Congress should cancel its Thanksgiving recess and pass another stimulus bill

Millions of people have had to put their lives on hold and make huge sacrifices throughout the Covid-19 pandemic – including, now, the cancellation of Thanksgiving.

If ordinary people are to skip their vacations with loved ones, Congress and the White House should also cancel theirs and get to work on crafting and passing legislation to help these people weather the rest of the crisis.

Welcome to the 2020 holiday season. Public officials, scientists and media are pleading with Americans to avoid spending Thanksgiving with their families to prevent the spread of Covid-19 as it increases across the country. The disease has already killed a quarter of a million people in the United States, who will never again spend those vacations or vacations with their families. People who gather for Thanksgiving, experts warn, should be prepared for the funeral around Christmas.

Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and all subsequent holidays this year will not be very festive. A vaccine seems to be on the horizon, but it won’t be there by then, at least not on a large scale. Meanwhile, millions of Americans are still out of work, and if the federal aid they received hasn’t dried up yet, it is about to. About 12 million workers are on the verge of losing their unemployment benefits on December 26, Boxing Day. Student loans, rent, and outstanding mortgages are all coming due.

The country has for months been locked in a game of will or will to get more financial support from the federal government. Help, relief and economic security from the coronavirus (CARES) Law, the $ 2.2 trillion stimulus package signed at the end of March, has made a real difference in the economy and in people’s lives. But many of the backers he has put in are over or are ending soon, and Washington lawmakers are home for the holidays instead of helping. Both House and Senate are on vacation for Thanksgiving week.

There’s a lot of blame to blame here, but it’s not equally shared. In May, House Democrats passed the HEROES Act, a $ 3 trillion proposal to follow through on the CARES Act. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has panicked legislation as “not serious,” but Senate Republicans failed to agree on their own plan for more stimulus. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spent much of the fall back and forth over potential stimulus packages, and though they were never quite in it able to strike a full deal, it was also never clear what McConnell and the GOP would agree to in the first place.

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked McConnell to restart stimulus talks. In a letter to the Kentucky Republican the week before Thanksgiving, they asked him to “join us at the negotiating table … so that we can work on a bipartisan, bicameral Covid-19 relief deal to crush the virus and save American lives. Warning that “the pandemic and economic recession will not end without our help.” Schumer reported that there is an openness on the part of the Republicans to reopen discussions, although it is not clear what that commitment looks like.

Meanwhile, outgoing President Donald Trump’s role in stimulus talks remains what it has been for months. It oscillates between the external agitator and cheerleader, but he does not seem to see himself as a central figure in the process. Asset spend Thanksgiving at the White House and not Mar-a-Lago this year, but his attention is focused on the false claims that the election was rigged against him – helping struggling Americans, not so much.

“The chances that the economy will shrink, that job losses and unemployment increase, are high. You have the escalating pandemic, you’re very unlikely to get any help from the federal government until the next president is inaugurated, and that’s early next year, ”Mark said recently. Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, at Vox. “It’s a pretty harmful infusion.”

If a vaccine is relatively close, why not just get people to the finish line?

The economic downturn caused by the pandemic has not been as severe as many economists initially feared, in large part thanks to actions taken by the federal government earlier this year. Savings rates actually rose for much of the year, and poverty did not increase as people cut back on discretionary spending, and programs like extending unemployment insurance, moratoriums on evictions, forbearance from student loans and mortgages and stimulus checks have had a real impact on household finances. .

There is now a light at the end of the tunnel, but what actually is at the end of the tunnel is still uncertain.

As coronavirus cases increase in the United States, calls for more closures have increased, but they are not a realistic option if there is not more help from the government. As my colleague Dylan Scott recently pointed out, lockouts are a regressive policy, because it is mainly low-wage, low-income workers whose workplaces are affected. So we end up with half measures like curfews, which businesses and workers hate and experts say don’t really make a difference; and schools closed while restaurants and bars remain open, as Vox’s Anna North recently explained:

Federal CARES bill money kept many businesses afloat thanks to closings earlier this year, and increased unemployment benefits and $ 1,200 stimulus checks kept many laid-off workers out of poverty. But without more help on the horizon for businesses or ordinary people, state-level and local-level closures could come at a high cost, many say, leaving some local leaders hesitant to try them.

The US economy cannot fully return to normal until the virus is under control, and increased intervention in the economy could help control the virus. It could also help remedy an uneven K-shaped recovery where people at the top do better much faster than those at the bottom.

On December 26, more than 12 million workers who received unemployment benefits through a pair of expanded programs under the CARES Act will lose their assistance, according to an estimate of the Century Foundation think tank. On December 31, tenants, landlords and people with student debt facing a steep cliff too. Washington is also expected to be on hiatus.