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    Biden, Champion of Middle Class, Comes to Aid the Poor

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }Biden’s Stimulus PlanWhat to Know About the BillSenate PassageWhat the Senate Changed$15 Minimum WageChild Tax CreditAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyWith Relief Plan, Biden Takes on a New Role: Crusader for the PoorPresident Biden’s new role as a crusader for Americans in poverty is an evolution for a politician who has focused on the working class and his Senate work on the judiciary and foreign relations.President Biden at a round-table discussion on the American Rescue Plan this month. The House passed the measure on Wednesday and cleared it for his signature.Credit…Al Drago for The New York TimesMichael D. Shear, Carl Hulse and March 11, 2021, 3:00 a.m. ETWASHINGTON — Days before his inauguration, President-elect Biden was eying a $1.3 trillion rescue plan aimed squarely at the middle class he has always championed, but pared down to attract some Republican support.In a private conversation, Senator Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat who is now the majority leader, echoed others in the party and urged Mr. Biden to think bigger. True, the coronavirus pandemic had disrupted the lives of those in the middle, but it had also plunged millions of people into poverty. With Democrats in control, the new president should push for something closer to $2 trillion, Mr. Schumer told Mr. Biden.On Friday, “Scranton Joe” Biden, whose five-decade political identity has been largely shaped by his appeal to union workers and blue-collar tradesmen like those from his Pennsylvania hometown, will sign into law a $1.9 trillion spending plan that includes the biggest antipoverty effort in a generation.The new role as a crusader for the poor represents an evolution for Mr. Biden, who spent much of his 36 years in Congress concentrating on foreign policy, judicial fights, gun control and criminal justice issues by virtue of his committee chairmanships in the Senate. For the most part, he ceded domestic economic policy to others.But aides say he has embraced his new role. Mr. Biden has done so in part by following progressives in his party to the left and accepting the encouragement of his inner circle to use Democratic power to make sweeping rather than incremental change. He has also been moved by the inequities in pain and suffering that the pandemic has inflicted on the poorest Americans, aides say.“We all grow,” said Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 House Democrat, whose endorsement in the primaries was crucial to Mr. Biden winning the presidency. “During the campaign, he recognized what was happening in this country, this pandemic. It is not like anything we have had in 100 years. If you are going to address Covid-19’s impact, you have to address the economic disparities that exist in this country.”A vast share of the money approved by Congress will benefit the lowest-income Americans, including tax credits and direct checks, of which nearly half will be delivered to people who are unemployed, below the poverty line or barely making enough to feed and shelter their families. Billions of dollars will be used to extend benefits for the unemployed. Child tax credits will largely benefit the poorest Americans.“Millions of people out of work through no fault of their own,” the president said moments after the relief act passed the Senate over the weekend. “I want to emphasize that: through no fault of their own. Food bank lines stretching for miles. Did any of you ever think you’d see that in America, in cities all across this country?”Mr. Biden touring a food bank in Houston last month. “Food bank lines stretching for miles,” he said after the relief act passed the Senate over the weekend. “Did any of you ever think you’d see that in America, in cities all across this country?”Credit…Doug Mills/The New York TimesThe president’s closest advisers insist that the far-reaching antipoverty effort — a core tenet of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party — is less of an ideological shift from Mr. Biden’s middle-class roots than it is a response to the moment he finds himself in: presiding over a historic health crisis that has vastly increased the number of poor Americans.They are quick to note that the president’s American Rescue Plan also directs enormous sums of money to middle-income people who have jobs but are struggling. Working families making up to $150,000 will receive direct payments, help for child care and expanded child tax credits that will bolster their annual incomes during the pandemic.Mr. Biden is planning a public relations blitz across the country during the next several weeks to promote the benefits of the relief package and his role in pushing it through Congress. His campaign will begin on Thursday with a prime-time address from the Oval Office for the first anniversary of the Covid restrictions imposed by President Donald J. Trump.After that, aides say Mr. Biden will travel to communities that benefit from the provisions of the new law, in part to build the case for making some of the temporary measures a permanent part of the social safety net.Congressional Democrats are also determined to make sure the public understands what is in the new bill. In a letter sent on Tuesday to his colleagues, Mr. Schumer said that “we cannot be shy in telling the American people how this historic legislation directly helps them.”Among the lessons Democrats say they have learned from the political backlash in 2010 to their handling of the economic crisis in 2009 is that they were not aggressive enough in selling the benefits of their stimulus package to voters a decade ago. It is not a mistake they intend to make again.Even as Mr. Biden’s stimulus victory lap will be embraced by the left, he remains in the cautious middle so far on foreign policy, easing off on punishing the crown prince of Saudi Arabia for ordering the killing of a Washington Post journalist and imposing only modest sanctions on Russia for the poisoning and jailing of Aleksei A. Navalny, the opposition leader there.Mr. Biden’s former Senate colleagues also acknowledge that historically he was never a driver of liberal economic policy.Once a 29-year-old Senate candidate who pushed for civil rights and opposed the Vietnam War, Mr. Biden later drifted toward the middle, adapting to the political moment in 1996 by backing a bipartisan welfare overhaul supported by President Bill Clinton but opposed by many liberals who saw it as punitive and politically driven. Mr. Biden is now embracing a sweeping expansion of the welfare state with a price tag that is just under half of what the entire federal government spent in 2019.“He has gotten in front of it and put his stamp on it,” said Rahm Emanuel, the former Chicago mayor and former White House chief of staff..css-yoay6m{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-yoay6m{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-1dg6kl4{margin-top:5px;margin-bottom:15px;}.css-k59gj9{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;width:100%;}.css-1e2usoh{font-family:inherit;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;border-top:1px solid #ccc;padding:10px 0px 10px 0px;background-color:#fff;}.css-1jz6h6z{font-family:inherit;font-weight:bold;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.5rem;text-align:left;}.css-1t412wb{box-sizing:border-box;margin:8px 15px 0px 15px;cursor:pointer;}.css-hhzar2{-webkit-transition:-webkit-transform ease 0.5s;-webkit-transition:transform ease 0.5s;transition:transform ease 0.5s;}.css-t54hv4{-webkit-transform:rotate(180deg);-ms-transform:rotate(180deg);transform:rotate(180deg);}.css-1r2j9qz{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-e1ipqs{font-size:1rem;line-height:1.5rem;padding:0px 30px 0px 0px;}.css-e1ipqs a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;}.css-e1ipqs a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-1o76pdf{visibility:show;height:100%;padding-bottom:20px;}.css-1sw9s96{visibility:hidden;height:0px;}#masthead-bar-one{display:none;}#masthead-bar-one{display:none;}.css-1cz6wm{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;font-family:’nyt-franklin’,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;text-align:left;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1cz6wm{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-1cz6wm:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1cz6wm{border:none;padding:20px 