Politics holding up relief measure

Partisan politics continues to delay enactment of a new coronavirus relief measure in Congress. Regardless of your political leanings, we know that is hurting millions of Americans.

Even emergency action taken by the White House has been affected. After negotiators in Congress deadlocked over a new relief bill last month, the president authorized release of some money to keep augmented unemployment benefits flowing to those who have been laid off due to the epidemic-related business slowdown.

Under the plan, those who qualify can receive $300 a week in addition to normal unemployment benefits. But there is a catch: They also must be receiving at least $100 a week in aid paid for by the states where they live.

While some states have been able to ensure that the $100 level is met, others have not. For low-wage workers who do not qualify for $100 or more in state benefits, that means no $300 from Washington.

Obviously, then, some states need additional federal support for unemployment compensation programs. It could be included in a new federal relief package.

But politics continues to delay an agreement on such a measure.

Both Republicans and Democrats should agree on a stripped-down relief bill in the $1 trillion range. It should include funding ONLY for steps related directly to the epidemic. Aiding states with large debt problems not linked to COVID-19 should not be part of the compromise bill.

Surely a bare-bones bill providing help to those who need it most can be agreed upon.

Or are the many Americans who have lost faith in this government right to be pessimistic — and worried?


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