For several days, Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized federal lawmakers for passing a bipartisan $2 trillion bill to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The governor said the bill will provide insufficient aid to state governments.
New York state’s government will receive about $5 billion from the federal emergency bill, Cuomo said, which can be used only for COVID-19 response efforts and is off-limits to help defray the state’s projected $10 billion to $15 billion budget shortfall.
It will have to do, for now.
But Cuomo is right when he said the stimulus package is not exclusively for people who contracted the virus. It is a prescription intended to strengthen an economy knocked flat on its back by it and, for cruel irony, by the very steps governments took to stop its progress.
The bill, as Cuomo accurately states, is dedicated to economic aid. It includes direct payments of up to $1,200 per person, $2,400 per couple and $500 per child. But this is a drop in the bucket compared to what Denmark is doing by paying 75% of workers’ salaries or Sweden, which is paying 80% of its workers’ salaries. Models like these are worth exploring.
The coronavirus presents a challenge unlike anything our nation has seen before. But the stimulus package — although it supports every American worker, expands unemployment insurance, much-needed child nutrition and funding to support hospitals, as well as health care and other essential workers — is simply not enough.
President Donald Trump and Congress have to do more, much more, to stave off nationwide financial ruin for millions of Americans.
The House of Representatives took important, bipartisan steps to support physical and financial recovery, but Congress has to remember that Friday’s action is only a baby step on the road to getting America off the sickbed and back on its feet.