Incentive bill is too little, too late, say struggling Americans

The resident of North Bergen, New Jersey, has had to take responsibility for most of her mother’s $ 1,600 monthly mortgage to keep a roof over their heads, preventing her from repaying her student loans and saving for her future. Her mother, who works at a nearby hotel, has now only worked eight hours a week since the pandemic eroded tourism and conferences.

The family was able to cope in the early months of the pandemic, thanks in large part to the $ 600 weekly increase in unemployment benefits passed by lawmakers in late March, and Ware is baffled at what took Congress so long to provide more help despite growing need.

“I have a deep love for our country, but I really feel that we have failed because of his leadership,” said Ware, who is lucky enough to have a job with a nonprofit community development organization.

After months of start-stop negotiations, Congress finally passed a $ 900 billion aid package Monday night. The bill provides a $ 300 weekly increase in unemployment benefits for 11 weeks, extends two major pandemic unemployment programs through early spring, sends up to $ 600 in direct payments, extends deportation moratorium, increases food stamps and other nutritional aid, and provides more aid to struggling small companies.

But this aid is too little, too late, say many Americans who have struggled to make ends meet amid the economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus. The $ 1,200 incentive checks from the March package have long been spent, and the $ 600 federal stimulus for laid-off workers ended in July.

More than 750 CNN readers told us their views on Tuesday, and many said they were deeply disappointed. The $ 600 payments and 11 additional weeks of additional unemployment benefits won’t go far, they wrote.

President Donald Trump said he would not be allowed to sign the coronavirus control bill passed by Congress unless it changes mass spending laws to increase the amount of stimulus payments.

“I ask Congress to change this bill and raise the ridiculously low $ 600 to $ 2,000 or $ 4,000 per couple,” Trump said in a video released on Twitter. “I also ask Congress to immediately scrap the wasteful and unnecessary items in this legislation or send me an appropriate bill.”

At a press conference at the end of the year on Tuesday, President-elect Joe Biden said the package “provides essential relief at a critical time,” but is “far from perfect.” He said he plans to go to Congress early next year to push for more help for the “millions of hurt families who are unable to put food on the table, pay rent or pay the mortgage” , as well as others who need help.

“As I’ve been saying all along, this bill is just the first step, a down payment for dealing with the crises – more than one – we’re in,” he said. “There is still a lot of work to be done.”