Americans are only now beginning to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that has been raging the world over for some months. Here in the states, we likely won’t see the peak of the virus’s spread for several more weeks, with an economic impact to come in waves as well.
The federal government recognizes that the people of our nation will need some assistance during this troubling time, and a number of relief bills have already been pondered within the walls of the Capitol. Today, however, the big daddy of them all finally made its way onto the President’s desk.
President Trump on Friday signed a more than $2 trillion legislative package to combat the coronavirus pandemic and send economic relief to workers and businesses squeezed by restrictions meant to stop the outbreak’s spread after the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the legislation earlier in the day.
Trump marveled at the magnitude of the aid package as he penned his name on the legislation: “I’ve never signed anything with a ‘T’ on it,” Trump quipped of the trillions of dollars of new spending.
The bill was almost sunk by Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, whose opposition to the bill was widely panned as a political stunt. For his trouble, Massie was lambasted by a vast number of politicians, including a tandem attack by Donald Trump and John Kerry that saw the former Secretary of State turning profane in his assessment.
Americans are set to receive an enormous amount of support via the legislation.
The bill finances a response with a price tag that equals half the size of the entire $4 trillion-plus annual federal budget. The $2.2 trillion estimate is the White House’s best guess of the spending it contains.
The legislation would provide one-time direct payments to Americans of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year and $2,400 to a married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child.
Unemployment insurance would be made far more generous, with $600 per week tacked onto regular state jobless payments through the end of July. States and local governments would receive $150 billion in supplemental funding to help them provide basic and emergency services during the crisis.
The legislation also establishes a $454 billion program for guaranteed, subsidized loans to larger industries in hopes of leveraging up to $4.5 trillion in lending to distressed businesses, states, and municipalities. All would be up to the Treasury Department’s discretion, though businesses controlled by Trump or immediate family members and by members of Congress would be ineligible.
There was also $150 billion devoted to the health care system, including $100 billion for grants to hospitals and other health care providers buckling under the strain of COVID-19 caseloads.
Now we can only hope that this is enough to see us through.
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