Most Americans want stimulus checks, reject GOP's 'red line' on liability protections, poll shows
With Congress bogged down on the next aid deal, Americans know what they want: a second round of stimulus checks, please. Student loan liability protection and forbearance can wait.
Two in three Americans said stimulus checks were the top provision of the next relief deal, according to the latest Yahoo Finance-Harris survey of 2,027 people, while fewer than one in four (23%) support corporate liability coverage and only 1 in 5 back student loan deferrals.
“The liability shield just doesn't make sense to people. People don't understand why this would be a priority, ”Gbenga Ajilore, a senior economist at the Center for American Progress, a nonprofit public policy research and advocacy organization, told Yahoo Money. "A liability label won't put food on the table, it won't keep people in their homes."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) arrive to watch the coffin containing the remains of Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) emerging from the US Capitol in Washington, USA, July 29, 2020. Brendan Smialowski / Pool via REUTERS
Liability coverage would protect businesses, educational institutions and other employers from coronavirus-related claims made by workers who get sick while on the job. It's what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the "red line" for Republicans during the stimulus negotiations, but it could be left out of the next deal if the Democrats agree to their key provisions - helping state and local governments - to be deleted.
According to 7 out of 10 respondents from a second round of 1,026 people, stimulus checks are not only the most important determination for Americans, but should also be included in the next deal. Under CARES, around 160 million Americans received a stimulus payment of up to $ 1,200 - plus $ 500 for each dependent child.
Two of the key proposals on the negotiating table - McConnell's (R-KY) package worth around $ 500 billion and the Democrat-backed bipartisan $ 908 billion proposal - do not include a provision on direct payments. The $ 916 billion White House proposal is the only one that includes checks but leaves out additional unemployment benefits that Democratic leaders have labeled "unacceptable".
There is also a standalone direct payments bill introduced by Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). However, experts said there might not be enough votes to go into law unless a major agreement is reached on incentives.
"Money saved doesn't last long if nothing comes in"
Nearly 7 in 10 Americans expected and budgeted in the hopes that between August and now Congress would pass another bill that would provide additional financial aid.
"It was not an unreasonable assumption that Congress would bring some kind of relief," said Ajilore. "What's unreasonable is the fact that they don't have it."
Almost nine months after the CARES law was passed, many of its provisions have expired or will expire if a business cycle agreement is not reached by the end of the year.
Up to 12 million Americans are expected to lose unemployment benefit coverage if two programs passed under the law expire on December 26th. In addition, the federal eviction moratorium, paid sick leave and aid to state and local governments will expire.
Both the Unemployment Pandemic Support Program (PUA) and the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program (PEUC) will expire on December 26, unless Congress enters into a business cycle agreement.
"If people had known that Congress was failing its duty and not bringing relief under the CARES Act, people would have done things a lot differently," Ajilore said. "Still, people saved their money, but money saved won't last long if nothing comes in."
"Certain people will fight a lot more"
More than half of respondents (53%) say it will take them more than seven months to get their household finances back to pre-pandemic levels. One in three states that this could take more than a year.
"Certain people will fight a lot more," Alijore said. "People are now taking on more debt because they have to pay the bills."
More than a third of Americans (33.9%) said they found it somewhat to very difficult to pay basic household expenses in the first week of November. This emerges from a recent Census Bureau report released last week.
According to a study by the JPMorgan Chase Institute, the unemployed more than doubled their cash savings between March and July, but spent two-thirds of those accumulated funds in August alone. It did so when the additional $ 600 in weekly unemployment benefits expired in late July, followed by the expiration of the additional $ 300 under the Lost Wage Support Program in September.
"It will be very difficult for them," said Alijore. "The more debt you take on, the further it will be before you can become whole again."
Denitsa is a writer for Yahoo Finance and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @denitsa_tsekova.
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