0 0;border-top:1px solid #121212;}Frequently Asked Questions About the New Stimulus PackageThe stimulus payments would be $1,400 for most recipients. Those who are eligible would also receive an identical payment for each of their children. To qualify for the full $1,400, a single person would need an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below. For heads of household, adjusted gross income would need to be $112,500 or below, and for married couples filing jointly that number would need to be $150,000 or below. To be eligible for a payment, a person must have a Social Security number. Read more. Buying insurance through the government program known as COBRA would temporarily become a lot cheaper. COBRA, for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, generally lets someone who loses a job buy coverage via the former employer. But it’s expensive: Under normal circumstances, a person may have to pay at least 102 percent of the cost of the premium. Under the relief bill, the government would pay the entire COBRA premium from April 1 through Sept. 30. A person who qualified for new, employer-based health insurance someplace else before Sept. 30 would lose eligibility for the no-cost coverage. And someone who left a job voluntarily would not be eligible, either. Read moreThis credit, which helps working families offset the cost of care for children under 13 and other dependents, would be significantly expanded for a single year. More people would be eligible, and many recipients would get a bigger break. The bill would also make the credit fully refundable, which means you could collect the money as a refund even if your tax bill was zero. “That will be helpful to people at the lower end” of the income scale, said Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. Read more.There would be a big one for people who already have debt. You wouldn’t have to pay income taxes on forgiven debt if you qualify for loan forgiveness or cancellation — for example, if you’ve been in an income-driven repayment plan for the requisite number of years, if your school defrauded you or if Congress or the president wipes away $10,000 of debt for large numbers of people. This would be the case for debt forgiven between Jan. 1, 2021, and the end of 2025. Read more.The bill would provide billions of dollars in rental and utility assistance to people who are struggling and in danger of being evicted from their homes. About $27 billion would go toward emergency rental assistance. The vast majority of it would replenish the so-called Coronavirus Relief Fund, created by the CARES Act and distributed through state, local and tribal governments, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. That’s on top of the $25 billion in assistance provided by the relief package passed in December. To receive financial assistance — which could be used for rent, utilities and other housing expenses — households would have to meet several conditions. Household income could not exceed 80 percent of the area median income, at least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability, and individuals would have to qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship (directly or indirectly) because of the pandemic. Assistance could be provided for up to 18 months, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Lower-income families that have been unemployed for three months or more would be given priority for assistance. Read more.Tom Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader and a longtime colleague of Mr. Biden’s, acknowledged that the president — who was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1987 to 1995 and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2001 to 2003 — was not a leader in those years on economic policy. But he said it was natural that Mr. Biden would aggressively tackle it now, given conditions in the country.“Times have changed,” Mr. Daschle said, noting that “economic and racial disparities have become more acute, more understood and more important in recent years.” He pointed to the new $3,000 child tax credit, a temporary benefit included in the package, and compared its transformational potential to the Medicare program enacted under President Lyndon B. Johnson should it become permanent.“If or when it does,” Mr. Daschle said, “Joe Biden will be seen as the L.B.J. for low-income families in dramatically improving their economic circumstances.”Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, at a news conference last week. “We cannot be shy in telling the American people how this historic legislation directly helps them,” he wrote in a letter sent on Tuesday to colleagues.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York TimesDuring the presidential campaign, Mr. Biden spoke about “rebuilding the backbone of the nation,” a phrase that sometimes appeared to include a promise to provide significant help for people at the bottom of the economic ladder.“Ending poverty won’t be just an aspiration, but a way to build a new economy,” he said in 2019, as he campaigned for the Democratic nomination. Once in the Oval Office, Mr. Biden hung a picture of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and invoked the Depression-era president in his private conversations with lawmakers.The plight of the middle class has long animated Mr. Biden. He lamented their fortunes when he ran for president in 1988, during the Reagan era, and was often a lonely voice for the same constituency while serving as vice president, when he was President Barack Obama’s de facto liaison to organized labor.To that end, Mr. Biden has also emphasized the parts of the relief package dedicated to making life easier for the working- and middle-class voters he has always courted.“For a typical middle-class family of four — husband and wife working, making $100,000 a year total with two kids — will get $5,600, and it’ll be on the way soon,” Mr. Biden told reporters on Saturday.But for now, his path forward is clear. Even though Mr. Biden listened politely last month when a group of Senate Republicans visited the Oval Office and pitched him on a smaller compromise deal on the relief package, he held fast to the ambitious proposal put forth by congressional Democrats. In his first major act as president, Mr. Biden leveraged the pandemic to fulfill some of the left’s longstanding goals.Representative Pete Aguilar of California, a member of the Democratic leadership, announced at a news conference on Tuesday that the relief law “represents the boldest action taken on behalf of the American people since the Great Depression.” And Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the fourth-ranking House Democrat, praised the president.“Joe Biden has been clear that we have to go big at a moment like this,” he said.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    Biden Plans Messaging Blitz to Sell Economic Aid Plan

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }Biden’s Stimulus PlanWhat to Know About the BillSenate PassageWhat the Senate Changed$15 Minimum WageChild Tax CreditAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyBiden Plans Messaging Blitz to Sell Economic Aid PlanDrawing on a lesson from early in the Obama administration, the White House wants to tell voters how the legislation will help them and keep Republicans from defining it on their terms.President Biden, joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, answered questions from reporters on Saturday after the Senate vote to approve a $1.9 trillion relief package.