Two primary anchors of the government's COVID protection package are ending or have recently ended. Starting today an estimated 8.9 million people will lose their unemployment benefits. A federal eviction moratorium has already expired.
According to KTLA, President Joe Biden's administration believes the U.S. economy is strong enough not to be rattled by evictions or the drop in unemployment benefits. Officials maintain that other elements of the safety net, like the Chile Tax Credit and the SNAP program are enough to smooth things over. A White House spokesperson said there is no plans to reevaluate the end of the unemployment benefits.
"Twenty-two-trillion-dollar economies work in no small part on momentum and we have strong momentum going in the right direction on behalf of the American workforce." said Jared Bernstein, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisors.
Biden and the Democrats who control Congress are at a crossroads, allowing the aid to expire as they focus instead on his more sweeping "build back better" package of infrastructure and other spending. The $3.5 trillion proposal would rebuild many of the safety net programs, but it faces hurdles in the closely divided Congress. In the meantime, families, will have to make do.
The sudden lapse of a crucial element of the pandemic safety net has fueled calls for a re-evaluation of the entire unemployment benefits system. It's time to get with the 21st century.