In emotional, forthright remarks today, President Biden noted the millions of Americans waiting in long lines at food banks, unable to afford to buy food to feed their kids, the millions losing jobs, the 900,000 who have filed for unemployment insurance this week alone. Defiantly, he added:
We cannot, will not let people go hungry. We cannot let people be evicted because of nothing they did themselves. They cannot watch people lose their jobs. And we have to act. We have to act now.
Biden noted the importance of not allowing people to suffer grievous economic damage from events they did not cause and cannot change.
On his second full day in office, President Joe Biden issued executive orders setting up an all-of-government strategy for limiting economic fallout from COVID-19 and related containment measures. According to the White House fact sheet, that all-of-government effort will:
- Address the growing hunger crisis facing 29 million Americans — and as many as 12 million children – by asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider expanding and extending federal nutrition assistance programs.
- Ensure equitable and effective delivery of direct payments — by asking the Treasury Department to consider changing its delivery structure and focus on getting relief to the 8 million Americans who still have not received the financial assistance to which they are entitled.
- Help approximately 2 million veterans maintain their financial footing by asking the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to consider pausing federal collections on overpayments and debts.
- Help ensure that unemployed Americans no longer have to choose between paying their bills and keeping themselves and their families safe from COVID-19 by asking the U.S. Department of Labor to consider clarifying that workers who refuse unsafe working conditions can still receive unemployment insurance.
- Enable effective and equitable distribution of government assistance by establishing an interagency benefit coordination structure.
Brian Deese, Director of the National Economic Council, said that without major additional economic relief, “we risk falling into a very serious economic hole, even more serious than the crisis we find ourselves.”