WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 07: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Secretary of the Treasury … [+] Steven Mnuchin speak to members of the press after a meeting at the office of Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at the U.S. Capitol August 7, 2020 in Washington, DC. Negotiations between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on how to move forward on a new relief package to help people and businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t reach to a deal after the meeting today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Just when you thought a fiscal stimulus was a political no-brainer for both parties in an election year, Republicans’ push to sharply cut help to millions of jobless workers may just be the thing that stands between hard-pressed U.S. families and a potential second stimulus payment.
Heather Long of the Washington Post nicely captures the nation’s political dividing lines:
“Republicans say $600 is so high that people are opting to stay home and collect unemployment instead of going back to work. Democrats say that there aren’t nearly enough jobs for everyone who is unemployed and that it’s better to keep families out of poverty and boost the economy by providing plenty of financial support.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said Democrats, who want much large spending program to help needy families, are willing to compromise at around $2.2 trillion, or around 10% of annual gross domestic product. Republican Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, wants nothing larger than $1.3 trillion.
Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist, has been a strong proponent of large, ongoing stimulus payments to struggling American families. She argues that the consequences of not coming up with another package would be ruinous.
“It is imperative that substantial additional assistance be provided to those in need. We are facing a pandemic that threatens our well-being in countless ways, perhaps for years to come,” she writes in an new blogpost.
“Congress must do more to support all families and keep us safe.”
Sahm co-authored a study that found that as of June, when the economy still appeared to be finding a footing and before the second wave of Covid-19 cases hit, some 30% of Black families and 40% of Latinx families had lost at least one paycheck.
That compares to 20 percent of White families.
“Suffering also is widespread today, even relative to the Great Recession, especially for front-line workers, the majority of whom are Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, or Pacific Islanders,” Sahm wrote.