By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
More than a week after Congress reached a stimulus deal, President Donald Trump has signed the $900 billion COVID-relief bill.
The President, who has spent most of his time since losing the November 3 election pushing false conspiracy theories about his loss to President-Elect Joe Biden and golfing, delayed signing the bill complaining that the $600 in direct payments in the legislation was too small.
He also chaffed at portions of the bill that called for ridding any military base of a names of Confederate generals and other figures who fought against equality.
While Trump’s delay came close to forcing a government shutdown, it did get in the way of the Internal Revenue Service sending out much needed relief payments to struggling families.
With two vital Senate runoff elections upcoming in Georgia, Trump’s sudden interest in boosting direct payments to $2,000 likely was a political play to assist the GOP in those races.
Republicans need to win just one of the two seats to retain control of the Senate, while Democrats need to claim victories in both races to end Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell’s divisive reign as Majority Leader.
Trump realized that many have called the $600 direct payment negotiated in the legislation and agreed to by the White House a slap in the face to struggling American families who are increasingly finding it difficult to pay their bills and avoid eviction.
“A $600 stimulus check is like receiving a $10 gift card for a store where the cheapest item found is $1,000,” stated George McClendon, a member of the American Mathematical Society.
“The stimulus is politicians destroying the economy with garbage policies while they flout the rules and party then offering to extract nearly 1 trillion dollars from working-class people, give them back $600 each and give the overwhelming majority to big businesses,” Tim Pool, a filmmaker, musician, and journalist, wrote on Twitter.
Republican and Democratic negotiators reached a new $900 billion stimulus deal on Sunday, December 20.
The $900 billion package is far lighter than the more than $2 trillion CARES Act, which was signed into law earlier this year and provided direct payments of $1,200 for individuals who made $75,000 or less and $2,400 for couples who earned $150,000 or less.
The CARES Act also provides an additional $600 per dependent child.
The latest bill contains direct payments of $600 per adult and $600 per dependent child. Though lawmakers still have not finalized the language, it’s believed those payments would be based on the same provisions of the CARES Act.
The bill also provides $300 of weekly enhancement in unemployment benefits – down from $600 in the CARES Act.
It reopens the small business loan program, provides aid for schools and childcare, extends eviction protection, and offers nutrition assistance aid.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will be extended with another $284 billion of forgivable loans.
Reportedly, some of the funding will be set aside for small businesses through lenders such as Minority Depository Institutions, following criticisms that the first round of PPP loans overlooked many minority – and women-owned businesses.
According to a bill summary, the PPP program will also expand eligibility for nonprofits and local newspapers, TV, and radio broadcasters.
Another $20 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans will be set aside for businesses in low-income communities.
In comparison, $15 billion will be directed toward live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions.
“The stimulus package is inadequate, but a necessary compromise. It just underscores the importance of [the Georgia Senate race] to get another package in early 2021,” former Democratic Minnesota Sen. Al Franken noted on his podcast.
Following the stimulus agreement’s announcement, many on social media were quick to point out what other countries have done for struggling citizens.
France agreed to provide $7,575 per month in direct payments to its citizens, while German residents receive $7,326 monthly during the pandemic.
Demark ($3,288 per month), the United Kingdom ($3,084), Australia ($1,993), Ireland ($1,793), and Canada ($1,433) each provide its citizens with monthly stimulus payouts.
The $600 stimulus check the new bill provides for U.S. residents is a one-time payout.
The $600 stimulus,” Opinion writer Ed Neller tweeted. “Did you know that a first-term congressman earns $174,000? That means they earn over $3,000 per week. And they decided $600 is sufficient to live on for months. See the problem here? Anyone? Anyone?”