While it’s disappointing–to say the least–that a $15/hour minimum wage and massive increase for the tipped minimum wage wasn’t included in the COVID relief bill, there is a lot that’s good:
- $1,400 payments. Yes, they should be $2,000, but $1,400 is better than zero.
- $300 weekly emergency unemployment checks until September 6 (it’s an additional $300 to existing UI benefits). A big boost for COVID-19 control.
- Removing tax penalties for various subsidies (many of the payments were previously counted as taxable income).
- Restaurants finally get the money they need to stay (partially) closed. Concert venues–which is good for the arts–also get much needed assistance.
- Lays the groundwork for a permanent child tax credit. Perhaps not the optimal solution, but still very good.
- Support for mass transit. Finally. And now your local mass transit system has no excuse for cutting service…
- Rental assistance.
- Funding for testing and tracing, genomic surveillance, and public health departments.
The list goes on, but it’s pretty amazing that the radical centrists signed on to a $1.9 trillion spending bill. For the young’uns there’s no way the Democratic Party of 2009-2010 would have agreed to something like this.
Still lots of work to do, but this bill gets some points on the board and builds some momentum.