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York TimesJim Tankersley and March 10, 2021Updated 7:23 p.m. ETWASHINGTON — President Biden is planning an aggressive campaign to tell voters about the benefits for them in the $1.9 trillion economic relief package that won final congressional approval on Wednesday, an attempt to ensure that he and his fellow Democrats get full political credit for the first big victory of his administration.The effort will start with Mr. Biden’s scheduled prime-time address to the nation on Thursday and include travel by the president and Vice President Kamala Harris across multiple states, events with a wide range of cabinet members emphasizing themes of the legislation and endorsements from Republican mayors, administration officials said on Wednesday.The White House’s decision to get out and sell the package after its passage reflects a lesson from the early months of the Obama administration. In 2009, fighting to help the economy recover from a crippling financial crisis, President Barack Obama never succeeded in building durable popular support for a similar stimulus bill and allowed Republicans to define it on their terms, fueling a partisan backlash and the rise of the Tea Party movement.Mr. Biden starts with the advantage that the legislation, which he is set to sign on Friday, is widely popular in national polling. And it will deliver a series of tangible benefits to low- and middle-income Americans, including direct payments of $1,400 per individual, just as the economy’s halting recovery from the pandemic recession is poised to accelerate.Speaking briefly to reporters on Wednesday, the president called the legislation “a historic, historic victory for the American people.”After his address from the Oval Office on Thursday night, Mr. Biden will headline a public relations effort over several weeks that aides say will involve his entire cabinet and White House communications officials, and support from like-minded business and policy organizations and political supporters at all levels around the country. The White House announced on Wednesday that Mr. Biden would visit the Philadelphia suburbs next week.Unlike President Donald J. Trump, who loved to serve at times as a singular pitchman for the economic policies under his administration, Mr. Biden will lead an all-hands effort.It is a striking contrast to the strategy pursued by the Obama administration, when Mr. Biden was vice president. Mr. Obama’s first major legislative victory was a nearly $800 billion stimulus bill that passed with the backing of a majority of voters, but it lost support over time.Mr. Biden was still trying to sell voters on the benefits of that plan in 2016, near the end of his time as vice president. He told congressional Democrats this month that the administration had “paid a price” for failing to better market the bill early on.Mr. Obama struggled in part because the economy was still contracting when his plan passed, and its rollout was overshadowed by an arduously slow recovery from recession. “President Obama gave speech after speech” to sell his stimulus plan, Dan Pfeiffer, who was a White House communications director under Mr. Obama, wrote this week. “He visited factory after factory that had reopened because of the Recovery Act. But it was nearly impossible to break through the avalanche of bad news.”The circumstances appear to be different this year. Democrats are buoyed by polls that show Mr. Biden’s relief package winning as much as three-quarters support from voters nationwide, including large swaths of Republicans, even after a month of attacks from congressional Republicans who voted in unison against its passage in both the House and the Senate.More than 7 in 10 Americans backed Mr. Biden’s aid package as of last month, according to polling from the online research firm SurveyMonkey for The New York Times. That includes support from three-quarters of independent voters, 2 in 5 Republicans and nearly all Democrats. A poll released on Tuesday by the Pew Research Center found similar support.Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Biden’s main message would echo his campaign theme: “Help is on the way.”Credit…Doug Mills/The New York TimesThe Biden team also appears to have economic circumstances working in its favor. Job growth accelerated in February, Mr. Biden’s first full month in office. Forecasters expect economic growth to speed up even more in the months to come because of the increasingly widespread deployment of Covid-19 vaccines across the country, which should allow consumers to start spending more on activities like traveling or dining out, which many have cut back on over the past year because of the pandemic.Forecasters expect the relief package to further fuel growth, in part by shuttling money to low- and middle-income Americans who disproportionately lost jobs and incomes in the crisis. The O.E.C.D. predicted this week that the Biden plan would help the United States economy grow at a 6.5 percent rate this year, which would be its fastest annual clip since the early 1980s.The timing of the bill could bolster Mr. Biden’s attempts to claim credit for that rebound, even though forecasters were projecting a return to growth — albeit a smaller one than they now predict — before he took office. Mr. Trump did something similar in 2017: Growth had slowed in early 2016, but it had begun to improve in the second half of that year, before Mr. Trump won the White House. Yet he persistently claimed he had engineered the greatest economy in American history.Still, Biden administration officials are mindful that political opposition could easily fester and grow if they do not clearly explain the contents — and direct benefits — of a bill that will be the second-largest economic aid package in American history, trailing only the initial bill that lawmakers approved under Mr. Trump last year as the worsening pandemic pushed the nation into recession. .css-yoay6m{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-yoay6m{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-1dg6kl4{margin-top:5px;margin-bottom:15px;}.css-k59gj9{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;width:100%;}.css-1e2usoh{font-family:inherit;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;border-top:1px solid #ccc;padding:10px 0px 10px 0px;background-color:#fff;}.css-1jz6h6z{font-family:inherit;font-weight:bold;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.5rem;text-align:left;}.css-1t412wb{box-sizing:border-box;margin:8px 15px 0px 15px;cursor:pointer;}.css-hhzar2{-webkit-transition:-webkit-transform ease 0.5s;-webkit-transition:transform ease 0.5s;transition:transform ease 0.5s;}.css-t54hv4{-webkit-transform:rotate(180deg);-ms-transform:rotate(180deg);transform:rotate(180deg);}.css-1r2j9qz{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-e1ipqs{font-size:1rem;line-height:1.5rem;padding:0px 30px 0px 0px;}.css-e1ipqs a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;}.css-e1ipqs a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-1o76pdf{visibility:show;height:100%;padding-bottom:20px;}.css-1sw9s96{visibility:hidden;height:0px;}#masthead-bar-one{display:none;}#masthead-bar-one{display:none;}.css-1cz6wm{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;font-family:’nyt-franklin’,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;text-align:left;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1cz6wm{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-1cz6wm:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1cz6wm{border:none;padding:20px 0 0;border-top:1px solid #121212;}Frequently Asked Questions About the New Stimulus PackageThe stimulus payments would be $1,400 for most recipients. Those who are eligible would also receive an identical payment for each of their children. To qualify for the full $1,400, a single person would need an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below. For heads of household, adjusted gross income would need to be $112,500 or below, and for married couples filing jointly that number would need to be $150,000 or below. To be eligible for a payment, a person must have a Social Security number. Read more. Buying insurance through the government program known as COBRA would temporarily become a lot cheaper. COBRA, for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, generally lets someone who loses a job buy coverage via the former employer. But it’s expensive: Under normal circumstances, a person may have to pay at least 102 percent of the cost of the premium. Under the relief bill, the government would pay the entire COBRA premium from April 1 through Sept. 30. A person who qualified for new, employer-based health insurance someplace else before Sept. 30 would lose eligibility for the no-cost coverage. And someone who left a job voluntarily would not be eligible, either. Read moreThis credit, which helps working families offset the cost of care for children under 13 and other dependents, would be significantly expanded for a single year. More people would be eligible, and many recipients would get a bigger break. The bill would also make the credit fully refundable, which means you could collect the money as a refund even if your tax bill was zero. “That will be helpful to people at the lower end” of the income