$900 BILLION WILL HELP BUT NOT CURE ECONOMY
January 1, 2021 - Douglas Myser
$900 billion will help but not cure economy. The economic recover, slowing for months, is in danger of going into reverse. That's why a growing list of economists, business lobbyists and other advocacy groups are urging lawmakers to rally around a $908 billion aid package currently gaining bipartisan support in Congress. A plan of that size would fall short of doing everything that economists argue Congress should do to help workers and businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. But they said that if lawmakers could get the details right, Congress should do it anyway. "It's within the range where you could argue it does enough good that it would be worth taking it," said William Spriggs, a Howard University Economist who served in the Labor Department under President Obama. "But it leaves a ton on the table, and still leaves us with a big problem going forward." $900 billion will help but not cure economy.
The $908 billion compromise is not even a legislative proposal yet. It is a bipartisan framework, assembled by a group of senators led by Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia. Many of its details are still being negotiated, including how the government ought to distribute more aid to small businesses. Once the bill is complete, its success is not assured: Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has stopped short of endorsing it, as has President Trump. Experts say the plan would provide relief to several battered corners of the economy. It includes nearly $300 billion for small business aid, $180 billion for unemployed workers, and $160 billion for state, local and tribal governments.
The plan wouldn't help everyone who needs aid, and the support might not last long enough to bridge the economy to the rebound that is expected to come when coronavirus vaccines are widely distributed. And much depends on the details, particularly when they come to Americans who have been unemployed for months and small businesses that struggled to tap government programs early in the pandemic.