Photo: Michael Beschloss on Twitter.

With the clock running down on the Trump administration and the current session of Congress, it's finally looking like we're about to see a $900 billion-ish interim economic stimulus bill to tide Americans over until Joe Biden takes office and has to pass another one. The proposed stimmy — if it passes — would be the first new round of economic stimulus since the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed in March. And it's far past time; as the new wave of infections leads to more business closures to stop the spread of the virus, the weekly unemployment numbers are up again, with 885,000 more Americans filing first-time claims. That's up by 23,000 from the week before, and worse than economists had predicted.

And you're goddamn right we're going to remind you once more that House Democrats passed a real, comprehensive stimulus bill in MAY, six months and a few days ago, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to consider it because maybe the economy was going to get all better on its own, and also because Republicans really wanted to make it nigh-impossible to sue companies that let their workers or customers become infected.

However, the circumstances have, as they say, evolved, and now McConnell is willing to set aside his beloved gift to irresponsible corporations. Not because the pandemic has gotten so much worse, don't be silly. McConnell is worried that the GOP's continued refusal to pass a stimulus bill might lead to Democrats winning the Georgia Senate runoffs, ending the Republican majority in the Senate. See? Mitch cares! About holding on to power.


The New York Times has the deets on McConnell's sudden realization that a stimulus is badly needed to save Americans his ass:

On Wednesday, he suggested on a private call with Republicans that delivering the stimulus package could bolster the party's hopes of hanging onto its majority in the Senate, according to three people who relayed his comments on the condition of anonymity.

Mr. McConnell said that Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who are both facing runoffs in January that will determine which party controls the Senate, were "getting hammered" for Congress's failure to deliver more pandemic aid to struggling Americans — particularly the direct payments — and that enacting the measure could help them.

Oh, yes, and McConnell also urged his caucus to keep in mind that if they pass this new stimmy, which includes a new round of individual checks for Americans, then Donald Trump could have a nice bill to sign as his term ends, yes it's really ending.

So what's in this thing? Let's start with what's not in it: McConnell has AT LAST withdrawn his demand for the liability shield, no doubt figuring he can demand it again later if his party holds on to the Senate following the Jan. 5 elections in Georgia. And Democrats agreed, for now, to take out the roughly $160 billion for state, local, and tribal governments that had been in the original bipartisan proposal. The GOP, pretending there are no cities in Republican-majority states, had been calling state and local aid a "blue state bailout," because all Republicans ever do is lie like a bunch of rabid weasels. Fortunately, some of the items in the short-term bill will provide some budget relief to state and local governments.

With the state and local aid pulled, that meant the temporary package could include three things there's some wide agreement on:

  1. An extension of funding for two programs that have made plain vanilla unemployment benefits available to more workers for a longer period of time. Those had been set to expire just after Christmas.
  2. A new emergency unemployment benefit that would pay workers $300 a week on top of whatever state benefits they receive (that's half the emergency benefit under the CARES Act).
  3. A new round of individual stimulus checks to almost all Americans — likely to be $600 per person, for both adults and children, topping out at $2400 per family. The exact amount, and the top income threshold for those who'd qualify, haven't yet been finalized.

In addition, the package as it stands now would

There are a number of other items still being negotiated, so it's possible the bill won't be ready to pass until next week. And wouldn't you know it, on another front, Congress may also have to pass a short-term spending measure to prevent a government shutdown at 12:00 a.m. Saturday, no pressure.

[NYT / WaPo / Axios / Photo: Michael Beschloss on Twitter]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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