The House of Representatives on April 23 approved the latest $484 billion Coronavirus relief package, passed earlier in the week by the Senate. The legislation received overwhelming support, passing on a 388 – 5 vote with one representative, Justin Amash (I-MI), voting “present.” President Trump received word of the bill’s passage during the daily Coronavirus Task Force press briefing. “At a time when many Americans are enduring significant economic challenges, this bill will help small businesses to keep millions of workers on the payroll,” the president said.
There is already talk of a phase four to this frantic spending of money the country does not have. Once again, congressional Democrats are expected to push for the inclusion of items unrelated to the pandemic, such as measures alleged to ensure “election integrity,” according to Axios.
Yes, The Cure is Worse Than the Disease
A massive spike in unemployment, combined with the inflation that is now inevitable, makes a swift economic recovery unlikely. Everything now hinges upon how quickly people can get back to work – and how quickly governors are willing to open up their states. Roughly one in six Americans have been added to the jobless claims tally over the past five weeks – and that may well turn out to be the most dangerous epidemic the country has faced in decades.
Federal and state government workers have so far been mostly spared the hammering taken by private-sector workers, but even that has begun to change. The state of Michigan recently announced that it would temporarily lay off around 3,000 employees.
While some appear to believe that the current restrictions can and should remain in place indefinitely, others are seeing the longer-term damage being done not only to the economy but to society in general. Fox News’ Brit Hume recently made just such an observation during an interview with the network’s Shannon Bream:
“I think it’s time to consider the possibility, Shannon, that this lockdown – as opposed to the more moderate mitigation efforts – is a colossal public policy calamity. That the damage to the economy – businesses that I see, businesses are closing. Many may not reopen. Those jobs will be lost. Those businesses will be lost. Those incomes will be lost.”
Describing how the lives of America’s children have been disrupted by the restrictions imposed upon normal activity, Hume painted a bleak picture of the future: “They don’t have school. They can’t play with their friends, even outdoors. All these things are accumulating. They’re not going to get better, Shannon. They’re going to get worse with time. And, as I say, we may not recover from many of these losses for a very long time, if ever.”
The constantly-evolving situation could set up an interesting – and perhaps alarming – dichotomy between red and blue states, as the former push forward with phased reopenings and the latter extend their current restrictions. Georgia, for example, is on the cusp of reopening while Michigan is extending its shutdown until mid-May. Ultimately, of course, many state governors may find themselves with little option but to ease restrictions that Americans increasingly see as heavy-handed, if not downright unconstitutional.
As Liberty Nation recently noted: “[T]he wheels are coming off the stay-at-home cart, and the ultimate saviors of the economy will likely turn out to be the American people, who are ushering in, by sheer force of will, the reopening of America.”
While the focus, over the past couple of days, has been on phase three of Coronavirus-related financial assistance, the House also passed a bill – along party lines – which establishes a special committee to oversee the spending of relief money. Unfortunately, in the age of Trump, “oversight” almost always means investigation, recrimination, and political maneuvering. The nation may recover from COVID-19, but Washington, D.C., is still as sick as ever.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.