- Broad and near-universal support in the US for another coronavirus relief bill — which includes funding to provide most Americans with a second stimulus check — continues to grow.
- A number of new press reports suggest the incoming Biden administration may prefer a compromise bill as opposed to the passage of nothing at all, which is counter to the Democratic position of recent months.
- Regardless, no progress toward a new stimulus bill is expected before the Biden inauguration in January.
This may be our first indication of the kind of pragmatic, meet-in-the-middle style of governance that a Biden administration will favor, once the President-elect himself is sworn into office come January 20 and he gets down to the business of tackling challenges like the economy and the coronavirus pandemic.
The issue is over a new stimulus bill, and the possibility of its inclusion of funding to provide millions of Americans with a second stimulus check. New reporting from Politico and The New York Times claims that Biden is leaning on top Democrats in private to accept the hard line that Senate Republicans are taking when it comes to a new coronavirus relief package with a much lower price tag than House Democrats have been hoping for. At the same time, Biden has been publicly calling on Congress to finalize the House-passed HEROES Act. (Also on Monday, a Biden spokesperson shot down the stories saying Biden is amenable to a smaller stimulus package if it means getting something done rather than nothing. But you can certainly go down quite the rabbit hole parsing that spokesman’s words, though we digress).
Today’s Best Deal
One thing that would be pretty extraordinary about Democrats caving to Republican intransigence over the price tag of the next stimulus bill is the fact that it would represent top Democrats contradicting themselves in a pretty major way. As Politico’s Jake Sherman noted on Monday, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said for months that no stimulus deal is better than a smaller one (watch her struggle to explain that position to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer here), so caving on that position would not only be a repudiation of the past several months — but it would also beg the question, why couldn’t you have done this same thing months ago? Americans have been desperate for economic relief to offset the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic for months, while Congress has essentially done nothing as a result of gridlock.
overwhelming majority of Americans (80%) — including majorities of basically every major demographic — say they believe more covid fiscal aid is necessary https://t.co/2bu58UnldD pic.twitter.com/TRjNDqrgg8
— Catherine Rampell (@crampell) November 23, 2020
At any rate, here’s where we are at the moment regarding a new stimulus package:
First, because Congress has waited so long after the passage in March of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act to pass a second bill, a new Goldman Sachs estimate is that Congress will need to pass something along the lines of a $700 billion stimulus, at least.
However, don’t expect that to happen before Biden’s inauguration.
Even so, a number of aid programs stemming from the pandemic are set to either expire or run out of funding by the end of next month, which will only compound the dire situation already facing cash-strapped small businesses that have seen customer demand collapse, to say nothing of the millions of laid-off workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic.
According to a research note from Stifel chief Washington policy strategist Brian Gardner, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “will likely re-propose a plan he pushed in October. The McConnell plan was for $500 billion and included additional Paycheck Protection Plan funds.”
Indeed, something certainly needs to be done soon. In a recent conference call with analysts, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said it is “imperative” that lawmakers pass additional stimulus. “The increase in cases will put more pressure on small businesses that have been heavily impacted by the pandemic,” McMillon said.