Following is a statement by Amy Hanauer, executive director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, regarding President Biden’s inauguration.
“Today, we pause to recognize President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’s historic victory. Tomorrow, we get to work.
“President Biden has consistently vowed to lead by putting the needs of ordinary people first. It’s time to back bold, progressive policy changes that tackle the COVID-19 health crisis, create jobs, address the climate crisis, advance racial equity, empower workers, reduce economic inequality—and increase taxes for the rich and corporations.
“Prior to COVID-19, two-thirds of households didn’t have six weeks’ worth of expenses to cover an unexpected job loss. A severe recession was bound to throw many families over the ledge. Now we face high unemployment, rising poverty, and devastating levels of COVID deaths.
“President Biden is right to confront this head-on. The economic relief package that he released last week provides basic building blocks for a healthier and more inclusive economy. It addresses economic needs with direct cash payments and expansions to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. These three provisions combined would increase income this year for the poorest 20 percent by about a third, on average. The plan also boosts unemployment insurance, raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and provides crucial help to state and local governments.
“There will be calls for austerity from politicians who were happy to incur debt to pay for tax cuts but now want to deny necessary aid. Fortunately, both economic experience and public opinion support paying to help with job loss, housing, and economic aid. The risk right now is not spending too much, it’s doing too little. If we don’t get this pandemic under control and keep families afloat, the economic downturn will deepen and take longer to resolve.
“The greatest reforms and advances in U.S. history worked because workers, activists, advocates and people imagined a better future and compelled leaders to deliver it. When President Biden introduces policies that live up to his campaign promises, he will have strong public support. The public is hungry for fundamental policy change that instills balance and fairness in a system currently structured to deepen inequality. We are ready for change, and we stand with allies working to build an inclusive America.”