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Data: Axios Research; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The latest COVID-19 relief package is much smaller than most Democrats wanted, and is less than half the size of the CARES Act that was passed earlier this year.

Yes, but: Put the two together, and the amount of stimulus passed by Congress in 2020 would dwarf any previous U.S. government spending program — even the New Deal.

Why it matters: President Trump's suggestion that he might not sign the bill without changes throws the whole package into doubt.

  • But even if that gets resolved, Team Biden has made it clear that they want massive new rounds of stimulus in 2021, directing money to state and local governments as well as executing on their promises to "build back better" with a multi-trillion-dollar investment program.
  • All of that spending would come on top of $2.9 trillion of stimulus passed in 2020 — an amount equivalent to a whopping 14.5% of GDP.

The big picture: Before this year, America's largest-ever spending program was Barack Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — which clocked in at just over $1 trillion, in today's money.

  • On a per-capita basis, or as a percentage of GDP, the record was held by Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal of 1933-35, which spent about $6,680 of today's dollars for every living American. That amounted to 12.6% of GDP at the time.
  • Both records could be smashed this year, with stimulus so far totaling some $8,845 per American. And if Biden gets his way, there's a lot more to come.

Go deeper

Dual assurances from Biden and Powell

Data: U.S. Department of LaborFRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

President-elect Joe Biden and Fed chairman Jerome Powell had two messages in public remarks on Thursday:

  • Biden's: Help is on the way.
  • Powell's: Help is here to stay.
Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."