September 28, 2020 - Douglas Myser

Tax relief spending and the debt. The federal government plans to spend historic sums to battle the economic fallout from COVID-19.  Over the past two months, Congress has approved some $2.4 trillion to combat the coronavirus crisis and the resulting financial fallout. Billions to bail out industries. Billions to bailout small businesses. Billions to boost unemployment benefits. That historical amount alone is larger than the economies, or gross domestic products of all but six other nations.  How much and how fast ? The Small Business Administration approved $349 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans over two weeks in April, or $17.3 million every minute. Within three weeks, nearly 90 million Americans got a stimulus check of up to $1200--a collective amount exceeding the annual GDP of Hungary, a measure of a country's yearly economic output. And more could be on the way as Congress mulls additional relief. This from a government nearly $25 trillion in debt and projected to spend $1.1 trillion more than it was going to collect in taxes even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. Tax relief spending and the debt.

How much has the U.S. spent on coronavirus stimulus so far. That may sound like a large number, and it is. Consider what 2.4 trillion $1 bills would look like stacked up on the 68.3 square miles that comprise Washington D.C.. The $1 bills would be piled 140 bills deep throughout the city.  Then there is additional spending to consider. Democrats propose nearly $1 trillion in direct aid to help states, counties and cities whose budgets have been decimated by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The Republican bill has no such aid though it does provide states and local governments more flexibility in how they use aid provided in earlier stimulus bills. The Democratic proposal provides roughly $200 billion in housing assistance to help renters and homeowners affected by coronavirus avoid eviction or foreclosure.

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