As Americans enter the giving season, with Christmas and other holidays right around the corner, economists are ultra-curious as to what this festive few weeks could bring to the world’s fiscal fertility.
This is the time of year when consumer confidence determines the outlook of the entire kit-and-caboodle. We expect that those who’ve been squirreling away their coin over the last few months will blow it out in a big way come Christmastime, and the economic forecasts of the entire world often rely on this bit of back-end sandbagging.
But fears of the economic devastation that COVID-19 is still reaping, along with the uncertainty of further governmental relief from this dark period of monetary misery, has made the yuletide outlook spotty at best.
Now, a group of bipartisan lawmakers are looking to break the impasse on COVID stimulus with a slimmed-down bill they’re bringing to the Capitol.
The roughly $908 billion proposal includes $288 billion in small business aid such as Paycheck Protection Program loans, $160 billion in state and local government relief and $180 billion to fund a $300 per week supplemental unemployment benefit through March, according to a draft framework. It would put $16 billion into vaccine distribution, testing and contact tracing, funnel $82 billion into education, put $45 billion into transportation and allocate funds for rental assistance, child care and broadband.
The proposal would not include another direct payment to most Americans. It also would offer temporary federal protection from coronavirus-related lawsuits — a provision Democrats have opposed — while states determine their own laws.
This is meant as a mere stepping stone according to some.
Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, a member of the congressional group that has discussed a new relief plan, earlier called it an “interim package” to provide support until President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January.
“If there’s one thing I’m hearing uniformly it’s: ‘Congress, do not leave town for the holidays leaving the country and the economy adrift with all these initial CARES [Act] programs running out,’” Warner told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
Without substantial virus relief, some economists have warned that a massive wave of evictions and bankruptcies could be looming just over the horizon – another concern that isn’t expressly addressed in this legislation.
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