Tags: Coronavirus | congressional | pelosi | ppa | federal | reserve | stimulus

Mark Congress as AWOL on COVID Aid

us house speaker nancy pelosi democrat of california and early coronavirus aid

Speaker of the U.S. House Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., signs a bill after passage of a $2 trillion stimulus bill, on March 27, 2020, at the U.S. Capitol. The House approved by a voice vote a $2.2 trillion rescue package, the largest economic stimulus package in American history, to aid the U.S economy and healthcare system battered by coronavirus. (Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images)

By Friday, 02 October 2020 01:56 PM Current | Bio | Archive

With all the hullabaloo about the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy and presidential election, the national media has largely overlooked a pressing matter before Congress needing immediate attention.

Whether the COVID-19 epidemic surges or wanes the ongoing economic and social effects of the epidemic are unquestionable. The U.S. bought precious time with earlier actions by Congress, the president, and the Federal Reserve to provide considerable stimulus for our economy.

In the first half of this year these emergency spending measures — over three trillion dollars in all — basically replaced most of the nation’s economic output lost to the epidemic. But even as COVID-19 continues to ravage our economy, negotiations in Congress to provide more economic aid to families and businesses are stalled.

Some observers fear that this political impasse could last past the November election, and possibly even until a new Congress takes office next January.

Economists of nearly all political stripes — who rarely see eye-to-eye on anything — all generally agree that this deadlock threatens the nation’s fragile economic recovery.

Millions of Americans who were able to make rent payments and pay for essentials like food and medicine with the extra money Washington sent through state unemployment system are especially vulnerable.

They’ve seen their supplemental federal benefit drop from $600 per week to $300, and even that funding will run out this month for many.

When this money dries up, more people will be unable to pay rent, buy enough food, or pay medical bills for their families. Many will then find themselves resorting to welfare programs, food stamps, and even Medicaid.

In a vicious circle, they’ll become dependent on other federal and state programs to make ends meet from the help they received under the emergency federal stimulus program.

Likewise, many hundreds of thousands of small businesses that have been hanging on for dear life will now face the distinct possibility of closing for good.

With their demise will go millions of decent jobs held primarily by hardworking middle-class people who live just a paycheck or two away from financial disaster.

The Payroll Protection Act (PPA) passed as part of the earlier compromise between Congress and the Administration gave these businesses a lifeline.

Now they’ll drown with the dead weight of an economy still in severe distress. And more workers who were kept on payrolls under the PPA will sink into unemployment too.

Unfortunately, political leaders in Washington have resorted to the usual foot-stomping and name-calling rather than action on this critical issue. First the Democratic leadership in the U.S. House passed a massive $3.4 trillion "Christmas tree bill" loaded up with expensive presents for all their special interest friends.

Then the Republicans in the Senate dithered while they negotiated with themselves over the size of another federal stimulus bill, or whether to pass one at all.

This impasse should have been broken weeks ago.

The Senate finally did pass a $500 billion emergency bill that would pump a considerable amount of money into our hard-pressed economy.

When a bi-partisan group of House members took the politically risky step of breaking with their leaders to urge passage of a compromise bill, they were beaten back by their leadership.

Instead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made the magnanimous (to her) offer of a $2.2 trillion bill. In response, the Trump administration has signaled support for a $1.5 trillion bill, which meets Speaker Pelosi’s bill more than half-way.

Clearly, there’s room to reach an agreement.

Since the Congress is thankfully still a bicameral body with a Senate and not just a House, this deadlock can be broken only by serious good-faith negotiations. President Trump has said he’ll sill sign whatever compromise legislation the Congress sends to him.

And compromise is the key word here.

If congressional leaders have calculated that they can gain more short-term political advantage by fighting rather than settling this dispute, they will have committed gross misfeasance.

There was a time not too long ago when $500 billion proposed by the Senate would have been considered a huge amount, and when the $3 trillion proposed by the House would have been considered fiscally reckless. But these are not ordinary times.

The nation is at war with an invisible enemy. There is a number between restraint and excess that must be found.

If that number is not found soon, the number that should be cut is the number of years Members of Congress can serve. 

Perhaps the time has come to pass term limits.

Former Senator Alfonse D’Amato served a distinguished 18-year career in the U.S. Senate, where he chaired the Senate Banking Committee and was a member of the Senate Appropriations and Finance Committees. While in the Senate, Mr. D’Amato also Chaired of the U.S. Commission on Cooperation and Security in Europe (CSCE), and served on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The former Senator is considered an expert in the legislative and political process, who maintains close relationships with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. He is regularly called upon for his advice and counsel, and is recognized for his incisive analysis of national and international political affairs. The former Senator will share insights gained from his years in Washington “with a clear-eyed view of the political forces that shape the world we live in today.” Read Alfonse D'Amato's Reports — More Here.

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There was a time not too long ago when $500 billion proposed by the Senate would have been considered a huge amount, and when the $3 trillion proposed by the House would have been considered fiscally reckless. But these are not ordinary times.
congressional, pelosi, ppa, federal, reserve, stimulus
Friday, 02 October 2020 01:56 PM
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