During Sunday’s debate, former Vice President Joe Biden noted that in building a response to the coronavirus crisis, his options were limited.
“We’ve eaten a lot of our seed corn here” he said pointing towards President Trump’s 2017 tax cut and the fact that the Federal Reserve has now cut interest rates to zero for the first time since the financial crisis.
It was in that context that he outlined “a major, major, major bailout package” that he said would be focused on individuals and not on corporations.
He described a far reaching plan that would “let people know their mortgage is going to be paid. Their rents are going to be paid. They are going to have child care. They are going to make sure that all their medical bills are cared for relating to this et cetera.”
The plan he outlined builds on what he proposed earlier in the week in a plan published on JoeBiden.com and in a speech Thursday in Wilmington, Delaware.
The plan on his website has three main economic pillars. The first and second planks are focused on leave policies and federal assistance to families. Those plans include many provisions currently in the coronavirus stimulus bill that passed the House of Representatives early Saturday morning.
That bill is expected to be passed by the Senate this week and signed into law by Trump.
The third part of Biden’s plan is for a state and local emergency fund that would, among other things, “allow mayors and governors to implement rental assistance, no-interest forbearance or mortgage payment relief.”
During his speech, the current front-runner for the nomination said of people that experience a layoff or a decline in hours: “we need to help them stay in their homes.”
‘All their medical bills are cared for’
Biden’s reassurance to people on their medical bills could be an expensive promise given the current health care system and depending on how many people eventually require treatment for COVID-19.
In his Thursday speech, he promised that a Biden administration would make testing free and would also distribute an eventual vaccine for free. His plan discusses ensuring that everyone “will not have to pay a dollar out-of-pocket for visits related to COVID-19 testing, treatment, preventative services, and any eventual vaccine.”
The issue of paying for treatments has been in the news this week since Trump, during his address to the nation, said that insurance companies “have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments, extend insurance coverage to these treatments, and to prevent surprise medical billing.”
The reaction from the insurance companies quickly forced the White House to backtrack and clarify that they were only looking to cover the cost of testing and expand coverage for treatment.
Biden’s opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders has also promised to cover all treatments since the beginning. He used the debate, as he has in multiple speeches this week, to make the case for his Medicare for All plan.
“I’ll tell you something right now” he said Sunday night “in the midst of this epidemic, you got people in the pharmaceutical industry who are saying, oh, wow, what an opportunity to make a fortune.”
Biden’s rejoinder was that his plan could happen quickly as opposed to a Medicare for All bill that would likely run into massive political resistance in Washington.