It’s been nearly a year since President Joe Biden announced the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion plan to “rescue the economy” by “containing the virus,” as Biden said in his introduction of the plan.
At the time, new media propped up Biden’s plan to spend a record amount of money to contain the virus and get the economy moving.
“President-elect Joe Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion plan to rescue the U.S. economy by beating the pandemic, proposing economic and public health measures that include $1,400 checks for Americans, extended unemployment benefits, expanded daycare, and hiring 100,000 new public health workers,” BuzzFeed promised.
And a year later we can say for certain, that whatever else it did, that the ARP most definitely didn’t beat the pandemic, even before the outbreak of the new Omicron variant started a record surge of Covid recently.
Let’s just look at a few examples of what was promised and what has been delivered.
The ARP set aside $50 billion for new testing initiatives, according to Vox.
Vox promised this as part of the “immediate relief” given by the ARP because “the economy getting back to normal is contingent on getting the virus under control” as quickly as possible with the help of testing.
One benefit of the new testing regime, in addition to getting more people tested, said Buzzfeed, was that it would “aim toward detecting new more transmissible variants of the coronavirus.”
And the fact that Omicron is more contagious is an eventuality that took and by surprise despite spending in the plan to make discovery of new variants and testing a priority to the tune of $50 billion.
Hospitals are also facing another crisis of capacity as the number of Covid cases surge, even though the administration promised it “will hire 100,000 public health workers to give shots and follow outbreaks” with the money approved by the ARP according to BuzzFeed News.
Even before the ARP, it was apparent that the one thing the federal government could do to great effect was surge staff to localities that had had hospital bed shortages. It’s a capacity that is , despite spending under ARP on 100,000 new health care staff.
The administration is considering to finally do what the first three vaccinations have not done: Get the virus under control. But a fourth round of vaccinations could have been accomplished quite independently of the ARP.
In short, the only tool that the administration has used to keep the Covid case count down has been vaccinations– which was developed before the ARP — and which strain looks to be playing out with the new Omicron variant.
The new media heads at BuzzFeed and Vox promised that if the government just spent the money in the ARP, Covid would be contained.