In The News Quiz February 15, 2021
“COVID Economic Relief…and Partisan Politics”
As COVID’s frightening spread continued across the U.S. last March, Congress passed a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus package—the largest in U.S. history. Hospitals and clinics responding to the pandemic; people who lost jobs because of the virus; state and local governments pouring funds into public health and safety; businesses from airlines and bars to restaurants and zoos that had to close temporarily; schools and universities spending millions to protect teachers/staff and pivot to remote instruction: all benefited from this so-called CARES Act.
With the pandemic still raging in 2021, the new Biden Administration—working with narrow Democratic majorities in House and Senate—proposed a $1.9 trillion stimulus focused on financial support for low-income Americans and businesses/non-profits/governments hardest hit by COVID. Ten Republican senators, dubbing themselves the “Mod Squad,” responded by proposing a $619 billion package. Intense discussions continue around how best to provide support: help hourly workers, via a $15 minimum wage? Extend unemployment benefits through September? (Republicans propose June.) Support school reopening and child care? (Both parties agree—but the Administration’s plan would provide tens of billions of dollars more.)
In a hallmark of our polarized age, stimulus politics attracts more media coverage than the policy details. Will the Biden economic team, and Democrats in Congress, negotiate with Republicans—some of whom continue to question the presidential election’s legitimacy? These twin battles, over politics and policy, will swirl for at least another month: Democrats hope to have a bill ready for the president’s signature by mid-March.
Read the following articles that detail some of these issues:
- Erica Werner & Jeff Stein, “Senate vote paves way for passage of Biden’s economic relief plan” (2021)
- Ella Nilsen, “Democrats want to go big on Covid-19 stimulus while they have the chance” (2021)