The new bipartisan economic stimulus legislation — known as the CARES Act — contains significant new resources to help states address massive, immediate budget problems due to COVID-19, though states will almost certainly need more aid in coming months.
CARES Act Includes Essential Measures to Respond to Public Health, Economic Crises, But More Will Be Needed
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which has passed both the Senate and the House, includes important provisions to mitigate the sharp economic decline already unfolding. But policymakers’ efforts should not end with this bill. They will need to do substantially more in subsequent bills to address urgent needs in areas like health coverage, food assistance for struggling families, and state fiscal relief.
This week at CBPP, we focused on the economy, state budgets and taxes, health, food assistance, and the federal budget.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which President Trump is expected to sign soon, doesn’t expand benefits or eligibility under SNAP (food stamps). Policymakers must address this limitation in their next stimulus measure, both to help the growing number of families struggling to afford food in the pandemic and because SNAP is one of the fastest, most effective forms of economic stimulus.
The new bipartisan economic stimulus legislation — known as the CARES Act — contains significant new resources to help states address their massive, immediate budget problems due to COVID-19, though states will almost certainly need more aid in coming months.
The bipartisan Senate COVID-19 package includes important provisions that will help mitigate the sharp economic decline now starting. The House should pass it and then Congress should begin work on another bill to address critical missing pieces.
The emerging bipartisan agreement on the Senate’s economic emergency legislation contains very significant new resources to help states address their massive, immediate budget problems due to COVID-19, though it almost certainly doesn’t go far enough. Congress will need to come back and provide more help to states and families affected by the crisis, as some policymakers have already called for.
Here are the CBPP statements, papers, blog posts, and tweet threads to date on issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic; we’ll update this list as we issue more analyses.
CBPP and Niskanen Center: Joint Recommendations to Strengthen Senate Republican COVID-19 Economic Response Proposal
The Senate GOP package includes some important proposals to help address the current public health and economic crisis, but falls well short in a number of areas:
Commentary: At Its 10th Anniversary, the ACA Is Helping to Address Our Public Health and Economic Crisis
Now ten years old, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made health insurance and health care more available and affordable for tens of millions of people — and it’s bolstered the country’s ability to deal with both the public health crisis and the recession that’s likely to result.
Stimulus payments need to reach as many low-, moderate-, and middle-income households as possible to soften the COVID-19 pandemic’s financial blow to individuals and shore up the economy. That means that lawmakers must not only make low- and moderate-income people eligible for the full payments; they must also ensure that the government delivers the payments without imposing new requirements on individuals to file tax returns or fill out and submit other complex paperwork.
For more information, see Report: Some States Much Better Prepared Than Others for Recession.
This week at CBPP, we focused on the economy, the federal budget, federal taxes, state budgets and taxes, food assistance, and health.
Amid the frenzy in Washington to enact broad stimulus legislation, Senate Republicans are also proposing to address a tax issue that far predates the current economic emergency: an error in the 2017 tax law that affects the restaurant and retail industries. If policymakers plan to help retailers and restaurant owners by fixing the error — and including the fix in the emerging stimulus legislation — they also should take the opportunity to provide much-needed help for the millions of low-wage workers who wait the tables and sell the products in those establishments.
Let’s back up.
The Senate Republican proposal for a third bill to address the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis is woefully inadequate to meet the extraordinary challenges now facing the nation. Its centerpiece — direct cash payments to households — would miss the lowest-income households entirely and give millions of low- and moderate-income households much less than those who are better off.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides broad flexibility for USDA and states to adapt SNAP to address people’s food needs during the current public health emergency.
States don’t have much control over the depth of an economic downturn, but they do have control over state policies to prepare for and respond to recessions.
Medicaid Agencies Should Prioritize New Applications, Continuity of Coverage During COVID-19 Emergency
States facing increased demands on their Medicaid programs due to COVID-19 should prioritize enrolling people in Medicaid and making sure they can stay enrolled. The new Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires states to take some steps in this direction, but they can and should do more.
Given the magnitude of the crisis, now is not the time for policymakers to worry about raising deficits and debt as they consider what steps to take.
An aggressive policy response is essential to mitigate the sharp drop in economic activity and increase in unemployment that are already underway.