scale, said Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. Read more.There would be a big one for people who already have debt. You wouldn’t have to pay income taxes on forgiven debt if you qualify for loan forgiveness or cancellation — for example, if you’ve been in an income-driven repayment plan for the requisite number of years, if your school defrauded you or if Congress or the president wipes away $10,000 of debt for large numbers of people. This would be the case for debt forgiven between Jan. 1, 2021, and the end of 2025. Read more.The bill would provide billions of dollars in rental and utility assistance to people who are struggling and in danger of being evicted from their homes. About $27 billion would go toward emergency rental assistance. The vast majority of it would replenish the so-called Coronavirus Relief Fund, created by the CARES Act and distributed through state, local and tribal governments, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. That’s on top of the $25 billion in assistance provided by the relief package passed in December. To receive financial assistance — which could be used for rent, utilities and other housing expenses — households would have to meet several conditions. Household income could not exceed 80 percent of the area median income, at least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability, and individuals would have to qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship (directly or indirectly) because of the pandemic. Assistance could be provided for up to 18 months, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Lower-income families that have been unemployed for three months or more would be given priority for assistance. Read more.Republicans continued to attack the bill on the House floor on Wednesday, casting it as overly expensive, ineffectively targeted and bloated with longstanding liberal priorities unrelated to the pandemic.“Because Democrats chose to prioritize their political ambitions instead of the working class,” Representative Jason Smith of Missouri, the top Republican on the Budget Committee, said in a news release, “they just passed the wrong plan, at the wrong time, for all the wrong reasons.”Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, one of the few Democrats in the chamber to represent a state Mr. Biden lost to Mr. Trump in 2020, called the Republican attacks “lies” and said they showed why Democrats needed to remind voters of the benefits to people and businesses included in the bill.“You’ve got to sell it, because they’re going to lie about everything,” Mr. Brown said. “The sale is an easy sell, but you need to continue to remind” voters about the contents of the package, he said.With that in mind, Mr. Biden is scheduled to follow his speech on Thursday with travel to states led by both Democratic and Republican governors in the coming weeks to begin the sales pitch. Among the options being considered, if they can be done safely during the pandemic, are town-hall-style events that allow the president to directly take questions from people.The main message, according to Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, will be an echo of one of Mr. Biden’s chief campaign promises: “Help is on the way.”The president’s political and communications advisers have identified 10 themes that they want to tackle, one by one, in the days and weeks ahead. They include food insecurity, child poverty, bolstering rural health care, school reopening, help for veterans and help for small businesses.“We’ll be emphasizing a number of components that are in the package and really having a conversation,” Ms. Psaki said. “This is important to the president personally, having a conversation directly with people about how they can benefit, addressing questions they have, even taking their feedback on implementation.”AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    To Juice the Economy, Biden Bets on the Poor

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Jobs CrisisCurrent Unemployment RateWhen the Checks Run OutThe Economy in 9 ChartsThe First 6 MonthsAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storynews analysisTo Juice the Economy, Biden Bets on the PoorMr. Biden’s bottom-up $1.9 trillion aid package is a sharp reversal from the tax cut bill that was President Donald J. Trump’s first big legislative victory.Volunteers distributing food on Monday in Warren, Mich. President Biden’s economic relief plan overwhelmingly helps low earners and the middle class and is more focused on people than on businesses.Credit…Elaine Cromie for The New York TimesPublished More

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    Biden Looks to a Consensus Builder to Heal a Democratic Rift on Trade

    AdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyBiden Looks to a Consensus Builder to Heal a Democratic Rift on TradeKatherine Tai, the Biden administration’s nominee for trade representative, will set the course for the Democrats’ worker-focused approach to trade.Katherine Tai, President Biden’s nominee for U.S. trade representative, will testify before the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday.Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York TimesFeb. 24, 2021Updated 6:24 p.m. ETWASHINGTON — The negotiations lasted late into the evening, leaving some members of Congress shouting and pounding the table in frustration as they fought over what would be included in the revised North American Free Trade Agreement.Katherine Tai, the chief trade counsel to the House’s powerful Ways and Means Committee, appeared unflappable to those in the room as she helped to hammer out compromises that would ultimately bring Democrats on board in late 2019 to support the 2,082-page trade pact negotiated by the Trump administration, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.In negotiations throughout 2019, Ms. Tai calmly helped to assemble an unlikely coalition to support the trade deal, ultimately mollifying the concerns of both business lobbyists and labor unions, forging ties between Democrats and Republicans, and helping to persuade Mexican officials to accept strict new oversight of their factories, her former colleagues say.“Katherine was the glue that held us together,” said Representative Suzanne Bonamici, an Oregon Democrat who played a leading role in the negotiations. “If you end up with a product that has support from the A.F.L.-C.I.O. to the Chamber of Commerce, that is an unusual feat.”The Biden administration is now pinning its hopes on Ms. Tai, its nominee for United States trade representative, to serve as a consensus builder and help bridge the Democratic Party’s varying views on trade. Ms. Tai is scheduled to appear for her confirmation hearing on Thursday morning before the Senate Finance Committee.Ms. Tai has strong connections in Congress, and supporters expect her nomination to proceed smoothly. But if confirmed, she will face bigger challenges, including filling in the details of what the Biden administration has called its “worker focused” trade approach.As trade representative, Ms. Tai would be a key player in restoring alliances strained under President Donald J. Trump. She would also be crucial to formulating the administration’s China policy, an area in which she would be expected to draw on her experience bringing cases against Beijing at the World Trade Organization.She would also take charge on decisions on matters that divide the Democratic Party, like whether to keep the tariffs Mr. Trump imposed on foreign products, and whether new foreign trade deals will help the United States compete globally or end up selling American workers short.In a statement prepared for the Finance Committee, Ms. Tai wrote that her “first priority” would be helping American communities emerge from the pandemic and economic crisis, followed by an effort to enforce the terms of the U.S.M.C.A., rebuild international alliances and address China’s unfair trade practices.“I know firsthand how critically important it is that we have a strategic and coherent plan for holding China accountable to its promises and effectively competing with its model of state-directed economics,” her prepared testimony read.Both the Biden administration and members of Congress see finding consensus on trade issues as paramount, given the deep divisions that dogged Democrats in the past.During President Barack Obama’s administration, the trade representative sparred with labor unions and many Democratic lawmakers over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade pact between countries along the Pacific Rim.Mr. Obama and his supporters saw the agreement as key to countering China. But progressive Democrats believed the pact would send more U.S. jobs offshore and fought the administration on its passage. Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from the deal, and the remaining countries in the pact went on to sign it without the United States.The New WashingtonLatest UpdatesUpdated Feb. 24, 2021, 5:50 p.m. ET‘It was like the old days.’ Biden hails bipartisan spirit after meeting with lawmakers on supply chains.An awkward exchange by top Republicans at the Capitol illustrates their post-Trump reality.Virginia Republicans will pick their nominee for governor at a drive-through convention in May.Democrats “spent a lot of time drilling down on what happened,” said Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who supported the agreement.“I really felt that it was important post-TPP to make sure that the trade conversation started and stopped with how the typical American worker and the typical American consumer would be affected,” he said.What resulted, he said, was the approach in the revised North American trade deal — higher labor standards, tighter environmental regulation and new mechanisms to ensure that the rules of trade agreements can be enforced — which Democrats now describe as the bedrock of their new approach to trade.“Katherine was very much involved in all of those discussions,” Mr. Wyden said. “She’s a real coalition builder. And that was particularly important to me, because of the whole TPP period.”The Port of Oakland in California. If confirmed, Ms. Tai will make decisions on matters that divide the Democratic Party, like whether new foreign trade deals will help the United States compete globally.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York TimesSenator Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat who opposed the Pacific trade deal and then worked with Mr. Wyden on the new North American pact’s rules for workers, said the Democratic Party had coalesced around this new policy of strong and enforceable trade rules.“That is a new policy for a Democratic administration, for sure,” he said. “But it’s because the Democratic Party en masse, that’s where we are.”Mr. Brown has fought with presidents of his own party about trade in the past, “including some not very nice exchanges,” he said. “I’ve fought with their trade representatives, and this is absolutely a different era.”“You will have trade policy that will actually work for workers,” he said.The Biden administration has gone to great lengths to cement its ties with congressional Democrats who are influential on trade. In addition to Ms. Tai’s nomination, it has recruited key staff members for the trade representative’s office from both Mr. Wyden’s and Mr. Brown’s offices. It has also hired former employees of Democratic representatives like Suzan DelBene of Washington, Jimmy Gomez of California and John Lewis of Georgia.But that does not mean Mr. Biden’s trade policy will be without dispute. Despite strong ties to congressional Democrats and labor unions, the administration will still have to balance the concerns of other factions, like big tech companies that are important donors and foreign policy experts who see freer trade as a way to shore up America’s position in the multilateral system. Those positions could be difficult to reconcile, trade experts say.Some have also questioned how much influence Ms. Tai might have on matters like China and tariffs, given that she is a relative newcomer to the administration. Mr. Biden has appointed several old contacts to his foreign policy team who have worked closely with him for years, including Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken; Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser; and Kurt Campbell, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia.But Ms. Tai’s supporters say she will probably be an influential voice on trade given her deep expertise and understanding of trade policy. If confirmed, Ms. Tai would be the first Asian-American and woman of color to serve as the U.S. trade representative. Ms. Tai’s parents were born in China and moved to Taiwan before immigrating to the United States, where they worked as government scientists.Ms. Tai, who was born in Connecticut, speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese and lived and worked in China as a teaching fellow in the late 1990s. She received a B.A. from Yale and a law degree from Harvard, and went on to work as an associate for several Washington law firms and a clerk for two district judges.From 2007 to 2014, Ms. Tai worked for the Office of the United States Trade Representative, where she successfully prosecuted several cases on Chinese trade practices at the World Trade Organization, including a challenge to China’s curbs on exports of rare earth minerals.When she was hired, the office was in the middle of trying to parse a particular Chinese legal measure and gave it to Ms. Tai to translate as part of her interview, said Claire Reade, a former assistant trade representative for China affairs who is now a senior counsel at Arnold & Porter. “We got a second expert opinion free of charge,” she said.In the Obama administration, and in her work negotiating a consensus on the North American trade deal, Ms. Tai displayed a range of skills that will help her succeed as the trade representative, Ms. Reade said — leadership and initiative, the political and diplomatic skills to navigate the interagency process of government, a good instinct for reading people and a wide grasp of complex trade matters.“She really in her work has gone through hellfire and has come out the other side — which means, as I say, she’s not to be underestimated,” Ms. Reade said.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    Democrats to Unveil Up to $3,600 Child Tax Credit as Part of Stimulus Bill

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Coronavirus OutbreakliveLatest UpdatesMaps and CasesSee Your Local RiskVaccine InformationCalifornia Anti-Vaccine ProtestsAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyDemocrats to Unveil Up to $3,600 Child Tax Credit as Part of Stimulus BillThe credit would send monthly payments to millions of Americans under certain income thresholds for a year starting in July.“This money is going to be the difference in a roof over someone’s head or food on their table,” said Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York TimesEmily Cochrane and Feb. 7, 2021, 5:20 p.m. ETWASHINGTON —  Top House Democrats are preparing to unveil legislation that would send up to $3,600 per child to millions of Americans, as lawmakers aim to change the tax code to target child poverty rates as part of President Biden’s sweeping $1.9 trillion stimulus package.The proposal would expand the child tax credit to provide $3,600 per child younger than 6 and $3,000 per child up to 17 over the course of a year, phasing out the payments for Americans who make more than $75,000 and couples who make more than $150,000. The draft 22-page provision, reported earlier by The Washington Post and obtained by The New York Times, is expected to be formally introduced on Monday as lawmakers race to fill out the contours of Mr. Biden’s stimulus plan.“The pandemic is driving families deeper and deeper into poverty, and it’s devastating,” said Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and one of the champions of the provision. “This money is going to be the difference in a roof over someone’s head or food on their table. This is how the tax code is supposed to work for those who need it most.”The credits would be split into monthly payments from the Internal Revenue Service beginning in July, based on a person’s or family’s income in 2020. Although the proposed credit is only for a year, some Democrats said they would fight to make it permanent, a sweeping move that could reshape efforts to fight child poverty in America.The one-year credit appears likely to garner enough support to be included in the stimulus package, but it will also have to clear a series of tough parliamentary hurdles because of the procedural maneuvers Democrats are using to muscle the stimulus package through, potentially without Republican support.With House Democratic leadership aiming to have the stimulus legislation approved on the chamber floor by the end of the month, Congress moved last week to fast-track Mr. Biden’s stimulus plan even as details of the legislation are still being worked out. Buoyed by support from Democrats in both chambers and a lackluster January jobs report, Mr. Biden has warned that he plans to move ahead with his plan whether or not Republicans support it.Republicans, who have accused Mr. Biden of abandoning promises of bipartisanship and raised concerns about the nation’s debt, have largely balked at his plan because of its size and scope after Congress approved trillions of dollars in economic relief in 2020.The Coronavirus Outbreak More

