Can America wait for another stimulus bill?

Shruti Patankar, Staff Writer

Among many of President Donald Trump’s daily Twitter updates lies a crucial detail of American public policy – information about a bill that has the ability to change American lives starting from the moment it is passed.

On Oct. 6, Trump tweeted, “I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business [sic].”

The current election presents two candidates with opinions at the opposite ends of the spectrum; Biden’s administration is pushing for programs to help the people and Trump’s administration is hoping to catalyze change through helping businesses out. It is true that a bill this close to the election has the potential to destabilize Trump’s reelection campaign depending on the success of it, but the question remains if this is a bill that should be prioritized over election campaigns.

While Trump makes the conclusion that the American people can hold out on stimulus until they decide on a leader, this assumption remains costly and selfish for the average American, as the unemployment rate is currently 7.9% compared to the 3.8% record low of February. Moreover, the effects of the early summer’s economic bloodbath are still prevalent; the highest unemployment rate of 14.4% in April led to families dipping into their savings and struggling to keep food on the table or rent checks going through.

As a result of the pandemic’s immediate effects on jobs, Congress quickly designed the 2.2 trillion dollar CARES Act to try and salvage the economy and limit the impact of the pandemic on an already vulnerable American people. This bill was quickly signed by the President on March 27 in an unusually bipartisan effort, allotting almost 300 billion dollars in emergency payments to be sent to individuals. Still, the CARES Act quickly turned problematic.

First, the act created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was designed to send small businesses funds but instead allotted large sums of money to successful corporations. While the parties differed on the role of giving tax benefits to corporations, the mismanagement of the PPP clearly outlined bureaucratic flaws which only epitomized the failures of the government in adequately managing the coronavirus crisis.
Second, the bill had significant allotment issues, as people were unable to correctly file for and receive the money that they needed. The CARES Act, while well-intentioned, simply fell short of what the country needed. The American people needed a system with clear cut benefits and limited state involvement, but the complicated bureaucracy required to fulfill the ideas set forth in the CARES Act only held it back.

However, months later, the limited funds provided by the CARES Act have run out and economic recovery is plateauing. While we better understand the coronavirus now, the naive hopes the American people had at the beginning of the summer have been struck down by the harsh reality science presents us with: this pandemic is not going away. Here, the Trump Administration’s persistence in holding out on a new stimulus bill is the last step the government should take. The truth is that America needs a new stimulus bill now. No matter what happens on Nov. 3, lifelong savings will continue to run out, millions of Americans will still have no livelihood, and coronavirus tests will continue to be positive. The context of the new CARES Act is far too great to be gambled on an election.