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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.

Business travel might be going out of style

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Companies have made it a year and a half mostly without traveling for work — and now more and more of them are considering dramatically reducing business travel to slash costs and cut carbon emissions.

Why it matters: Business travel is a massive part of the global economy — with trillions of dollars and millions of jobs at airlines, hotels and travel agencies hinging on its return.

Local Florida leaders eye ways to take on DeSantis' anti-mask stance

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

With Florida at the forefront of the nation's COVID surge, local governments across Tampa Bay are wondering if — or how — they can subvert Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration to do something to slow the spread.

Why it matters: A day after Florida broke its record for daily cases, it did the same for the total number of COVID hospitalizations — set way back in July 2020, per the AP.