Will congressional Republicans agree to renew the pandemic unemployment program that grants benefits to gig-economy workers and an additional $600 per week for everyone else?
The program is supporting up to 3 million jobs by itself according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) so the question is at the top of many people's minds including about 32 million or more Americans recurrently receiving money from the program which injected about $120 billion into the economy last month.
Unfortunately for many people, it may already be too late.
The program will begin to expire for some people as soon as next week, but NBC News reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) won't release his own stimulus proposal until next week and that will only signal the beginning of negotiations.
McConnell said he'll unveil his own bill next week, which Republicans expect to cost more than $1 trillion. His office is talking with the Trump administration and some Senate Republicans, according to officials familiar with the discussions who requested anonymity to describe internal conversations.
McConnell hasn't provided the details of his proposal, but he has said he will focus on funding to get children back to school, lower the unemployment rate and help companies that are beginning to reopen by providing liability protections.
Responding to NBC News, one of Trump's economic advisers, Stephen Moore, said the GOP "can't allow those benefits to be extended" because there won't be a "jobs recovery in the fall;" as if this program is the only thing preventing tens of millions of people from returning to places of business that may even be shutting down again or shutting down permanently as the coronavirus outbreak widens.
There is no substantiated economic case driving this opposition; it's purely political. They're worried about a "jobs recovery in the fall" because of the upcoming election.
The dark irony is that ending this program and failing to control the virus will both mean there can be no real jobs recovery. At this point, most people who have jobs to go back to have already started to do so, but there are currently 4 unemployed people for every 1 job opening in the United States according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Everyone from the CBO to the world's largest investment banks have projected that unemployment will be as high as or higher than 10 percent through the end of 2020 even if we control the virus and we currently do not control it. It will take years to create enough jobs for everyone to go back work at "normal" levels.
House Democrats passed a more than $3 trillion stimulus package almost 2 months ago that would renew the pandemic unemployment program and provide more direct stimulus payments to most Americans. Republicans have spent the entire summer doing nothing. McConnell waited months just to propose something, much less pass something.