unemployment insurance in a week or so.” It was about to expire.
Schools are going to have the resources they need to open safely. States and local governments that have lost tens of thousands of essential workers will be — have the resources they need available to them, to those laid-off police officers, firefighters, teachers, and nurses they can rehire. These are essential personnel.
Look, the American Rescue Plan lowers healthcare premiums. Food and nutrition assistance. It’s hard to believe that 24 million adults and 11 million children, as I speak, in the United States suffer from food insecurity. That means, simply, they don’t have enough food to eat. Did you ever imagine in the United States of America, you’d see lines, literally miles long — kids — folks in their automobiles, waiting for a box of food to be put in their trunk. I stood in line, handing out food. The people coming up never, ever, ever thought they’d be in that position.
This helps families who are behind on their rent and their mortgage payments so they aren’t thrown out of their homes.
Look, the bottom line is this: This plan puts us on the path to beating the virus. This plan gives those families who are struggling the most the help and the breathing room they need to get through this moment. This plan gives small businesses in this country a fighting chance to survive.
And one more thing: This plan is historic. Taken altogether, this plan is going to make it possible to cut child poverty in half. Let me say that again — it’s significant, historic: It will cut child poverty in half.
There’s much more to this bill, but, for now, let me make one final point. When I was elected, I said we were going to get the government out of the business of battling on Twitter and back in the business of delivering for the American people, of making a difference in their lives, giving everyone a chance — a fighting chance, of showing the American people that their government can work for them. And passing the American Rescue Plan will do that.
And, you know, it may sound strange, but a lot of senators and congressmen I want to thank, but I really want to thank the American people for making all of this possible. You say, “Well, how do they make it possible?” Well, quite frankly, without the overwhelming bipartisan support of the American people, this would not have happened. Your elected officials heard you. Overwhelming public support — every public opinion poll shows overwhelming support for this plan. And for the last weeks, it’s shown that. Every public opinion poll shows the people want this, they believe it’s needed, and they believe it’s urgent.
And now this bill returns to the House of Representatives, which has done a great job from the beginning, where I hope it will find quick passage so it can be sent to my desk to be signed into law.
By passing the American Rescue Plan, we’ll have heeded the voice of the American people, not ignored their voices. By passing this plan, we will have delivered real, tangible results for the American people and their families, and they’ll be able to see and know and feel the change in their own lives. And by passing this plan, we’ll have proved that this government, this democracy can still work. What has to be done — it’ll improve people’s lives.
And one more thing: The vast majority of economists — left, right, and center — from Wall Street to the — to the private — private economic polling initiatives — the economists — as I’ve said, left, right, and center — say, “In addition to the needs the people have, we need this to grow the economy.” That if we haven’t spent this money and recreated the kind of incentive for people to be able to make a good living, that we’d be in real trouble.
This will create millions of new jobs — it’s estimated over 6 million new jobs by itself; increase the Gross Domestic Product by a trillion dollars; put our nation in a position to out-compete the rest of the world — because the rest of the world is moving, particularly China; and to know that as tough as this moment is, there are brighter days ahead. There really are.
As I’ve said before, it’s never a good bet to bet against America. It’s never been a good bet to bet against the American people. We are America. We’re going to get there. We’re going to remain the leading economy in the world and going to be the most successful economy in the world because of you, the American people.
Thank you, and God bless you all. May God protect our troops.
Veteran singer and musician Professor Sanath Nandasiri passed away at the age of 81
Veteran singer and musician Professor Sanath Nandasiri has passed away at the age of 81
Overtime gravy train for public sector back
Govt. MPs make contradictory statements on state of economy
By Shamindra Ferdinando
UNP National List MP Wajira Abeywardena on Sunday (26) disclosed the issuance of a circular by the Finance Ministry to restore overtime and other payments in the public sector.
The declaration was made in Galle soon after Transport and Media Minister Bandula Gunawardane lamented that the government was short of billions of rupees to pay public sector salaries, pensions, Samurdhi payments and meet recurrent expenditure.
Minister Gunawardena and UNP National List MP Abeywardena addressed the local media after the handing over of several buses to the Galle SLTB depot.
Cabinet Spokesman Gunawardena said that the government needed as much as Rs 196 bn before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and its projected revenue was Rs 173 bn. In addition to that Rs 500 mn was required to settle what Minister Gunawardena called bilateral debt.
Minister Gunawardane said that a part of the first tranche of USD 333 mn from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be utilised to pay public sector salaries.
Of the USD 333 mn received so far, USD 121 had been used to pay the first installment of USD 1 bn credit line secured from India early last year, according to State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya.
Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera in the second week of August last year revealed as much as Rs 3 bn had been paid as overtime to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) workers for several months. This disclosure was made in response to a query raised by Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella.
One of the major demands of the public sector trade unions on the warpath over the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government’s new tax formula is the restoration of overtime.
Now, Opposition wants Finance Secy. hauled up before Privileges Committee
Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday (27) urged Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to act speedily on the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) request to summon Finance Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena before the parliamentary Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
Addressing the media on behalf of the Freedom People’s Alliance, the former External Affairs Minister said that the Treasury Secretary had challenged the parliament by withholding funds allocated in the budget 2023 to the Election Commission thereby sabotaging the election.
Prof. Peiris said that there couldn’t be a far worse violation of parliamentary privileges than a government official undermining Parliament.
Instead of appreciating the intervention made by the Supreme Court to facilitate the delayed Local Government polls, the ruling party had sought to challenge the apex court, Prof. Peiris said, urging Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to fulfill his obligations.
Prof. Pieris said that if the government lacked funds, just one percent of USS 333 mn received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was sufficient to conduct the election.
The ex-minister said that the IMF wouldn’t oppose the utilisation of a fraction of the first tranche of USD 2.9 bn loan facility provided over a period of four years to guarantee the constitutional rights of the Sri Lankan electorate. (SF)
Veteran singer and musician Professor Sanath Nandasiri passed away at the age of 81
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