Washington, Jan 15: US President-elect Joe Biden has highlighted a growing economic divide between those few people “at the very top” and the rest of America, calling on further relief to provide financial assistance to those who need it the most.
“Just as we are in the midst of a dark winter of this pandemic as cases, hospitalizations, and deaths spike at record levels, there is real pain overwhelming the real economy,” Xinhua news agency quoted Biden as saying in an address to the nation on Thursday night from Wilmington, Delaware.
However, “you won’t see this pain if your score card is how things are going on Wall Street”, the President-elect noted.
“You will see it very clearly if you examine what the twin crises of the pandemic and the sinking economy have laid bare: the growing divide between those few people at the very top who are doing quite well in this economy — and the rest of America,” Biden said.
“Just since this pandemic began, the wealth of the top 1 percent has grown by roughly $1.5 trillion since the end of last year — four times the amount for the entire bottom 50 per cent.
Noting that some 18 million Americans are still relying on unemployment insurance, and some 400,000 small businesses have permanently closed their doors, the President-elect said “a crisis of deep human suffering” is in plain sight.
Calling the recently approved 900-billion-dollar bipartisan relief package “an important first step”, he said “we need more action, more bipartisanship, and we need to move fast.”
Biden on Thursday unveiled a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill, which includes another round of direct payments to individuals, aid for state and local governments, increased unemployment benefits, as well as more funding for testing and vaccine distribution.
The President-elect also called on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, up from the current $7.25 per hour, a policy agenda that was already put in the Democratic Party’s platform in 2016.
Several states, such as California and New York, have already passed laws to boost minimum wage to $15, but federal minimum wage has not been increased since 2009.