Why We Need to Increase Unemployment Insurance More Than We Need to Send Everyone Checks – By Jordan Weissmann (Slate) / Dec 10 2020
With negotiations over coronavirus aid still deadlocked on Capitol Hill, the White House released a $916 billion proposal of its own this week that demonstrated some questionable priorities. The offer would include a new, $600 round of relief checks—which everyone loves. But as a trade-off, it would not increase the size of unemployment benefits for the many millions of Americans who are still out of work.
This is the opposite approach of the bipartisan plan that has lately been at the center of talks, which would leave out the checks but would up jobless payments by $300 per week. Democratic leaders quickly panned the administration’s offer, arguing that it would shortchange the people who need help most at the moment, in order to send a holiday bonus to a lot of people who aren’t really in dire need.
On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tried to push back and justify the administration’s position.
“We obviously want to get people back to work,” Mnuchin told reporters. “By sending out checks, we’re putting money into the economy for people. This will have the impact of creating demand, which will have the impact of creating jobs. We want to get people their jobs back.”
While it’s refreshing to see a Republican administration come out in favor of straightforward Keynesian stimulus, Mnuchin’s argument is not particularly convincing. Given the circumstances, beefing up unemployment insurance is clearly more urgent than sending a modest round of checks.