The $2 trillion CARES Act passed during the height of coronavirus shutdowns to keep unemployed Americans afloat are set to expire this week (or soon).
Policymakers on all sides face pressure to pass another major federal stimulus bill to extend help to millions of Americans who lost their jobs and still have not returned to work.
Congress is up against the clock. Both houses will go on its annual August recess at the end of the week. Both sides have a few days to come together to decide whether to allocate new funds for benefits that will end this weekend.
Here are 4 COVID relief benefits that are running out of time:
- $600 unemployment benefit. This benefit turned out to be controversial for discouraging workers from going back to work because they earn more now with the extra benefit than they did pre-COVID.
- Moratorium on evictions. Renters had been able to stay in their apartments rent-free if they lived in a home with federally backed mortgages–estimated to be about one-third of American renters–until the ban on evictions expired on Friday, July 25. Renters living
- Moratorium on foreclosures. Homeowners and renters living in single-family homes have until August 31 before the ban on foreclosures and evictions comes to an end as does loan forgiveness for homeowners with FHA-insured loans.
- Student loan forbearance. Federal student loan payments have been suspended through September 30, 2020.
In addition, at the end of the year unemployment for freelancers and independent contractors, who traditionally do not qualify, will end as will penalty-free retirement withdrawals on some accounts.
Dozens of states and local governments have their own eviction moratoriums that may extend beyond the expired federal ban.
Republicans are set to release their proposed stimulus package today, which many conservatives worry may be too generous especially if it does not correct the unemployment loophole that rewards those who skip out on work.
As we have said, again and again, economic stimulus during a national crisis such as this pandemic may be needed to stem the hardship brought on to American families, due to no fault of their own. This is not unemployment due to cyclical rises and falls in the economy, but an unexpected national emergency.
However, any stimulus Congress doles out should be targeted, temporary and flexible. It should go to those who actually need it, not be used to irresponsibly expand government spending. It should be a short-term boost not a new entitlement that discourages people from going back to work or being independent. It should be flexible enough to meet the economic realities on the ground.
Another massive coronavirus stimulus package may intend to help but could lead to long-term dependency and debt homeowners and taxpayers cannot afford to pay.