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COVID-19

What we know about the latest plan for more COVID relief

David Brancaccio, Rose Conlon, Erika Soderstrom, and Alex Schroeder Dec 18, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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"What we really need in this package is a bridge to when the weather is warmer and the vaccines are disseminated," says Marc Goldwein, senior vice president and senior policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

What we know about the latest plan for more COVID relief

David Brancaccio, Rose Conlon, Erika Soderstrom, and Alex Schroeder Dec 18, 2020
"What we really need in this package is a bridge to when the weather is warmer and the vaccines are disseminated," says Marc Goldwein, senior vice president and senior policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images
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Because Republicans and Democrats plan to get back to negotiations Friday, we can’t tell you exactly what is in the $900 billion coronavirus relief package that might or might not coalesce in the coming hours. It won’t address funding for cash-strapped state and local governments or stop business from getting sued over their handling of the virus.

But there would be money sent to people through various routes.

Marc Goldwein, senior vice president and senior policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, spoke with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio about this, and the following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Marc Goldwein: Well, there are still ongoing negotiations, but it sounds like the [direct payment] checks portion could be $600 a person, $700 per person. The president has been asking for $1,200 to $2,000. But it sounds like the negotiators are closer to that $600 range.

David Brancaccio: And then the feds might top up the state unemployment benefits again, but just not quite at the level they were?

Goldwein: So remember back during the CARES Act, for a period of time, unemployed benefits had an extra $600 a week. That was really quite massive. This time, they’re talking about more like an extra $300 a week.

Brancaccio: And not forever. For 10 weeks, possibly?

Goldwein: First we heard 16 weeks, then we heard 10 weeks. Negotiations are ongoing, but it sounds like into March or possibly into April.

Brancaccio: You think 10 weeks is, what, maybe a little short?

Goldwein: Well, what we really need in this package is a bridge to when the weather is warmer and the vaccines are disseminated. Which, your guess is as good as mine, but I think it’s probably into April or possibly the beginning of May. Not when everyone is vaccinated, but when things are at least going in the right direction in terms of normalizing. And, so yeah, I’m looking for a package that could get us to April or May.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What are the details of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief plan?

The $1.9 trillion plan would aim to speed up the vaccine rollout and provide financial help to individuals, states and local governments and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, while advancing his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. It would also include $1,400 checks for most Americans. Get the rest of the specifics here.

What kind of help can small businesses get right now?

A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.

What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?

New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.

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