With the latest, $900 billion covid-stimulus deal now done (which unless the Democrats win the Georgia Senate runoffs in 2 weeks will be the final covid stimulus bill according to Goldman), attention turns to what’s actually in it.
First: the good news – the bill will include a fresh round of benefits for small businesses as well as the usual one-time pittance for peasants, amounting to a $600 check. Here are the key components:
- Direct payments of $600 to most Americans ($600 per adult and $600 per child); the amounts decrease for individuals with more than $75,000 in income and $150,000 for couples.
- $300-per-week in enhanced unemployment benefits through March. Expiring programs for gig workers and the long-term unemployed also would continue.
- $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program that provides
grantsforgivable loans to small businesses, arguably the most successful and also most abused program of the CARES act. This represents the bulk of the $325 billion the bill puts toward small businesses
- $82 billion for education: includes $54.3 billion for K-12 schools and $22.7 billion for colleges; governors would get $4.05 billion to spend on education aid at their discretion. For-profit colleges would get $908 million for grants to students, and another $1.7 billion would be set aside for historically black colleges, tribal colleges, minority-serving institutions
- $10 billion for child care.
- 15 billion in grants for theater operators and owners of small performance venues.
- $25 billion in rental assistance and an extension of the moratorium on evictions
- $13 billion in funds for food-stamp and child-nutrition benefits.
- $30 billion for the procurement and distribution of a Covid vaccine, as well as testing and tracing.
- $1.8 billion in tax credits for businesses to provide paid leave.
Of course as with any fiscal stimulus that is nearly $1 trillion, there will be lots of pork and other shady components, thrown into the bill. One such questionable kicker is the $15 billion in payroll assistance to airlines that will in theory allow them to return more than 32,000 furloughed workers to their payrolls through March 31, according Reuters. In reality, since there is no enforcement clause, we wouldn’t be surprised if many of the airlines continue to quietly layoff employees and use the funds to repurchase stock.