Right now, Congress is deeply divided about…well, everything. As America works to navigate its way through the coronavirus pandemic, we need our elected officials to rise to the challenge and put programs in place to help people until this is over. Now is not the time for partisan politics.
In May, Democrats advanced a $3 billion proposal for a fifth round of pandemic relief. Republicans came to the table last week currently floating a $1 billion plan. The two are different, no doubt, both in size and scope, but what do American’s really need? Is it more direct payments? Expanded unemployment? Business relief? Probably all of it, but until our lawmakers come together and make a good faith effort to really understand the magnitude of the problem, and how it is affecting those on Main Street, it is difficult to understand how to move forward.
While the additional $600 expanded federal unemployment benefit seems to be a sticking point, let’s not forget that that additional money is also helping to support the larger economy, which relies on consumption as its economic engine. Taking that away—either in part or in whole—will not only affect the individual, but also the communities in which they live.
We are in the middle of a pandemic where it is estimated that one out of every six jobs have been lost across the country. Those jobs will not be coming back anytime soon, so the idea that there is a job available for everyone who wants one is not true. Continuing enhanced unemployment funds in some capacity is necessary to keep the economy moving.
As lawmakers struggle to reach a deal, agree on a price tag for continued relief or balk at the suggestions of those across the aisle, real people are suffering. More than four months into the pandemic, there are still people who have yet to access unemployment benefits for which they are eligible. There are also families and individuals who have yet to receive the first round of direct payments. While our congressional delegation may understand this in theory, very few lawmakers live paycheck to paycheck, unlike roughly 78 percent of their constituents.
It takes time to reach an agreement of such magnitude and no one expects it to happen overnight. However, we need Congress to keep working and to put Americans first.
Or, to put it another way familiar to Patriots fans: Do your job!