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    Republicans Pitch Biden on Smaller Aid Plan as Democrats Prepare to Act Alone

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Coronavirus OutbreakliveLatest UpdatesMaps and CasesSee Your Local RiskVaccine InformationWuhan, One Year LaterAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyRepublicans Pitch Biden on Smaller Aid Plan as Democrats Prepare to Act AloneThe president met at the White House with Republican senators seeking a much smaller stimulus plan, but congressional Democrats pressed forward to force through his $1.9 trillion measure, if necessary.President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with Republican senators on Monday about a stimulus plan.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York TimesLuke Broadwater and Feb. 1, 2021Updated 7:43 p.m. ETWASHINGTON — A coalition of 10 Republican senators took a stimulus counterproposal to the White House on Monday evening, urging President Biden to scale back his ambitions for a sweeping $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package in favor of a plan less than one-third the size that they argued could garner the bipartisan consensus the new president has said he is seeking.Their outline, which came as Democrats prepared to push forward on Mr. Biden’s plan with or without Republican backing, amounted to a test of whether the president would opt to pursue a scaled-back measure that could fulfill his pledge to foster broad compromise, or use his majority in Congress to reach for a more robust relief effort enacted over stiff Republican opposition.Mr. Biden appeared eager to signal an openness to negotiating, telling Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine and the leader of the group, that he was “anxious” to hear what the senators had to say as they chatted in the Oval Office before the meeting began, and spending two hours behind closed doors in what both sides described as a cordial and productive session.“I wouldn’t say that we came together on a package tonight,” Ms. Collins told reporters as she left. But she called the discussion “excellent” and said Mr. Biden and the senators had agreed to continue their talks. And she said Republicans appreciated that Mr. Biden had devoted his first Oval Office meeting as president to “a frank and very useful discussion” with them.“All of us are concerned about struggling families, teetering small businesses, an overwhelmed health care system, getting vaccines out and into people’s arms, and strengthening our economy and addressing the public health crisis that we face,” Ms. Collins said.Even so, Mr. Biden’s advisers have made clear that the president has little enthusiasm for significantly cutting back on the rescue measure he has proposed. And there was scant evidence, for now, that any Democrats were seriously considering embracing a proposal as limited as the one the Republicans have laid out.“The risk is not that it is too big, this package,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said before the meeting. “The risk is that it is too small. That remains his view.”Republicans outlined the plan as the Congressional Budget Office projected that the American economy would return to its pre-pandemic size by the middle of this year, even if Congress did not approve any more federal aid for the recovery, but that it would be years before everyone thrown off the job by the pandemic would be able to return to work.The rosier-than-expected projections were likely to inject even more debate into the discussions over the stimulus measure, emboldening Republicans who have pushed Mr. Biden to scale back his plan. But they also indicated that there was little risk that another substantial package of federal aid could “overheat” the economy, and reflected the prolonged difficulties of shaking off the virus and returning to full levels of economic activity.The Republicans’ $618 billion proposal would include many of the same elements as Mr. Biden’s plan, with $160 billion for vaccine distribution and development, coronavirus testing and the production of personal protective equipment; $20 billion to help schools reopen; more relief for small businesses; and additional aid to individuals. But it differs in ways large and small, omitting a federal minimum wage increase or direct aid to states and cities.It would slash the direct payments to Americans, providing $1,000 instead of $1,400 and limiting them to the lowest income earners, excluding individuals who earned more than $50,000. It would also pare back federal jobless aid, which is set to lapse in March, setting weekly payments at $300 through June instead of $400 through September.On Capitol Hill, top Democrats said they were worried a smaller package would not adequately meet the needs of struggling Americans.“This proposal is an insult to the millions of workers and families struggling to survive this crisis,” Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and the incoming Finance Committee chairman, said of the Republican plan. “A bill that sets up yet another cliff for jobless workers in a few short months is a nonstarter.”Hours before Mr. Biden sat down with the Republicans, Democratic leaders began laying the groundwork to move forward on their own, if necessary, with the president’s $1.9 trillion plan through a process known as budget reconciliation, which would allow it to bypass any Republican filibuster with a mere majority vote.Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, filed a joint budget resolution to begin the process, with plans for votes in the Senate by week’s end.The Coronavirus Outbreak More

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    Effort to Include $15 Minimum Wage in Relief Bill Poses Test for Democrats

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The New WashingtonLatest UpdatesExpanding Health CoverageBiden’s CabinetPandemic ResponseAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyEffort to Include $15 Minimum Wage in Relief Bill Poses Test for DemocratsThe measure will test their willingness and ability to use procedural maneuvers to shepherd big policy goals past entrenched Republican opposition in an evenly divided Senate.Senator Bernie Sanders is mounting an aggressive push for the minimum wage as he prepares to take control of the Senate Budget Committee.Credit…Pool photo by Graeme JenningsJan. 31, 2021, 7:04 p.m. ETWASHINGTON — As Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, prepares to take control of the Senate Budget Committee, he is mounting an aggressive campaign ahead of what will be one of his first tests as chairman: securing the support needed to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 in a pandemic relief package.Whether he succeeds will not only affect the jobs and wages of millions of American workers, but also help define the limits of Democrats’ willingness and ability to use procedural maneuvers to shepherd major policy proposals past entrenched Republican opposition in an evenly divided Senate.President Biden and top Democratic leaders have repeatedly said their first choice is to pass Mr. Biden’s sweeping $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal with bipartisan support. But Republicans are already balking at the scope of the proposal, and raising the minimum wage to $15 is a particularly contentious part of the bill, a progressive priority that draws intense opposition from many Republicans.So Democrats are barreling toward using a fast-track process known as budget reconciliation to avoid the 60-vote threshold typically needed to overcome a filibuster and approve legislation. That would allow them to pass the measure with no Republican support and Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tiebreaking vote. Both chambers are expected to vote on a budget resolution — a measure that will formally direct committees in the House and the Senate to begin drafting the relief package, kicking off the reconciliation process — in the coming days.Mr. Sanders argued in an interview that Democrats clinched control of the White House and the Senate in part by promising sweeping policy changes and additional pandemic relief, and that not supporting the full legislation would betray their voters and undermine faith in the party’s governing.