“The not-a-stimulus deal Congress reached over the weekend — seriously, this is about disaster relief, not boosting the economy — didn’t come a moment too soon. Actually, it came much too late: Crucial aid to many unemployed Americans and businesses expired months ago. But now some of that aid is back, for a while.
True, the aid will be less generous than it was in the spring and summer: $300 a week in enhanced unemployment benefits, rather than $600. But because the workers still out of a job as a result of the pandemic tended to have low earnings even before the coronavirus struck, they will, on average, be receiving something like 85 percent of their pre-Covid-19 income.
By the way, although the one-time $600 checks to a much wider group of Americans are getting much of the media coverage, they account for only a small percentage of the overall expense and are far less crucial than the unemployment benefits to keeping families afloat.
So what’s not to like about this relief package? There’s some dumb stuff, like a tax break for corporate meal expenses — fighting a deadly pandemic with three-martini lunches. But the serious problem with this deal is that economic aid will end far too soon: Enhanced unemployment benefits will last just 11 weeks. And the process by which the deal was reached has ominous implications for the future.”
“. . . . Remember, until recently Mitch McConnell showed little interest in passing any kind of relief package. And there’s no mystery about what changed his mind: It was all about the Senate runoffs in Georgia. “Kelly [Loeffler] and David [Perdue] are getting hammered” over the failure to provide aid, he told his political allies.
Once those races end on Jan. 5, McConnell’s sure to lose interest all over again. And unless Democrats win both elections, he’ll still be Senate majority leader, in a position to stand in the way of any further economic relief.”