People in Kansas and the United States need help.
While the immediate economic crunch that followed the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has abated, we’re nowhere near out of the woods. National unemployment is still high — nearly 8% — and jobs are no longer returning at their previous pace.
In Kansas, the unemployment rate is near 7%, and shudders racing through the airline industry should worry all of us. Put simply, the hospitality industry is in crisis mode, with most folks sticking close to home during these uncertain times.
Turn your attention to Main Street, and the picture isn’t much better. Small businesses kept afloat through the Paycheck Protection Program and customers receiving enhanced jobless benefits face months ahead with promise of aid. With social distancing being one of the few surefire ways to tamp down the virus, few people are eager to crowd shoulder to shoulder inside shops, no matter the deals or kindness of staff.
But retailers are likely doing better than bars and restaurants, which are attempting to navigate ever-changing regulations and limitations.
It’s a difficult situation, and one that could likely get worse over the coming months.
There is a solution though, the same solution that kept our country running over the past seven difficult months. The U.S. Congress must pass, and the president must sign, a comprehensive stimulus bill that keeps our people afloat.
The ideal bill would send a new round of checks to every American, boost unemployment benefits again, extend the Paycheck Protection Program, direct aid to ailing industries and include aid for states and local governments facing declines in tax revenue.
Remember: Most states are required to balance their budgets. The U.S. government is not, which means it’s the sole entity that can prevent cuts to public services or unpleasant tax increases.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have come close to a deal that would do all of the above. However, Senate Republicans have voiced their opposition to spending nearly $2 trillion, and Democrats may be hesitant to give President Donald Trump a "win" in the middle of election season.
Both sides should drop their posturing. People need help now.
GOP senators seem more interested in confirming a hard-right Supreme Court justice than helping suffering small businesses in their communities. And while handing Trump a victory may be tough for Democrats, our country simply can’t wait. Pass stimulus now.