COVID-19 Relief Should Target Economic and Public Health Needs
For Immediate Release
With the Senate unveiling plans for a new COVID-19 relief bill, lawmakers in the coming days and weeks will negotiate a new package of economic and public health support. Congress has already enacted $3.6 trillion of spending, tax cuts and deferrals, loans, and other fiscal aid, but some of this support is expiring or fading. As lawmakers develop the next package, they should focus on addressing economic and public health needs with policies that are timely, targeted, temporary, and tailored to the current crisis. The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:
With the CARES Act in March, the goal was to get money out the door as fast as possible to prevent an economic collapse. Was it perfect? No it was not, but it was remarkably effective in preventing a truly dire situation, and lawmakers acted quickly and impressively in a bipartisan manner to get the money into the economy. Things would have been unimaginably worse had they not acted.
Since then, however, we’ve had four months to figure out how to spend the next round of money more efficiently and effectively. We know the challenges we are facing – a $750 billion economic output gap over the next six months, a sharp but manageable drop off in income, high levels of unemployment, faltering businesses, depressed state and local revenue, and new virus outbreaks. The next package must appropriately address these challenges, not throw money at every pet project with a lobbyist or special interest group.
In the coming days and weeks, personal incomes and small business liquidity could see a sharp decline and state and local government job cuts could accelerate. Lawmakers have an opportunity to address these immediate needs and – most importantly – provide additional resources for testing, contact tracing, and development of a vaccine in a way that provides the best return to the economy and society for each dollar spent.
The details of the package should be built from the ground up, while its size is determined by the overall needs of the economy and society, and its structure is based on what will do the most good at the lowest economic cost. At a time of true national crisis, citizens have the right to expect their leaders to come together and act responsibly and judiciously in meeting the needs of people, businesses, and the economy, while eschewing pricey giveaways that might be good election-year politics but will do little to help us through the current crisis.
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