Congress has finally reached a coronavirus stimulus deal, but many call the $600 direct payment negotiated in the legislation a slap in the face to struggling American families who are finding it increasingly difficult to pay bills and avoid eviction.
“A $600 stimulus check is like receiving a $10 gift card for a store where the cheapest item found is $1,000,” said George McClendon, a member of the American Mathematical Society.
“The stimulus is politicians destroying the economy with garbage policies while they flout the rules and party then offering to extract nearly 1 trillion dollars from working-class people, give them back $600 each and give the overwhelming majority to big businesses,” tweeted Tim Pool, a filmmaker, musician and journalist.
Republican and Democratic negotiators reached a new $900 billion stimulus deal Sunday. The package is far lighter than the more than $3 billion CARES Act, which was signed into law earlier this year and provided direct payments of $1,200 for individuals who made $75,000 or less and $2,400 for couples who earned $150,000 or less. The CARES Act also provided an additional $600 per dependent child.
The latest bill, which many expect President Donald Trump to sign, contains direct payments of $600 per adult and $600 per dependent child. Though lawmakers have not finalized the language, it’s believed those payments would be based on the same provisions of the CARES Act.
The bill also provides $300 in weekly enhancements of unemployment benefits — down from $600 in the CARES Act.
It reopens the small business loan program, provides aid for schools and childcare, extends eviction protection and offers nutrition assistance aid.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will be extended with another $284 billion of forgivable loans. Reportedly, some of the funding will be set aside for small businesses through lenders such as Minority Depository Institutions, following criticisms that the first round of PPP loans overlooked many minority- and women-owned businesses.
According to a bill summary, the PPP program will also expand eligibility for nonprofits and local newspapers, TV and radio broadcasters.
Another $20 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans will be set aside for businesses in low-income communities. In comparison, $15 billion will be directed toward live venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions.
“The stimulus package is inadequate, but a necessary compromise. It just underscores the importance of [the Georgia Senate race] to get another package in early 2021,” former Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) noted on his podcast.
Following the announcement of the stimulus agreement, many on social media quickly pointed out what other countries have done for struggling citizens.
France agreed to provide $7,575 per month in direct payments to its citizens, while German residents receive $7,326 monthly during the pandemic.
Demark ($3,288 per month), the United Kingdom ($3,084), Australia ($1,993), Ireland ($1,793) and Canada ($1,433) each provide its citizens with monthly stimulus payouts.
The $600 stimulus check the new bill provides for U.S. residents is a one-time payout.
“The $600 stimulus,” opinion writer Ed Neller tweeted. “Did you know that a first-term congressman earns $174,000? That means they earn over $3,000 per week. And they decided $600 is sufficient to live on for months. See the problem here? Anyone? Anyone?”