The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t just a threat to our personal health, it has also presented a massive challenge to our economic well being. Many companies have already laid off workers, and those who are still working face shorter hours and possible exposure to the virus. Those who have been given paid leave for the next two weeks are uncertain of what happens next. Hopefully, today’s news can provide at least a little reassurance.
CBS News reports that on Thursday morning, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) unveiled the third package of measures intended to respond to the current crisis. These new measures are meant to target the economic ramifications of the pandemic and will potentially cost up to $1 trillion dollars. Included in the package are direct payments of up to $3,000 to American families depending on both wealth and how large the family is. The first payment is set to be distributed in April with another in May should the crisis still be ongoing. No word yet on how they intend to get the money to citizens. I can’t imagine having a large group of people all going to the bank to cash a check would be the smartest thing right now.
Also included in the package are a series of measures designed to keep businesses both small and large afloat through this severe dropoff.
From CBS News:
The administration’s request also includes $300 billion in small business loans, $50 billion for the beleaguered airline industry and $150 billion for other “severely distressed” industries. The small business loans would apply to employers with 500 or fewer employees, and cover 100% of six weeks of payroll. Businesses must compensate all employees for eight weeks from the time the loan is disbursed in order to qualify.
My hope is that the small business loan will allow employees in non-essential sectors to be able to have paid leave and stay home during the crisis. If it’s not absolutely necessary for people to be exposed to other people, then they shouldn’t have to be. Also, should the loans be used to help cover essential expenses such as rent and payroll, they will be converted into grants and the businesses will not be expected to pay them back.
This is an unprecedented level of public spending from the party of fiscal responsibility but this an unprecedented event. I’m glad that partisan politics, for the most part at least, are being put aside to help Americans navigate this growing crisis that is set to have long term effects on both our healthcare and financial systems.
There is no word yet on when the package will be finalized but the goal is for it to go to a vote next week.