Wealth inequality critic and heiress Abigail Disney on Biden's $1.9 trillion rescue package: 'This stimulus is a moral imperative'

  • President-elect Joe Biden announced a $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus package on Thursday that includes $1,400 checks for Americans.
  • Abigail Disney, filmmaker and wealth inequality critic, tells Insider that the proposal was "a far cry from the paltry help offered by Republicans last month."
  • The granddaughter of Walt Disney Co. cofounder Roy Disney previously signed a letter advocating for higher taxation on the wealthy to fund the Covid-19 pandemic response.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President-elect Joe Biden announced a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus plan on Thursday that includes $1,400 checks, an eviction moratorium through September, and an extension of increased SNAP benefits.

"The crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight and there's no time to waste," he said. "We not only have an economic imperative to act now, I believe we have a moral obligation. In this pandemic in America, we cannot let people go hungry. We cannot let people get evicted. We cannot watch nurses, educators, and others lose their jobs, we so badly need them."

Filmmaker Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Walt Disney Co. cofounder Roy Disney, told Insider that she approved of the package.

"I was most impressed by the language Biden used to frame this stimulus plan because the choices we make as a country now must be based on our values," the wealth inequality critic said via email. "This stimulus is a moral imperative."

The proposed $1,400 checks drew some confusion as Biden had previously promised $2,000 checks. Disney noted that the last Covid-19 relief package included $600 payments, so the total distributed amounts to $2,000.

"The $1,400 direct payment will go a long way when added to the $600," she wrote. "Combine that with a push for a higher minimum wage, more generous unemployment benefits, help with childcare costs, mandatory paid sick days, and help for state and local governments to do their jobs and it all comes together in something less than ideal, but a far cry from the paltry help offered by Republicans last month."

Biden's proposed move to more than double the federal minimum wage to $15 could benefit more than 20 million workers. This wage increase could save taxpayers more than $100 billion per year, as fewer Americans would have to rely on safety net programs like SNAP and Medicaid, according to UC Berkeley.

The "American Rescue Plan" also includes a $20 billion national vaccination program that would launch community vaccination centers and mobile vaccination units. Vaccine rollout, key to economic recovery, has been chaotic in the US. Biden says he will unveil a plan to reach 100 million vaccinations by the 100th day of his presidency.

"If his plan to move vaccines out more quickly is executed well, the economy may well come roaring back to life, bringing jobs for many of the unemployed and tax revenues for strapped local governments," Disney wrote.

Disney has advocated for policy reform during the pandemic, signing an open letter along with 83 other millionaires asking to be taxed more in order to fund the response to Covid-19. 

"As Covid-19 strikes the world, millionaires like us have a critical role to play in healing our world," the letter reads. "No, we are not the ones caring for the sick in intensive care wards. We are not driving the ambulances that will bring the ill to hospitals. We are not restocking grocery store shelves or delivering food door to door. But we do have money, lots of it."

Biden did not refer to any specific tax increases in his speech but did say these investments and others would be financed by making sure "everyone pays their fair share" of taxes.

"You can do it without punishing a single person by closing tax loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas or that allow American companies, 90 of them in the top Fortune 500, to pay zero in federal income taxes," Biden said. "Asking everyone to pay their pair of fair share at the top, so we can make permanent investments to rescue and rebuild America. It's the right thing for our economy. It's the fair thing. It's the decent thing to do.

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