As small businesses across the US continue to struggle in the shadow of the unprecedented pandemic, the owners of an Indian restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, got the opportunity to sit down for a virtual chat with President Joe Biden to talk about how COVID-19 has affected their business. In a video released by the White House, Biden was seen in a remote conversation with Neal and Samir Idnani, the owners of NaanStop. The clip starts with the President asking the owners of the restaurant about their well being, following which Neal said that their business had gone down almost 75 per cent since the pandemic hit last year.
Neal said that from 20 to 25 employees, their staff had also gone down to 10-15 people. Biden then asked, “What is the greatest need you have now for your restaurants to be able to survive?” The restaurant owner replied saying that their greatest need is for everyone to get inoculated so people could go out again. Further, the President spoke about his rescue plan for small businesses.
Biden said, “I put together a rescue plan that provides tens of billions of dollars in grants to small businesses. We have to invest more, not less. We've got to give you a chance to rebuild that's separate and apart from dealing with the virus”.
Samir and Neal own NaanStop in Atlanta, Georgia — and like many small businesses around the country, they’ve been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. I gave them a call to hear their story and talk about how the American Rescue Plan will help businesses like theirs. pic.twitter.com/9FjudVGsMJ— President Biden (@POTUS) February 13, 2021
Biden hasn’t made headway with his initial efforts to win bipartisan support for his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, so, with the ‘weekly conversation’, he is taking his case directly to the voters, and connecting with Americans one at a time as he uses their stories to drive his policy agenda. While speaking to CNN, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also amplified that message. She acknowledged the criticism of the size of the relief package and the warning from Larry Summers, the former director of the National Economic Council during the Obama administration, that it could lead to inflation.
However, Yellen said that the overreaching goals of restoring economic prosperity are important. She added that she expects that if the package is passed then the country would get back to full employment next year. Yellen said that the economic challenges and tremendous suffering in the country are the “biggest risk”. She also noted that the Congressional Budget Office issued a recent analysis showing that the unemployment rate will not return to four per cent again until 2025 unless there is additional support. “We would have a long slow recovery as we had after the financial crisis, but this package is going to really speed recovery," she said.
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