One of the first orders of business for incoming President Joe Biden will be rescuing the economy, battered from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The health of our nation is at stake,” Biden said.
Biden is pitching a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. It includes more direct payments and enhanced unemployment aid, among other measures.
“Without further action, we risk a longer, more painful recession now – and longer-term scarring of the economy later,” said Janet Yellen, former chair of the Federal Reserve and Treasury Secretary nominee.
But some economists say economic recovery can't begin until the coronavirus is under control.
“The most important of the Biden plan is to accelerate the vaccinations, to make sure we get the money into our public health system so that we can actually beat this virus,” said James Angel, associate professor of finance at Georgetown University.
At the forefront of Biden’s plan is $160 billion in funding for a national vaccine program. But he’ll need approval from Congress, at a time when members face another urgent matter: a second impeachment trial. And the nearly $2 trillion price tag is also giving cause for concern, and what it could mean for government debt.
“We can’t print money forever. This will come back to haunt us. We will have to pay, plus interest,” Angel said.
Despite those worries, some economists have revised their growth forecasts upward, after Biden announced the plan. Goldman Sachs estimates that unemployment will fall to 4.5% by the end of the year.