Congress allowed a supplemented unemployment benefit to expire at the end of July, taking $600 per week out of the pockets of jobless Americans struggling to find work in the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression.
The enhanced unemployment insurance was part of the CARES Act Congress passed in March. The law authorized
$2.2 trillion in spending meant to undergird the economy as the nation locked down to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
However, closures and messaging around the coronavirus varied by state, and federal leaders from the president to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided inconsistent advice. A federal system of contact tracing and testing did not materialize during the initial closures, and coronavirus cases began rising again, overwhelming the capacity of public health departments to implement these tried and true measures, according to NPR.
The rampant virus has taken a toll on the economy. Numbers released on July 30 showed that the U.S. economy contracted by 33 percent in the second quarter of the fiscal year, overshadowing the worst point of the 2008 Great Recession.
Benefits are drying up, jobs are scarce and rent is still due. Although local eviction moratoriums are still in place, those policies only prevent landlords from kicking people out. The balance of unpaid rent will still come due when the moratoriums are lifted. That has experts worried about a deluge of evictions and corresponding spike in homelessness.
Congress could pass the HEROES Act, a companion to the CARES Act, that maintains some of the previous bill’s stabilizing benefits. The HEROES Act has passed the House of Representatives, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not brought it up in the Senate.
Home is where the protests are
Protesters marched on the Snohomish County home of Seattle’s chief of police Sunday, prompting an angry backlash from armed neighbors and a letter to City Council from Chief Carmen Best.
The march is one of many that have been taking place each night in Seattle and have brought protesters to the homes of multiple City Council members and Mayor Jenny Durkan. Durkan and others have complained that the protests result in threats and graffiti.
In her letter to the Council, Best asks them to “stand up for what’s right.”
“Before this devolves into the new way of doing business by mob rule here in Seattle, and across the nation, elected officials like you must forcefully call for the end of these tactics,” Best wrote.
The letter comes as the City Council looks at significant cuts to the police department.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC.
Read more in the Aug. 5-11, 2020 issue.