President Biden’s call for ongoing economic stimulus to help the West’s post-pandemic recovery was met with approval by his fellow heads of state on the first day of the G7 summit in southwestern England, according to a report.
The Financial Times reported that Biden opened the first session of Friday’s proceedings by calling on the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom to “meet the moment and support the economy.”
The president was quickly backed by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who laid out what he called “a compelling case for expansionary fiscal policy,” according to the report.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also approved, saying in his opening remarks that world leaders should not “repeat the mistakes of the last great crisis, the last big economic recession of 2008, when the recovery was not uniform across all parts of society.”
Commitments made by G7 leaders are not binding, and that may be a good thing for Biden. In March, the president enacted a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill that included $1,400 stimulus checks to Americans who earn less than $75,000 per year and extended a $300 weekly unemployment supplement through Sept. 6. Since then, 25 states, all led by Republican governors have announced they intend to end the federal unemployment benefit by mid-July.
Meanwhile, the rest of Biden’s big-spending agenda is stuck in legislative limbo, as his trillion-dollar infrastructure package is the subject of contentious bipartisan negotiations. Moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — a crucial vote on any legislation — has balked at the $1.8 trillion price tag of a bill to boost spending on education, child care and paid family leave.
The biggest news from the first day of talks was the leaders’ commitment to sharing at least 1 billion COVID vaccine shots with struggling countries, with Biden promising to send 500 million doses abroad, and Johnson pledging another 100 million shots.
The US commitment comes on top of 80 million doses Biden has already pledged to donate by the end of June. A price tag for the doses was not released, but the US is now set to be the larges donor to the international COVAX vaccine effort, as well as its biggest funder.
Johnson said the first 5 million UK doses would be shared in the coming weeks, with the remainder coming over the next year. French President Emanuel Macron said his country would share at least 30 million doses globally by year’s end, while Germany plans to donate the same amount.
With Post wires