March 25, 2020

Senate leaders and the White House have agreed to a $2 trillion stimulus package for the biggest economic package in U.S. history. The Senate and the House are expected to vote on the final version today.

John Berman asked CNN business correspondent Christine Romans for the details.

"Well, you know, checks for millions of American families, you know. And that's one thing that will come out pretty quickly, once they figure out how to get those out the door. They want to do that quickly, the treasury secretary said, so maybe in the next couple weeks," she said.

"But there's also a whole bunch of money here for hospitals, for local communities who are going to need the money as this pandemic gets worse here. So, you've got hundreds of billions of dollars for companies, hundreds of billions of dollars for the health care system and hundreds of billions of dollars for American workers. There's also better jobless benefits, and this is something Democrats were really, really pushing for. They know there will be millions of people out of work who are going to be needing bigger checks for a longer period of time, John."

"Talk to me about the jobless benefits, because that's very interesting. There's different money coming in different ways here, and Democrats have argued that boosted unemployment benefits actually gets more money to more people in need more quickly. "

"Yeah. And it's not just a one-time check. It's a check that is a recurring check, so people have more stability for that. And we know from research that jobless benefits tend to be things that go right into the economy right away. So, that's $250 billion for that, so those will be bigger checks for people. Because also, when you get jobless benefits, you don't always get exactly the money that you made. Also, they're loosening some of the restrictions, so for people who were furloughed, for example, will be more easily able to get those checks than under prior rules," Romans said.

"One of the holdups on this deal was oversight over the big chunk of money for corporations. What do we know about that oversight?"

"There will be a panel, an inspector general, to make sure that it's just not at the whim of the Treasury Department or the whim of politics to decide what companies will get bailouts, and that was really important here. I mean, remember the last time we had a big bailout, which was half the size of this in 2008-2009, there was so much anger about those bailouts that it actually spawned a whole Tea Party movement, remember? And that changed American politics, spending that kind of money, and the lack of oversight in spending some of that money.

"So, there is oversight this time around so that's not just a pot of money, a slush fund, Democrats were calling it. The president said that he would have the ultimate oversight over that slush fund and that really made Democrats nervous. Now there will be independent oversight of how that money is spent."

Here are details on the unemployment benefits, via Huffington Post:

Normally, workers can only qualify for benefits if they’re laid off through no fault of their own from a traditional payroll job, and the benefits would only replace a portion of their lost wages — typically about half, with benefits averaging $364 per week.

The new bill will add $600 per week to whatever a worker would normally receive if they’re laid off due to the coronavirus fallout, according to a Democratic aid familiar with the negotiations, which for many workers would amount to full wage replacement. Workers will be eligible even if they’re not in traditional jobs, if they work only part-time, or if they are self-employed. Gig workers, independent contractors, and freelancers will also be eligible.

[...] The new bill will add an extra 13 weeks of federally funded benefits for people who run out of the standard 26 weeks of state benefits. (Some states, such as Florida, offer less.

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