Lawmakers must take action to prevent another round of pandemic fallout

Published 10:41 am Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The end of the month is quickly approaching, which means that unemployed folks will soon lose their additional $600-per-week federal unemployment benefit and lose their federal protection from eviction, which sets the stage for a multi-pronged catastrophe to be levied on the heads of the nation’s already most vulnerable and desperate people.

With the moratorium on evictions and the additional unemployment funds expiring, our nation is setting itself up for a housing crisis, as people are forced from their homes for lack of money, which will put additional strain on the already-overburdened network of shelters, feeding centers, donation sites and the like, which will inevitably lead to increased rates of COVID-19, as people are forced to huddle together for a chance at relief.

But the worst part of this impending crisis is the fact that (a) it could have been avoided early on with ambitious and robust plans to keep families solvent during a global pandemic and (b) that it’s wholly in the hands of the federal government, as states and local governments don’t have nearly the resources required to handle the task, a result of federal policy, which means that we may be in for a long, cold winter.

Everything has become political these days, even providing unemployed workers and families with some kind of safety net to keep them from losing their homes during a global pandemic that has left roughly 20 million Americans without jobs, and the people continue to be the ones that carry the brunt of that suffering.

Immediate impact aside – people losing their homes and falling into poverty, support systems overwhelmed and depleted, a surge of new disease cases as people are forced to take up residence in shelter, an increase in crime as people become desperate – what will the overreaching impact be to our nation’s economy?

As Democratic leaders are set to meet with the president to begin negotiations on another coronavirus relief package, a good place for the Senate to start would be taking up the multi-trillion dollar legislation already approved by the House.

But a half-hearted attempt at relief that largely benefits big businesses and the wealthy won’t do – American lawmakers must find a way to put money in the hands of struggling Americans, whether that’s another round of stimulus payments, an extension of expanded unemployment benefits or, even better, some combination of the two, while also ensuring businesses don’t go under as a result of the economic pandemic we’ve allowed to break out.

This is an issue that can’t be put aside or ignored, despite the Senate’s refusal to be proactive in the face of widespread disaster, and lawmakers must act fast or the pandemic will appear like a bruised knuckle to the paraplegic American body.