COVID Stimulus: Do We Need More?

COVID Stimulus: Do We Need More?

( – President Trump signed the massive $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill into law, which included checks to most Americans, small and big business aid, and assistance to hospitals. It’s only been a few days since the bill passed and Democrats are already calling for more. According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), last week’s bill isn’t enough to help the economy.

Businesses across the US are shut down and millions of Americans are either laid-off or furloughed due to state government-induced economic freezes to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eager to put her fingerprints on a new stimulus bill, Pelosi says a fourth bill could be ready for a vote right after Easter. On Monday, Pelosi told reporters that the first two stimulus bills addressed the emergency and the third bill (the one that just passed) was about mitigation. Pelosi says the fourth bill is about recovery.

Pelosi is not the only one calling for more to be done. Late Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted that it’s time for another stimulus bill to address infrastructure with interest rates at zero percent:

Unemployment Claims Explode

For the week ending March 21, 3.3 million Americans filed unemployment claims. This week, economists are projecting another 2.65 million will join them as 32 state governments have shut down non-essential businesses. Two-thirds of US governors have issued stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders.

Some economists are now projecting that 47 million Americans could lose their jobs in the coming weeks. That translates into a 32.1% unemployment rate. That would top the 24.9% unemployment rate in the Great Depression. This is in stark contrast according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) February report that showed the unemployment rate at 3.5%.

What Are Democrats Proposing in the Fourth Bill?

The big question is: what might be in the fourth bill? Democrats already tried to influence the Senate with the third stimulus package to include a host of liberal wish-lists. Among them were parts of the Green New Deal to combat climate change, diversity issues, increased power for union bargaining, and illegal immigration. None of them made it into the final bill Trump signed.

On Monday, House Democratic leaders held a call with rank and file members to get their input on a fourth stimulus package. Pelosi wants to focus on infrastructure that would help push the economy forward after the crisis is over. Some of her priorities include water systems, broadband expansion, and energy.

Democrats are also signaling they want to send money to cash-starved states – something Trump has said needs to happen. They are also eager to pick another fight with Republicans over implementing a more robust family and medical leave program, improving food assistance, and providing stronger union protections for workers and first responders. However, given how Trump and Pelosi have expressed the importance of infrastructure, that could be the primary goal of this next stimulus package.

Still, It’s just the beginning of the process. That makes it more likely that Democrats will continue adding to their wish list. It appears they haven’t learned their lesson and are unwilling to let a good crisis go to waste in order to fulfill their liberal agenda.

Democrats on a Collision Course with Senate Republicans

Many Republicans are already balking at the idea of another stimulus, saying it’s too early to determine if another bill is needed. They note that the third bill is in the early stages of implementation and that they are in a “wait and see” mode. House Minority Leader Keven McCarthy (R-CA), in particular, is adamant about waiting.

McCarthy said on Sunday that he doesn’t believe a fourth package is needed and went on to say that the most recent economic stimulus needs time to work its way into the economy.

Senate Republicans are in no hurry to jump right into another large stimulus package, either, especially if it’s not related to the COVID-19 crisis. They were quick to dismiss Pelosi’s “Phase 4” agenda and are not keen on being forced to pass a House bill they have no input on. In the second stimulus bill initiated and passed in the House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told Republican Senators to “gag and go for it.” That’s not likely to happen a second time.

On Monday, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) accused Democrats of using the crisis as an opportunity to pass their political agenda. While Democrats play their political games, Cornyn created a contrast with them, saying Republicans are approaching the situation as, “How do we protect the public health and our economy?” It appears a fight is brewing on Capitol Hill as both sides prepare for life after the COVID-19 pandemic ends and the election season heats back up.

Stay tuned… it’s going to be some interesting political theater.

By Don Purdum, Freelance Contributor

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