On Friday, March 27, bipartisan support for the new CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act became a historic moment. This is the largest stimulus bill the economy has ever seen. The largest stimulus bill in the Obama era was half its size. This 2.2 trillion dollar bill is a lot, and does a lot, and is still open to controversy. What’s in it that makes it so big?
That shouldn’t be the question. The question is, what outside of the bill is making it so big? With vast unemployment, growing death rates, and incoming economic depression this bill needs to be big and needs to be fast in implementation.
To begin with, the CARES Act is dramatically more important and improved than the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed before, because it provides a lot more money for workers who were displaced during the pandemic. It also gives all Americans that make under 75k a year cash payments of up to $1,200. Along with this it provides unemployment benefits for gig workers, or workers who sign a legal contract and directly deal with clients for a company (ex: Uber drivers).
For businesses, it gives small businesses a $306B assistance program, and big businesses a $500B bailout fund. It also gives hundreds of billions of dollars to hospitals and states battling the virus on the front lines.
In my opinion, the best part of this bill is what Democrats pushed for. They were able to have the bill contain more unemployment assistance, which allows a lot of the people who have lost their jobs to receive up to bi-weekly payments of nearly 100% of their previous income for the next four months. In the original Republican bill, low income citizens would be receiving less in each cash payment.
This bill does a lot, and it is surprising to say it leaves some things out. During the initial outbreak, the Small Business Administration (SBA) handled ventilators, masks, and testing very poorly. Now, in this bill, the burden of an incoming wave of millions of applications to receive the emergency small business loan which would be forgiven at the end of the pandemic as long as they keep most of their workers on the payroll. It is the hope that the SBA performs much better than it did prior to the bill.
Furthermore, there is almost no mention of how students in college will be aided due to the coronavirus taking them out of class, into unemployment, and still have the students pay for their education.
As a bill in quick response to the growing coronavirus in our nation, it does its job. It’s effective in a lot of ways, and it may have gaps that are overlooked, and that should be amended, but as such a large bill I think it is much better than the previous bill that was proposed before by Mitch McConnell.