COVID-19

The Trump administration considers ways to help the travel industry

Kimberly Adams Mar 11, 2020
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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, center, emphasized that the Trump administration's economic response to COVID-19 should not be considered a bailout. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

The Trump administration considers ways to help the travel industry

Kimberly Adams Mar 11, 2020
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, center, emphasized that the Trump administration's economic response to COVID-19 should not be considered a bailout. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
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There are lots of options being batted back and forth in Washington for the next stage in responding to the spread of COVID-19, including the extension of support to some of the industries most affected by the pandemic.

Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took great pains to emphasize that the administration’s plans to provide emergency assistance to airline, hotel and cruise industries do not amount to a “bailout”. Which makes sense, because bailout brings to mind what these market conditions already have everyone talking about — the 2008 financial crisis.

When the financial system was in turmoil in 2008, it was pretty easy to see which industries caused the problems and which were suffering.

“And this, of course, was concentrated last time to the financial industry, the housing industry, ultimately, the automakers were also involved,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

And so they got federal government bailouts, or loans, regulatory relief — whatever you want to call it.

“The assistance that was given to the banking and automobile industries during the 2008 financial crisis came under the heading of the Troubled Asset Relief Program,” said Erin Lockwood, assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Irvine.

How well that infamous TARP bailout worked is still being debated, and lawmakers are now trying to decide if industry bailouts will help this time around. Joshua Sewell, senior policy analyst at Taxpayers for Common Sense, thinks it’s too early to know.

“You need to stop the disease before you try to recover from the effects,” he said.

Right now, health officials are scrambling to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to prepare for an anticipated spike in patients and deaths.

“If this moves beyond a stock market crisis into affecting people’s take-home pay, their inability to have the kids go to school, then you should consider ways of easing the pain for people in what we know is the real economy,” Sewell said.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Which businesses are allowed to reopen right now? And which businesses are actually doing so?

As a patchwork of states start to reopen, businesses that fall into a gray area are wondering when they can reopen. In many places, salons are still shuttered. Bars are mostly closed, too, although restaurants may be allowed to ramp up, depending on the state. “It’s kind of all over the place,” said Elizabeth Milito of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Will you be able to go on vacation this summer?

There’s no chance that this summer will be a normal season for vacations either in the U.S. or internationally. But that doesn’t mean a trip will be impossible. People will just have to be smart about it. That could mean vacations closer to home, especially with gas prices so low. Air travel will be possible this summer, even if it is a very different experience than usual.

When does the expanded COVID-19 unemployment insurance run out?

The CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March, authorized extra unemployment payments, increasing the amount of money, and broadening who qualifies. The increased unemployment benefits have an expiration date — an extra $600 per week the act authorized ends on July 31.

You can find answers to more questions here.

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