Another stimulus—better late than never

Armstrong Williams | 1/7/2021, midnight
According to a recent study by the Aspen Institute, up to 40 million Americans faced eviction towards the end of ...
Armstrong Williams

According to a recent study by the Aspen Institute, up to 40 million Americans faced eviction towards the end of this year, no doubt secondary to the financial impact of COVID-19. As federal resources for unemployment and additional stimulus came to a complete halt, millions of Americans and small businesses continue to struggle to survive amid widespread, government mandated lockdown. To make matters worse, nearly 100,000 businesses that temporarily shut down because of the pandemic are now permanently out of business. They will never return.

While Congress fell into the dark abyss of hyper-partisan bickering, Americans of every race and political party affiliation continued to struggle. Their communities have been forever changed by the businesses that closed their doors one last time. For some, it has been a recurring nightmare, a dream that never ends no matter how hard you pinch yourself. However, even the self-imposed demi-gods that we call our Congressmen and women should have a moment of mercy. That mercy comes in the form of another COVID-19 relief package to help struggling Americans and struggling small businesses.

The original proposed bill, which was over 5,000 pages long, included $600 stimulus checks for Americans, $300 in weekly unemployment supplements, and $284 billion in small business loans, also known as the PPP program, which helped keep many small businesses afloat following the initial lockdowns in early 2020. While the PPP stimulus is certainly helpful for small businesses, President Trump voraciously objected to the $600 stimulus amount and demanded that $2,000 be given to struggling Americans. House Republicans initially rejected the measure, but they have now come around to President Trump's demand and have joined their Democratic colleagues in passing the amended bill to include $2000 for struggling Americans. With the bill headed to the U.S. Senate, all eyes are on the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who has recently started to break rank from President Trump. Hopefully, however, this will be a victory for President Trump and most importantly a victory for millions of struggling American families.

There remains one question that I continue to contemplate, and that is what happens when this money runs out? With the threat of a new strain of COVID-19 from the U.K., one that doctors already warn could be lurking in the U.S. undetected and awaiting discovery in some unfortunate soul, mass panic could result and another shutdown of the U.S. economy could occur, putting us closer to the brink of total and irrevocable economic collapse.

While it’s great that Congress has finally decided to do something, we may soon discover that we would be much better off if they did something a lot sooner to help mitigate any potential relapse if the virus mutated. Unfortunately, however, folks in Washington don’t seem to be all that forward-thinking because we’re ever so much closer to that becoming our next reality.

While Americans are thankful for relief, I can’t help but wonder how long it will last for people and business owners alike. Some Americans will be able to sustain, but there are so many Americans, particularly those in our rural and urban areas, that are truly going to have a difficult time. Many people will be forced to stretch these funds for as long as they can while at the same time they look for work. They look for work from businesses that might otherwise have hired them, businesses that are now fighting to stay afloat and doing everything that they can to stay open and to keep their current employees on the payroll. If we shut down again, nothing will make a difference because we’ve waited too long to provide relief.

Perhaps this is a spiritual dilemma; perhaps COVID is a test to our national and global humanity. Is there something that we should learn at this moment? I firmly believe that there is and as we prepare for the possibility that things could get worse, we must humble ourselves to our vulnerability as human beings. Perhaps before COVID, that was easier said than done, but I think that the recent rampant loss of life has humbled us all. How can anyone take life for granted after what we’ve gone through and a society especially with the looming possibility of more to come. This reality should force us all to our knees to give praise, thanks, and glory to the almighty.

As you move forward with a second round of relief from Congress, please do everything you can to preserve what you can and to stock up on any and all essentials because it’s possible that the worst is yet to come. It’s possible that while the relief is better late than never, we will soon realize that it’s not enough. We may soon realize that some resources aren’t as finite as we once thought. But the question again, as I’ve alluded to throughout this column is: are we ready or is it too late? It’s better late than never until we realize it’s not soon enough, but let’s pray to God almighty that it’s not the reality any of us have to face.

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