A $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package is impressive, to say the least.
But, it's also financially foolish if not done precisely.
This proposal, if approved by a Democrat-controlled Congress and President Joe Biden, would be the third since the novel coronavirus' advent.
Biden promised $2,000 in federal COVID-19 payouts to all Americans during the January special election in Georgia that decided U.S. Senate control. The Democrats won, and they hold a one-vote advantage with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaker.
Since then, the potential distribution for individual Americans has dropped to $1,400. If dispersed, this would follow $1,200 and $600 disbursements in 2020.
Still, it's greatly appreciated by those who lost jobs and income as a result of the virus. For those who didn't, it wasn't necessary. In many cases, businesses and industry relied on the federal Payroll Protection Program, which preserved jobs and prevented a further and frightful collapse in the economy.
The federal government extended the PPP, and Congress is debating the relief package. Lawmakers, rightly, are discussing how to limit payouts to the people whose income is affected by the response to the virus.
It would be appropriate to direct the relief to the people who lost jobs because of the response. This would eliminate everyone who experienced no change in their pay or financial benefits.
Additionally, lawmakers would be wise to eliminate all of the largess in the relief package that has nothing to do with the COVID-19 situation. The American people — whether Democrat, Republican, otherwise affiliated or unaffiliated — recognize that for what it is. This isn't the time for political party favors.
Congress did well to respond immediately to the people's predicament at the onset of the virus. Time has provided information allowing it to narrow the assistance to long-time workers who, through no fault of their own, are encountering financial ruin.
Congress did this with the PPP, requiring a specific percentage of revenue loss in 2020 in order to be eligible for the latest opportunity.
A similar approach to the relief package would be prudent.