MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The good news for people in need during the pandemic is that both parties seem to support a stimulus check, some unemployment assistance, housing and possibly student loan relief.
But the trillion-dollar question still remains — when?
While there seems to be agreement in Washington that more financial relief is needed, a political chasm separates the House and the Senate, which still can’t agree on how much, or when it’ll get done.
“I think we’ll end up getting something resolved, but it won’t be until September,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis). “(Mitch) McConnell doesn’t plan to bring the Senate back. They’re on vacation.”
And they’re miles apart. House Democrats want to spend $3 trillion on aid, but Senate Republicans say $1 trillion.
Money that would end up going to teachers, sanitation workers, policemen, firemen, EMTs, folks that work on the front lines and hazardous positions won’t be getting money in the meantime, because the cities have lost a lot of revenue, Cohen said.
But even with his contempt for the president, the congressman is confident that many Mid-Southerners will get a stimulus check in the mail.
“That’s part of our Heroes Act,” Cohen said. “And it’s also something that the president is for. He showed he was for it last time. He put his signature on the check. He was so much for it, that he put his signature on the check.”
Jamein Cunningham, a professor of economics at the University of Memphis, said he knows there will be consequences if Congress fails to act.
People’s bills and rent will still be due, but they won’t be getting paid. That could affect business too.
“You’re talking about cutting jobs, loss of opportunities,” Cunningham said.
Cohen said even though the aid money would be deficit spending.
“It’s a good time to do deficit spending because interest rates are about zero. But no, it’s financially — we are very much in debt. We’re going to see inflation in the future,” he said.
Cunningham said the government would have to restructure debt later to deal with the deficits during the economic fallout from the pandemic.
But under these circumstances, many are ready to kick the can down the road, believing now is not the time to worry about federal government spending.