Pace of spending for pandemic aid? Try $43,000 every second

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President Joe Biden leaves after signing the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus relief package, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

BALTIMORE – To pay out his coronavirus relief package, President Joe Biden must spend an average of $3.7 billion every day for the rest of this year. That’s $43,000 every second of every day until midnight chimes on 2022.

For the amount of time that readers took to reach this sentence, Biden needs to disburse nearly $800,000 to stay on track.

That's according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, and even then, the Biden administration would still have plenty of the $1.9 trillion to spend in later years as a vaccinated country battles back to economic health.

The president signed the aid package into law Thursday without a comprehensive plan in place to distribute all of the funds, which will be a core focus of the administration in coming weeks.

The level of spending is a testament to the complexity of addressing a disease that seeped so widely across the nation in less than a year, and the economic pain that it has wrought.

“It’s taxpayer money that you want to put out fairly, but you also want to put out fast,” said Jack Smalligan, a senior policy fellow at the Urban Institute and a former White House budget official.

Some spending, such as cash transfers, can occur at speed.

The Biden administration already announced that it will send the $1,400 in direct checks -- a total of about $400 billion--starting this weekend. The administration also will continue the enhanced jobless aid for the 20.1 million Americans who are collecting some form of the benefits. Both the direct checks and jobless aid were part of past COVID aid packages that totaled roughly $4 trillion, meaning the government has systems in place to distribute the money.