WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress has scheduled votes Monday on a $900 billion relief bill including direct payments to Americans.
When Pandemic Panic enables government officials to shutdown or sandbag large swaths of people’s jobs and businesses for months on end, those people rightly demand to know how they’re going to pay their bills and feed their families. For too many, doing so is impossible if they must submit to the never-ending dictates of sanctimonious politicians speaking of sacrifice for common good.
And, conveniently, ‘the government’ is all too happy to running the printing presses, spend more of our future tax dollars in offering a band-aid for bullet wound while acting like our savior. Government saving us from government.
The relief is to be combined with a $1.4 trillion spending bill funds federal agencies, thereby avoiding a government shutdown, an embarrassingly perennial threat in Congress’s budgeting patterns.
So in addition to financial assistance to small businesses, select industries (with good lobbyists), individuals, the government will replenish itself with a whole lot of pork ($4 billion to NYC transit authority?).
The direct payments to Americans will reportedly be checks $600, and parents will also receive $600 per child. Original packages did not include direct payments, but an unusual trio of Sen. Bernie Sanders (S-VT) Rep. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and President Donald Trump fought to include more cash hand outs. Another 10 weeks of $300 ‘enhanced unemployment benefits’ is included as well.
Additionally, another $284 billion is going to replenish the Payroll Protection Program, a vital lifeline for many small businesses suffering under government mandates but also a massive source of fraud. Businesses that already received one loan can get a second one under the new terms of the package, with some of the lot luckily being reserved for the smallest businesses and community lenders.
About $12 billion from the Treasury will go to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions, financial institutions that largely cater to minorities. (So woke)
The eviction moratorium, which was set to expire at the end of the year, will also be extended through January. It includes $25 billion for rental assistance to families facing eviction.
More than $30 billion is earmarked for COVID vaccine distribution.
More than $82 billion will go to schools and colleges to help them reopen classrooms and mitigate virus transmission. Making sure schools stay open is probably one of the more important things to address as families and kids struggle with the virtual education disaster.
One of the most underrated positive outcomes of the protracted negotiations is the elimination of massive and unprecedented expansions to the Federal Reserve’s lending authority granted in the CARES Act.
With the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility, the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility, the Main Street Lending Program and the Municipal Credit Facility, the world’s preeminent central bank had effectively taken over the financing of capital markets as a backstop for Wall Street. It is a dangerous marriage of Fed and the U.S. Treasury that embedded central bank economic planning and American citizens should remain wary of this trend.
Luckily, in the new package, the four of those facilities at least will now be eliminated and remaining funds repurposed.
All told, the Monday package will reach into the trillions, as the spending records are shattered once again. Even so, in the months long struggle to approve more enormous relief packages, neither Republicans nor Democrats had their rathers. The former wanted liability protections for businesses, while the latter wanted massive federal cash injections to ailing liberal states.
The election served as a big point around which the partisans pivoted in the split congress, which led to a couple of one day stop-gap bills to get over the weekend hump without a shutdown. Alas, here we are the week of Christmas, and Uncle Sam is trying to make up for shutting us down in a authoritarian panic all year with checks to cash now, but will pay for later. Such is the way of D.C.