Weekday White House: "Never doubt Speaker Pelosi"

The quote in the title came from a comment White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki made today in response a reporter's question asking whether the White House believed it when Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she fully expected Congress to send a massive COVID relief package to the President's desk by mid-March. And most of the press briefing today focused on the need for economic relief. Jared Bernstein, a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, joined the briefing to stress the priority of the American Rescue Plan.


The January jobs report shows a floundering recovery badly in need of cash infusion.

  • Topline: 49,000 jobs were added in January, and the unemployment rate stands at 6.3%. The jobs numbers for December and November were revised downward:
    • November: jobs added revised down from 336,000 jobs added to 264,000.
    • December: jobs lost revised up from 140,000 jobs lost to 227,000 jobs lost.
    • In total, during November and December, the US economy added 159,000 fewer jobs than initially reported.
  • The US economy now has 10 million fewer jobs than it did in February 2020.
  • 40% of those unemployed have been unemployed for 6 months or longer.
  • People of color are more likely to be unemployed. Unemployment rates, broken down by race, is as follows: 9.2% among Blacks, 8.6% among Hispanics, 6.6% among Asians, and 5.7% among whites.
  • Bernstein said the numbers indicate a stalled recovery and highlight the urgent need for Congress to act on the rescue package.
  • Strong relief is needed for equitable and racially inclusive recovery.
  • POTUS not willing to budge on additional $1400 direct payments in addition to the $600 already included in the package Congress enacted in December. But the checks have 3 components, some of which may be negotiable:
    1. Threshold: the income levels at which the payment start to become lower and is completely eliminated. Those who make $300K and did not lose income don't need the checks, but middle class families must not be left out.
    2. Levels: $1400 is non-negotiable.
    3. Phaseout: After a threshold level, the payments will start to get phased out (getting lower), and at another, it will completely phase out. How that phaseout happens is under negotiation.
  • There is consensus in the White House that the financial recovery package in 2009 in the wake of the Great Recession was helpful but inadequate at $800 billion, and that Republicans did not work with Democrats in good faith then. GOP is now suffering the consequence of that as Democrats are moving to reconciliation for a big package.
  • White House believes minimum wage increase should be part of the COVID package as it helps essential workers.
  • Psaki reiterated that the ARP continues to enjoy wide and bipartisan support from Americans.


  • The Acting Attorney General will attend funerals of the two FBI agents who were killed in the line of duty in Florida.
  • The President will be in Delaware for the weekend.
  • Next week, the White House will unveil a new effort to regularly communicate directly with the American people, ala FDR's Fireside Chats.
  • POTUS visits week of 2/8:
    • Monday, 2/8: Virtual tour of vaccination centers.
    • Wednesday, 2/10: POTUS @ Pentagon.
    • Thursday, 2/11: POTUS @ NIH.
  • The Administration is planning a major public affairs campaign to get people vaccinated.
Let's do this again Monday.

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