On Thursday, the U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on a COVID-19 stimulus bill proposed by Republicans earlier this week but widely expected to fail. The plan does not include many of the support measures Democrats have been lobbying for – such as funding for ailing state and local government or another round of stimulus checks for Americans.
Daniel Alpert, senior fellow and adjunct professor of macroeconomics at Cornell Law School, says that in many respects the Republican proposal is “no answer” for struggling American families.
“With nearly 30 million people currently receiving one form of unemployment benefits or another (19% of the number of employed workers prior to the crisis), the so-called ‘skinny’ Senate Republican relief bill does not come close to meeting the urgent needs of workers, households, states and localities.
“Households that have been facing joblessness – and cutbacks in hours of available work – have been without the $600/week federal unemployment benefit supplement for 6 weeks now. Coming back with a bill offering half that amount is no answer. These families are already behind the eight ball.
“These latest weeks of sky-high unemployment claims have been fueled by business failures and curtailments that have followed - as predicted by Cornell and RIWI Corp. - the exhaustion of Payroll Protection Program (PPP) benefits. What are we going to do to re-employ workers after the crisis if small and medium sized businesses are being crushed? The Republican offering to those businesses is not nearly enough.
“Finally, state and local governments are also enormous employers. We cannot afford to see further pressure on households resulting from the loss of government employment in addition to everything else, to say nothing of critical government services. The Republican answer to states and municipalities: fend for yourselves.”