Struggling Families and Economy Need Robust, Bipartisan COVID Relief Agreement
The only way to adequately meet the needs of a reeling economy, struggling families, and cash-strapped states and localities is for President Trump and Congress to come to agreement on a robust, bipartisan economic relief package.
Tens of Millions Are Facing Hardship
- Tens of millions of people have lost their jobs, and millions report that their households did not get enough to eat, are behind on their rent or mortgage, or both.
- Nearly 30 million adults reported that their household didn’t get enough to eat for the week ending July 21, according to Census estimates.
- Nearly 15 million renters (more than 1 in 5) reported that they were behind on rent for the same week.
- Some 19 million children (more than 1 in 4) live in a household that is behind on rent or mortgage payments, isn’t getting enough to eat, or both, based on Census estimates from late June and July.
"The impacts of the pandemic and economic fallout have been widespread, but they are particularly prevalent among Black, Latino, Indigenous, and immigrant households."
The impacts of the pandemic and economic fallout have been widespread, but they are particularly prevalent among Black, Latino, Indigenous, and immigrant households.
- For about 42 percent of children in Black households and 36 percent in Hispanic households, the household was behind on the rent or mortgage or not getting enough to eat, compared to 20 percent in both white and Asian households.
- The rate was 34 percent for children in households with an American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, or multiracial respondent.
These disproportionate impacts reflect harsh, longstanding inequities — often stemming from structural racism — in education, employment, housing, and health care that the current crisis is exacerbating. Without robust measures to provide relief and address the growing hardship, these disparities will widen.
States Face Massive Budget Shortfalls
Policymakers must provide significant fiscal relief to states and localities. Without it, states will continue laying off or furloughing teachers and health care workers and cutting education, health care, and other vital services to meet their balanced-budget requirements.
States face estimated budgets shortfalls of $555 billion through 2022, and localities face additional shortfalls that could total about half of that. These shortfalls — sizable in nearly every state — are already driving harmful cuts to education and other services as well as layoffs and furloughs of large numbers of state and local workers. Moreover, the shortfalls could grow even worse in the face of recent health and economic trends. The CARES Act aid provided $150 billion for states, localities, tribes, and territories, but states have already allocated three-quarters of it.
Robust, Bipartisan Package Needed to Address Urgent Priorities
Given the high unemployment and deep hardship that millions of people are enduring, and the enormous fiscal challenges that states and localities face, policymakers must enact a robust economic relief package that includes:
- Funding for testing, contract tracing, and other critical measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.
- Food assistance for millions who aren’t getting enough to eat, including students missing out school breakfast and lunch.
- Adequate levels of unemployment benefits and additional weeks of benefits for people who have lost their jobs.
- Extension of the federal eviction ban paired with adequate help paying rent for millions at risk of eviction and homelessness
- Funding for schools to reopen safely or operate effectively until they can.
- Fiscal relief for states, including additional Medicaid funding, to avoid more layoffs and cuts in education, health care, and other critical state services.
The President’s recent executive actions will fall dramatically short of responding effectively to the enormous need across the country. The White House should return to the negotiating table and do what’s needed to reach the robust, bipartisan agreement that our nation so badly needs.
August 11, 2020