Business & Economy

For President Biden, it's a $1.9 trillion gamble.

If successful, his "American Rescue Plan" will help struggling families and businesses weather an unprecedented pandemic and provide a boost to a badly dented economy. It's also broadly popular with voters.

Critics, however, worry it will be end up being a poorly targeted plan that squanders trillions in borrowed money in ways that will do little to improve the nation's long-term economic outlook.

The COVID-19 relief bill working its way through Congress is full of big ideas to help people. But there's one idea that's so big, it was politically unthinkable not that long ago.

President Biden and Democratic lawmakers want to fight child poverty by giving U.S. families a few hundred dollars every month for every child in their household — no strings attached. A kind of child allowance.

If this proposal survives the wrangling in Congress and makes it to Biden's desk, experts say it could cut child poverty nearly in half.

A sign on the door of Lucky Bones, which was forced to re-close.
David Holm / WOSU

Ohio lawmakers will look over yet another measure to pull back on Gov. Mike DeWine’s power to issue health orders. A new bill proposed by one of his fellow Republicans would take away penalties slapped on business owners cited for violating coronavirus restrictions.

Goodyear Eagle tires are shown during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020.
Paul Sancya / AP

Two of the biggest remaining American-owned and based tire manufacturers are joining forces. Akron-based Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. is acquiring Findlay, Ohio-based Cooper Tire in a deal with an equity value of $2.8 billion that will combine the two century-old companies.

Growing up in Russia, Elena Muraveva was taught the importance of self-reliance.

"I really don't like to complain," she said.

But her days are now defined by debilitating pain and frequent migraines. It's the result of a years-long battle with breast cancer that has also left Muraveva, 52, unable to work.

So she was relieved last year to learn she might qualify for disability benefits. She was given a piece of paper with the address of her local Social Security Administration field office in Philadelphia.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many American families without child care and in-person schooling. Those new household burdens have largely landed on the shoulders of women, says Journalist Claire Cain Miller.

As it turns out, January was for shopping.

Retail spending soared 5.3% last month compared to December, much more than anticipated, as U.S. families began receiving new federal coronavirus relief checks.

People bought more across the board last month, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday: furniture, electronics, clothes, sports equipment, restaurant food, groceries.

Congressional forecasters are projecting a federal deficit of $2.3 trillion this fiscal year, even without the additional $1.9 trillion in spending that President Biden has proposed.

That would mean a smaller deficit than the record $3.1 trillion in 2020, according to the forecast issued by the Congressional Budget Office on Thursday. But at $2.3 trillion, the budget gap in 2021 would still top 10% of the overall U.S. economy — making it the second-largest deficit since World War II.

President Biden's push for a $15 federal minimum wage appears to be on hold for now.

As part of a marathon session of voting on amendments to Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, the Senate late Thursday approved by voice vote a measure prohibiting an increase of the federal minimum wage during the global pandemic.

Updated at 9 a.m. ET

Hiring resumed just tepidly last month after a slump in December, as the labor market faces a long climb to recover the millions of jobs lost during the pandemic.

U.S. employers added 49,000 jobs in January, after a revised drop of 227,000 the month before. Unemployment fell to 6.3%, from 6.7% in December, as hundreds of thousands of people left the workforce.

Industries that saw notable job gains in January include business and professional services and finance, but bars and restaurants continued to lose jobs.

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