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President-elect Joe Biden. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A crisis is a terrible thing to waste — and President-elect Joe Biden, emboldened by Democratic Senate victories in Georgia, signaled in his speech Thursday night he has no intention of wasting this one.

Why it matters: The president-elect rolled out a $1.9 trillion package headlined for its coronavirus relief but including billions in spending for cybersecurity, transit, wages, health care and other progressive programs.

What they're saying: Trumpian economist Stephen Moore calls it "a $2 trillion wish list of social programs that the left has been trying to advance for 30 years."

  • He's correct in that, although Moore's wrong when he adds that "almost none of this has anything to do with the health emergency."

Public health is a centerpiece of the plan, with $160 billion earmarked for a broad range of programs, including coronavirus vaccination, testing, therapeutics, contact tracing, personal protective equipment and much more.

The overview: This bill is overwhelmingly about spending rather than taxes, although there are extensions to the child-care tax credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit and some health-care related credits.

Notably, it includes no "pay-fors." Biden is not seeking to raise anybody's taxes to pay for this.

  • Wages, however, are in there: The proposal includes a federal $15 minimum wage, and abolishes the lower minimum wage for people earning tips. It also includes 14 weeks of paid sick and family and medical leave.
  • Schools and transit systems get $170 billion and $20 billion respectively, after being largely left out of President Trump's stimulus bills.
  • Spending on cyber-health is included, with $9 billion going toward beefing up the Cyber Security and Information Security Agency following the devastating Russian hack.
  • All told, the package is an implicit rebuke of the Trump administration and its otiose attitude toward pandemic response.

The big picture: The coronavirus pandemic has created a K-shaped economic recovery. This proposal attempts to target the Americans worst hit by the crisis, including $400 per week in unemployment benefits extended through September. Eviction and foreclosure moratoriums will also be extended that far.

  • Racial justice features prominently. Billions of dollars are earmarked for underserved populations, including health services on tribal lands.
  • Billions more will go toward helping long-term care workers, who have borne the brunt of the disease and who are disproportionately women of color.

The bottom line: This proposal is about more than topping off the $600 stimulus checks Americans have already received with $1,400 more. It represents an unabashedly progressive agenda, centered on a strong and growing federal government.

  • If Biden succeeds in getting it passed, there's a lot more where those ideas came from. A second part, which could be even bigger, will attempt to execute on his "Build Back Better" agenda of retooling the U.S. economy for an environmentally-sustainable future.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 28, 2021 - Economy & Business

2020 was the economy's worst year since 1946

Source: FRED; Billions of chained 2012 dollars; Chart: Axios Visuals

One of the last major economic report cards of the Trump era lends perspective to the historic damage caused by the pandemic, which continued to weigh on growth in the final quarter of 2020.

By the numbers: The U.S. economy grew at a 4% annualized pace in the fourth quarter, a sharp slowdown in growth compared to the prior quarter. For the full year, the economy shrank by 3.5% — the first annual contraction since the financial crisis and the worst decline since 1946.

Updated 5 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 7 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.