The EBT electronic card is in the United States of the coronavirus the equivalent of the old food stamps, or the even more ancient ration card. Plastic money to buy food in most supermarkets in the country; the charitable allowance updated for the pandemic. Driven by a horizon of impoverishment of the population when the virus, far from receding, continues to kill, President Joe Biden signed two new executive orders this Friday, the first of them to increase food aid to millions of Americans, many of them which thicken the queues in front of food banks. The second raises the salary of federal administration employees to $ 15 an hour, more than double the current rate (7.25), also frozen since 2009. “We cannot allow people to go hungry,” Biden said. when announcing the new measures. “It is a moral obligation and an economic imperative, [porque] the benefits are going to far outweigh the cost ”. The economic crisis is worsening, Biden warned, because also “we can do nothing to change the course of the pandemic in the coming months.”
Waiting for Congress to vote on the ambitious $ 1.9 trillion emergency aid plan he unveiled last Thursday, Biden knows there is no time to waste and, on his second full day in the White House, he’s back. to make clear the priority of his mandate, that explicit support to the most affected communities, families and small businesses threatened with closure. Extending the moratorium against evictions and the payment of the debt of university students – an unbearable burden, as the Democrat repeatedly denounced in the campaign – are other measures, which, when formulated via an executive order, avoid the delay of a parliamentary procedure.
With the ray of hope that framed his inauguration as president evaporated, Wall Street opened this Friday in red and the Dow Jones Industrials, its main indicator, fell 0.59% after reaching record levels this week. According to analysts, the market’s euphoria over the inauguration already clashes squarely with the reality in Washington, that is, the difficulties that the new president may encounter in Congress to carry out the new stimulus package. Added to the reluctance of Republicans is that of some Democrats, such as Senator Joe Manchin, who has questioned the size of the plan. The Administration plans to discuss Monday with a group of senators the need to approve that aid.
“Almost 30 million Americans suffer from not having enough to eat,” Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, said in a meeting with reporters prior to the announcement of the measures. “This includes one in five black and Latino adults, according to the most recent count.” One in seven households has difficulty eating properly. In a country where schools closed today provided daily meals to students from underprivileged families, it is estimated that around 12 million children do not eat enough either, hence the president’s insistence on reopening schools as soon as possible, in their first 100 days mandate, once the sanitary safeguards decided by its Administration have been guaranteed.
Biden also wants to increase the amount of money the government deposits on EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards by 15% “to correctly reflect the cost of missed meals” due to school closures, Deese stressed. Currently, up to $ 5.7 a day is entered per school-age child. The affluent neighborhoods are not spared from pandemic misery, in view of the multitude of establishments in affluent areas of New York that accept, with well-visible signs, payment through EBT. Biden will also ask the Department of Agriculture to expand its food program for low-income and no-income individuals and families, known as SNAP in its English acronym, and one of those payable with the EBT card.
However, it is insufficient aid, stressed the head of the National Economic Council, a position once held by Janet Yellen, the designated Secretary of the Treasury, which this Friday achieved the unanimous approval of the Senate Finance Committee as prior endorsement to the vote of the plenary session. “These are concrete actions and will help families who need assistance right now. But they are not enough to solve the food crisis we face, ”Deese admitted. “Hence the need for a rescue plan for the economy,” whose negotiations will begin soon in Congress.
The new Administration also wants to make sure that the direct aid approved by Congress in December, a modest package of 900,000 million dollars, truly reach needy families, because according to the National Economic Council, there have been problems “to receive the first round of direct payments, up to eight million beneficiary households did not receive payments.” The irregularities would not be surprising, if one takes into account that Biden’s team has verified the absence of a comprehensive, systematic vaccination plan upon arrival at the White House.
If 30 million Americans have difficulty eating, about 18 million live on unemployment benefits, the rate of which stood at 6.7% in December, almost double that of a year earlier (3.5%). This subsidy has been extended until the end of September, as well as the possibility of taking paid sick leave in the event of covid-19. The most precarious workers, the most exposed to contagion – with overrepresentation of African Americans and Latinos -, in many cases avoided taking the coronavirus test in order to continue working. “Workers should not be forced to choose between employment and health,” Biden said at the White House.
As he promised he would do in the span of his first 100 days in office, Biden signed another executive order this Friday that forces the federal Administration to pay at least $ 15 an hour – since 2009 it was frozen at 7.25 – and to guarantee paid leave for employees. “These measures will help make the federal government a model employer and restore the social protections for career officials that are so essential to the country,” the National Economic Council said in a note.
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