Biden Opens Stimulus Road Show in Pennsylvania to Rebut GOP Attacks
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden visited voters in the key swing state of Pennsylvania on Tuesday as part of an effort to persuade Americans that the $1.9 trillion relief measure he signed will help struggling individuals and businesses.
The first stop on Biden’s trip will be Chester, just south of Philadelphia, to highlight the law’s nearly $56 billion for small businesses.
The White House wants to underscore to Americans that the legislation Biden championed -- and was only supported by Democrats -- is central to jump-starting an economy battered by a year of lockdowns and job losses set off by the coronavirus. Biden is seeking to counter Republicans’ message that the measure was too costly and an excuse to fund liberal priorities.
At Smith Flooring Inc., a business which has received two loans from the Paycheck Protection Program created by last year’s stimulus laws, Biden said money from the new law would go where it’s needed most and thanked Democratic members of Congress from Pennsylvania for voting for it.
“They have been a loud and strong voice getting this done,” he said. “It’s not like it passed with 100 votes, you know what I mean? It was close.”
Vice President Kamala Harris began traveling the country on Monday to sell the rescue plan, making her first stop in Nevada. Biden and Harris will cap the week in Georgia to pitch the measure. Nevada, Georgia and Pennsylvania are all key presidential battleground states and also have Senate races in 2022.
Harris said at an empanada restaurant in Denver on Tuesday that small businesses had been “devastated by this pandemic.”
“Our small businesses are really part of the heartbeat of every community,” she said, citing $28 billion in Biden’s stimulus specifically for restaurants, bars and similar businesses. “We want to make sure that you can stay open.”
The administration has emphasized a need for immediate action -- quickly getting money into wallets and getting vaccines into arms.
Biden said on Monday that his administration will soon have overseen the delivery of 100 million vaccine shots as well as 100 million relief payments. “Shots in arms and money in pockets,” as he put it.
Biden recalled earlier this month that he’d pushed then-President Barack Obama to be more aggressive in promoting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act after it became law in 2009 but that Obama was “too modest” about the accomplishment.
“I kept saying, ‘Tell people what we did.’ He kept saying, ‘We don’t have time, we’re not going to take a victory lap,’” Biden said. “And we paid a price for it, ironically, for that humility.”
The new law’s provisions -- including direct checks of up to $1,400 per person and child tax credits, as well as funding to expand Covid-19 vaccination efforts and boost school reopening efforts -- have been winning the support of two-thirds of Americans in polls.
“What the president recognizes from his own experience is that when it’s a package of this size, you know, people don’t always know how they benefit and what it means for them,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday. “He believes the American people deserve every high-level person from our administration out there explaining, discussing, taking input.”
Biden on Monday announced that Gene Sperling, a former White House economic adviser to Obama and President Bill Clinton, will oversee the administration’s distribution of relief money.
“I learned from my experience implementing the Recovery Act just how important it is to have someone who can manage all the moving parts with efficiency, speed and integrity and accountability,” Biden said.
Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff will echo Biden’s focus on Tuesday as they meet with small business owners in Denver.
First lady Jill Biden, a teacher, visited a school in New Jersey on Monday, and plans to do the same in New Hampshire on Wednesday, to draw attention to the bill’s education funding.
On Friday, Biden and Harris will travel to Georgia, where the promise of additional stimulus checks helped Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff win their U.S. Senate runoff elections in January. Their visit will “underscore how they and congressional Democrats fulfilled their promise in delivering $1,400 checks to finish the job of $2,000 in direct relief to millions of Americans,” Psaki said Monday.
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