“If that is the case, if that is what we do, we will surely be a minority in two years,” Mr. Sanders said. “We have to keep the promises that we made.”But Republicans have said that failing to compromise would jeopardize future bipartisan negotiations for a president who has repeatedly called for unity, with a group of 10 Republican senators moving to unveil their own $600 billion proposal as early as Monday in an effort to negotiate with the administration.And the minimum wage poses a particularly polarizing test: Including it in the package would be an aggressive use of reconciliation, one some lawmakers fear will not be allowed by the Senate parliamentarian. That could force Democrats into even more contentious tactics if they want the minimum wage to pass, setting up a battle between a priority championed by liberals like Mr. Sanders and the further fraying of Senate norms.“Minimum wage is probably the most controversial of those proposals,” Mr. Sanders acknowledged. “I’m sure every Democratic senator will have some problem with some aspect of reconciliation, I do, others do — I am absolutely confident that people will support our new president and do everything we can to help the working families of this country.”Other lawmakers, including some Republicans, have argued that the pandemic relief package should be scaled down, with items like the minimum wage provision left for another legislative battle later in the year. Most House Republicans voted against a stand-alone minimum wage bill in 2019, pointing to a Congressional Budget Office report that estimated the provision would put an estimated 1.3 million Americans out of work. Senate Republicans, in control of the chamber, did not take it up.“That’s an agenda item for the administration, so be it,” Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, told reporters. “Should it be included as part of a Covid relief package? I think it takes the focus off the priority, which is what is the immediate need today.”“Hey,” she added, “you get the keys to the car now. And so let’s get some legislation done, but you don’t need to think that you need to get it all in one package.”Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, bluntly told reporters in January that “we’re not going to do a $15 minimum wage in it” and that Mr. Biden was better off reaching out to Capitol Hill and negotiating a compromise.Mr. Sanders and Democrats have argued that with jobless benefits set to begin expiring in mid-March, there is little time to win over their Republican counterparts, who embarked on similar reconciliation efforts in 2017 to repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act and pass a sweeping tax overhaul.But to secure the first increase in the federal minimum wage since 2009, even under reconciliation Mr. Sanders and liberal Democrats can afford to lose little, if any, support from the rest of the caucus.Several lawmakers, including Representative John Yarmuth of Kentucky, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, have voiced skepticism that the minimum wage provision can prevail through the rules of the reconciliation process, which imposes strict parameters to prevent the process from being abused. Under the so-called Byrd Rule, Democrats cannot include any measure that affects the Social Security program, increases the deficit after a certain period of time set in the budget resolution or does not change revenues or spending.The decision on whether the provision can be included in the reconciliation package lies with the Senate parliamentarian. Ms. Harris could ultimately overrule the parliamentarian — something that has not been done since 1975 — and Mr. Sanders declined to say whether a rejection of the minimum wage provision would prompt Democrats to do so.“Our first task is to get the ruling of the parliamentarian,” he said. “That’s what I would like to see and that’s what we are focused on right now.”Some Democrats, including Mr. Yarmuth, have signed on instead to stand-alone legislation for the minimum wage increase as another avenue for approval, but one that would require Republican support. Cedric Richmond, a top White House adviser, argued that “the minimum wage has been expanded or increased during times of crisis before” but declined to say whether it should be part of the coronavirus package or a stand-alone bill.Mr. Sanders pointed to two new studies, shown to The New York Times ahead of their publication, that argue that the minimum wage would have a direct impact on the federal budget, opening a door to using reconciliation. In a new paper, Michael Reich, a professor of economics and labor economist at the University of California, Berkeley, estimated that approval of the minimum wage would have a positive effect of $65.4 billion per year largely because of increases to payroll and income tax revenue.“It seems to me that it has pretty substantial budgetary impacts,” Mr. Reich, who has long studied the effects of minimum wage, said of the provision in an interview, adding that he had been conservative in his estimate.Another report, produced by three economists at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank and a longtime advocate for increasing the minimum wage, found that there would be “significant and direct effects” on the federal budget by increasing payroll tax revenue by $7 billion to $13.9 billion and reducing expenditures on public assistance programs by $13.4 billion to $31 billion.“This is a sizable chunk of money, no matter how you look at it,” said David Cooper, who wrote the report with Ben Zipperer and Josh Bivens. They determined that increased revenue would prevent many workers and their families from qualifying for assistance programs, reducing expenses.But it remains uncertain whether that evidence will be enough to clear the parameters of the Byrd Rule, given that those effects could be ruled “merely incidental.” The Congressional Budget Office, one of the arbiters of the budget effects, found during the last Congress that there would be minimal impact based on the wages of some federal employees.But Mr. Sanders, pressed on whether Democrats had the votes in an evenly divided Senate to move forward with the minimum wage provision, declared that there were “50 votes to pass reconciliation, including minimum wage, yes.”“In totality, what Democrats are saying,” he said, is “we’ve got to support the president, we’ve got to address the crises facing working families and we’re going to pass reconciliation.”Jim Tankersley More

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    Ghosts of 2009 Drive Democrats’ Push for Robust Crisis Response

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The New WashingtonLatest UpdatesExpanding Health CoverageBiden’s CabinetPandemic ResponseAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyNews AnalysisGhosts of 2009 Drive Democrats’ Push for Robust Crisis ResponseIn their quest for Republican backing, Democrats say they missed opportunities in 2009 for a stronger response to the Great Recession. They are determined not to repeat the mistake.Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the new majority leader, at the Capitol on Wednesday. “We should have learned the lesson of 2008 and 2009, when Congress was too timid and constrained in its response to the financial crisis,” he said last week.Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York TimesJan. 31, 2021Updated 5:27 p.m. ETWASHINGTON — Ten Republican senators asked President Biden on Sunday to drastically scale back his $1.9 trillion pandemic aid bill, offering a $600 billion alternative that they said could pass quickly with bipartisan support.But their proposal met a tepid reception from Democrats, who are preparing this week to move forward with their own sweeping package — even if it means eventually cutting Republicans out of the process. Haunted by what they see as their miscalculations in 2009, the last time they controlled the government and faced an economic crisis, the White House and top Democrats are determined to move quickly this time on their stimulus plan, and reluctant to pare it back or make significant changes that would dilute it with no certainty of bringing Republicans on board.