On Wednesday night President Joe Biden gives his first speech to a joint session of Congress, just two days before he marks his first 100 days in office on Friday. It’s a time to survey what the administration has done so far to help the economy.
Parts of the economy that the Biden administration inherited look like Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage. Instead of gearing up to host hundreds of guests every night, “what it’s being used for at the moment is there’s a place where you can get a vaccination,” said Arena Stage Executive Producer and President Edgar Dobie. “We can do up to 1,000 vaccinations a day there, which is thrilling.”
Dobie said Arena Stage stayed afloat thanks to COVID relief programs from the Trump and Biden administrations.
This week, Dobie’s team put in an application for the $16 billion “Shuttered Venues” program in the administration’s latest relief package.
“When we’re in full flight, we’re about a $20 million-a-year operation, performances, education programs and special events,” he said. “We almost overnight lost $14 million worth of that revenue.”
Schools have received even more support, including in the American Rescue Plan. “Almost $130 billion for K-12 education, and part of that was meant to allow for school reopening,” said Emma García, an education economist at the Economic Policy Institute.
García said the administration is hoping to add to that number through its infrastructure package. It’s also pushed a flurry of executive orders on the economy. But, so far, the administration’s been sticking to plans it can implement without Republican support, said Ken Jacobs, chair of the Labor Center at the University of California, Berkeley.
“Most everything Biden is proposing are things that are budgetary, which means they can be moved through the Senate procedure called reconciliation, which can be done with a majority vote,” Jacobs said.
While the first 100 days have been a rush of action and activity, Jacobs points out many of the bigger economic issues that the administration wants to tackle will require congressional compromise.
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