Congress Should be Mindful of COVID Bill Goals
Debates about the COVID-19 bill goals have occupied Congress for weeks. The debates have largely centered on two things. First, there’s disagreement about whether an increase to the minimum wage should be included in the bill. And second, there’s disagreement about what the income threshold should be for the stimulus checks.
As Congress settles these debates, it would serve our legislators on both sides well to remember its goals for the COVID-19 relief bill. The first is to stimulate the economy so we don’t face a recession or depression. And the second is to reduce the hardship being shouldered by Americans who have lost their incomes.
Stimulating the economy
When the first two stimulus checks were issued, they came without strings attached. Americans whose income was under the threshold were issued a check and were not told what that money was to be used on. As a result, millions of Americans tucked the money away in savings or used it to pay off debt.
For Americans in precarious or dire financial situations, these checks were spent on necessities. But for the millions of Americans who did not need help paying their basic bills, the government should have issued guidelines on how to best stimulate the economy with the gift they were given.
When new stimulus checks are issued, Americans should be instructed on the best use of those funds. Millions of people will not heed the instructions, but others will gratefully accept what the government has given them and do their best to use it for the common good.
Minimizing the burden on the poor
For millions of Americans, the pandemic has been unpleasant, scary, and disruptive. But for some, it has led to financial ruin. Small business owners, restauranteurs, and people in many lines of work have lost their jobs and businesses. Poverty rates are creeping up as these victims of the pandemic spend down their savings and run out of options.
Congress should pass a bill that will help these people get back on their feet and prevent permanent financial ruin. It’s the right thing to do and their duty as elected officials. But it’s also the best thing for the country. Low unemployment rates lead to a host of good outcomes for our economy, which is the goal of the COVID relief bill.