Speed Reads

First-world problems

Biden's COVID-19 aid package works out to spending $43,000 a second until 2022

President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan on Thursday night, right before addressing the nation on the next steps in the COVID-19 pandemic fight. The White House and Treasury Department say the $1,400 stimulus checks for most Americans will start arriving in bank accounts this weekend, but the other $1.5 trillion won't be as easy to disburse, The Associated Press reports. "Biden must spend an average of $3.7 billion every day for the rest of this year. That's $43,000 every second of every day until midnight chimes on 2022."

The ARP's continuation of enhanced unemployment benefits will also be easy to distribute, thanks to systems set up to manage the previous $4 trillion in pandemic aid. "But other elements are trickier," AP notes, like the new system of monthly payments for parents of children 17 and younger, expected to begin in July. "The real troubles are going to show up in these new tax credit programs,"said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the Republican economist who now heads the center-right American Action Forum. "Can the IRS administer this new monthly payment to tens of millions of American families?"

No congressional Republicans voted for the law, and the price tag was among their chief objections. "Some people are saying this is too much, that the economy's going to overheat ... that there's going to be money falling from the sky," MSNBC's Chris Hayes told White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain on Thursday night. "What is your response to people with those worries?" Klain argued the size of the legislation matches the needs of the extraordinary moment.

"Chris, we have 10 million people who, a year into this, still don't have jobs," Klain said. "We have, today, the 52nd consecutive week record-high initial unemployment claims. We have in this country food lines that are miles long. It's long past time for this country to step up and do what we need to do to help those people who are hurting" and in the process, grow the economy.