“The dangers of undershooting our response are far greater than overshooting,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the new majority leader. “We should have learned the lesson of 2008 and 2009, when Congress was too timid and constrained in its response to the financial crisis.”Their strategy can be traced to 12 years ago, when Barack Obama became president, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, and they tackled both an economic rescue package and a sweeping health care overhaul.In retrospect, in the quest to win Republican backing for both, Democrats say, they settled for too small an economic stimulus and extended talks on the health care measure for too long. That view was driving the party’s unenthusiastic response on Sunday to the new offer from the Senate Republicans who asked for a meeting with Mr. Biden to lay out a substantially smaller stimulus proposal. In a letter, the 10 senators — notably enough to defeat a filibuster — said their priorities aligned with Mr. Biden’s on crucial areas such as vaccine distribution.But members of the group made clear in interviews on Sunday that their plan amounted to less than a third of Mr. Biden’s proposal. Democrats said they would review it, but would insist on a comprehensive legislative response.While talks with Republicans are expected to continue, Democrats are set this week to put in motion a budget process known as reconciliation that is not subject to a filibuster, allowing them to push through pandemic legislation on their own if no bipartisan agreement emerges.That possibility has Republicans squawking that Democrats are abandoning their bipartisan pledge without giving it a chance and warning that the effort will poison their ability to reach bipartisan deals. The objection ignores the fact that when they controlled Congress, Republicans rolled over Democrats in January 2017 and began their own reconciliation process even before Donald J. Trump was sworn in as president, paving the way for the enactment of a $1.5 trillion tax package that was muscled through without a single Democratic vote.“We’re giving an opportunity to come together on important and timely legislation, so why wouldn’t you do that rather than trying to move it through with reconciliation and having a fully partisan product?” asked Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska and one of the signers of the new letter.While they have yet to roll out their plan, members of the group said it would omit Democrats’ proposal for a federal minimum wage increase and scale back direct stimulus payments to individuals, excluding Americans earning more than $50,000 a year or families with a combined income exceeding $100,000.“Let’s focus on those who are struggling,” Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, said on the CNN program “State of the Union” on Sunday.But to Democrats, the scars from 2009 cut deep. First, they believe they were too accommodating to Republicans, who called for restraint in providing stimulus for the economy. Then Democrats saw themselves as sandbagged by Republicans who engaged in prolonged negotiations over health care before pulling the plug entirely, opposing legislation that they had helped draft and inflaming a partisan fight that cost Democrats dearly in the 2010 midterm elections.This time, Democrats say the new aid must be robust and delivered quickly. They do not intend to allow Republicans to dictate the timing nor the reach of the legislation.“I’m not going to let Republican senators stall for the sole purpose of stalling,” Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and the incoming chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said on a conference call hosted by the advocacy group Invest in America. He added that his view grew out of his own experience serving as a junior member of the panel during the Great Recession.Mr. Biden would no doubt prefer to push his proposal through with bipartisan support to show he is able to bridge the differences between the two parties. But the White House has been adamant that it will not chop up his plan to try to secure Republican backing and that while the scope could be adjusted, the changes will not be too substantial.“We have learned from past crises that the risk is not doing too much,” Mr. Biden, who was vice president in 2009, said on Friday at the White House, striking the same theme as Mr. Schumer. “The risk is not doing enough.”Like Mr. Biden this year, Mr. Obama entered the White House in 2009 optimistic he could cooperate with Republicans, and there had been promising signs in 2008. In the face of a dire economic emergency, congressional Republicans, Democrats and George W. Bush’s administration had worked closely to approve the $700 billion Wall Street bailout. Republicans also seemed dispirited by steep election losses in November, suggesting some might be open to cooperation.But to an extent that was not immediately apparent, top Republicans in the House and Senate quickly decided that their best path to reclaiming power was to remain united against Mr. Obama’s agenda, a stance Republicans later acknowledged.As a result, the administration and Democratic leaders had to make multiple concessions to ensure the votes of three Republicans and a few moderate Democrats needed to provide the bare minimum of 60 votes to overcome deep Republican opposition to the stimulus package. That meant holding the amount to $787 billion, less than what some economists at the time said was needed, and potentially slowing the recovery.President Obama speaking about health care in 2009. Democrats say they settled for too small an economic stimulus to gain needed Republican support while also extending talks on health care for too long.Credit…Stephen Crowley/The New York TimesThen came the health care law. Democrats were determined to both expand access to affordable health insurance and to work with Republicans in doing so. They were also concerned then about repeating past mistakes, particularly the Clinton health care effort in 1994, whose spectacular collapse was attributed partly to a failure to involve Republicans from the start.While many Republicans were considered out of reach in 2009, a group of three senators influential on health care policy — Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Olympia Snowe of Maine — engaged in lengthy negotiations with three Democratic counterparts, in a group that came to be known as the Gang of Six.To bring them along, Democrats proposed a market-based approach rather than the kind of government-run, single-payer program sought by many liberals. They even eschewed a limited public option to mollify Republicans and some moderate Democrats. Still, the talks dragged, and Republicans began pulling back amid a rash of raucous protests at congressional town hall events across the country.Frustrated and believing Democrats were being strung along, Mr. Obama in September 2009 summoned Mr. Grassley to the White House along with Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, who was leading the Gang of Six.Mr. Obama recounted the scene in his new memoir, writing that he had pressed Mr. Grassley on whether, “if Max took every one of your latest suggestions, could you support the bill?” Mr. Grassley was hesitant. “Are there any changes — any at all — that would get us your vote?” Mr. Obama asked, drawing what he described as an awkward silence from the Republican senator.“I guess not, Mr. President,” Mr. Grassley eventually responded.As they plunge forward this year, Democrats say they do not want to find themselves in a similar position, working with Republicans only to come up short with an insufficient response that does not draw bipartisan support.Some Democrats still hold out hope of reaching bipartisan agreement on at least some elements of the administration’s coronavirus response and say the party must make a legitimate attempt to come together with Republicans.“We ought to try to do what we can do in a bipartisan way,” Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a leading Democrat in the bipartisan talks, told reporters. He said it would then be appropriate for Mr. Schumer to use “other means to move things along” if progress could not be made.Emily Cochrane More