(UnitedVoice.com) – Tens of millions of Americans are out of work, some states are beginning to shut down again as COVID-19 cases spike, and Congress is about to get to work on another massive stimulus bill. In the first four rounds, Congress did something it rarely does: it worked together. The result was spending over $7 trillion to bail out the economy and help struggling Americans.
However, after the Democratic-led House passed a $3 trillion pork bill in June, the Republican-led Senate is not so apt to follow along. Neither side seems willing to budge at the moment. However, if states continue to start shutting back down and with election day approaching, something will get done as the politicians posture for votes.
The question is, what will get done and will the parties be willing to compromise on?
Democrats and Republicans Far Apart
In March, it was clear to Congress what it had to do. Businesses needed support to stay afloat and individuals needed help paying bills after losing their jobs. It was pretty straight forward.
Although tens of millions are still out of work nationwide, the numbers are not dropping dramatically as was originally predicted as companies adjust to the changes in the economy. If they learned nothing over the last four months, it’s that technology is making people replaceable in some occupations.
Democrats and Republicans agree on the big picture that something needs to be done to help America weather the COVID-19 storm. It’s in the details that the devil is lurking and the problems exist.
Get ready for America to feel like a political football as the parties fight it out and come to a conclusion. No matter what happens, there will once again be winners and losers. That much you can bank on.
State and Local Aid
Democrats want to send hundreds of billions of dollars to states, local governments, and school districts who have seen declines in tax revenues. However, Republicans argue that if states had planned and not squandered money over the last 10-20 years, they wouldn’t need the federal government to bail them out.
Schools are one area both parties agree need some kind of help. However, Republicans want to give $30 billion, and Democrats want $430 billion.
Aid to state and local governments is an area of serious contention between the parties. Anything can happen during the negotiations.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is drawing a line in the sand. He says any bill that doesn’t have legal protections for businesses that open during the pandemic is a non-starter. Democrats who are beholden to trial lawyers profoundly dislike McConnell’s position and say it’s a non-starter for them.
Who will blink first?
In the House’s HEROES Act passed last month, Democrats won an extension to the $600 per week federal unemployment benefit. Republicans argue that the extra money has hurt small businesses as former employees refuse to return to work. In some cases, those on unemployment earn more money than they do on the payroll.
As a result, Republicans say they won’t pass a bill with that provision. Instead, they are proposing incentives for people who go back to work.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) is advocating for a $450 weekly return-to-work cash incentive. It has widespread support among Republicans. The other option is to reduce the $600 unemployment benefit to $450 a week or lower.
Again, this is another stalemate.
Second Stimulus Check
What everyone wants to know is whether or not they get a second stimulus check. Both parties say it is highly likely. However, the argument may center on the amount and the criteria for eligibility.
Democrats proposed in the HEROES Act another $1,200 per individual regardless of one’s situation. Some Democrats want a $2,000 monthly stipend until the emergency declarations are lifted.
Republicans counter by saying that not everyone needs the money. McConnell believes only those making less than $40,000 per year should get a second check. The amount of direct cash from the government could also be determined by income.
The bottom line is there is a lot of disagreement right now between the two parties. In the end, something will get done. In the meantime, America may feel like a political football going back and forth. Until the real sports begin, enjoy the entertainment value if it doesn’t stress you out too much.
By Don Purdum, Freelance Contributor
The above opinions are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher.
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