New York Correspondent
The US has a long and difficult winter ahead of the pandemic and the political chaos in the country will only make things worse. Yesterday, the same day that the country broke the record for hospitalizations, a group of Republican and Democratic senators presented a proposal for an economic rescue plan to unblock the legislative blockade that endangers the livelihoods of millions of people. Many of the items approved in March to rescue the economy expire at the end of the year and the White House and Congress have been unable to approve an extension during months of negotiations. It is difficult for the proposal, which would dedicate 900,000 million of the public coffers to minimize the impact of the crisis, go ahead. And a predictable increase in cases lies ahead after millions of Americans traveled over the Thanksgiving holidays and with Christmas just around the corner.
The bailout proposal was presented by half a dozen centrist senators from both parties. His plan is a set of concessions to the initial positions of Democrats – who demand a comprehensive spending plan – and Republicans – who opt for cosmetic measures. Proposes an unemployment benefit of $ 300 per month -half of the 600 that the Democrats have defended-, 160,000 million for state and local governments -a concession for the Democrats, although they demanded a much higher amount-, 288,000 million for SMEs-from which the extension of a wage protection plan- and additional items for transportation, hospitals, colleges or student loans. The plan does not include another shipment of checks of up to $ 1,200, as was done in the spring, something that both Trump and the leader of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, were betting on.
It is a minimum agreement, well below what many Democrats demand and more ambitious than what a large part of the Republicans could accept. In America’s polarized political climate., it is difficult for him to survive. This is despite the fact that on the day after Christmas twelve million Americans will be left without the financial aid with which they have carried on in recent months.
“The economic prospects are extraordinarily uncertain”, acknowledged yesterday the president of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, in an appearance in Congress, in which he defended the approval of some type of aid. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said any package should be “focused on a few points” and proposed an amount of $ 300 billion, not enough for Democrats.
The approval of any stimulus plan is also complicated by the moment of transition between Administrations. Trump, who unsuccessfully negotiated with Democrats in the summer and before the election to expand the aid package, now seems disinterested, with all the attention and effort put into fighting the result of the ballot box. Biden doesn’t have much leeway until he gets to the White House on January 20. Yesterday, in the presentation of his economic team, he defended that the US needs a “robust” plan against the economic crisis of the COVID, but also recognized that in this period, with an outgoing president, the urgent thing is to approve at least one package modest as a “beginning.”
“Help is on the way,” Biden said in his speech, although the millions left without help after Christmas need a legislative deal, more than good words from the president-elect.