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Record $2 trillion US stimulus may fall short of full relief

Katia Dmitrieva, Bloomberg News on

Published in Business News

WASHINGTON -- The record U.S. economic stimulus package provides much-needed aid to small companies and Americans hit hard by the coronavirus, but it falls short of a fiscal elixir that heals the economy and offsets labor-market carnage.

Shortly after midnight Wednesday, the White House and Democratic lawmakers said they reached agreement on a $2 trillion bill aimed at limiting the economic hit of the outbreak. The Senate may vote later in the day; it would still need to clear the House and be signed by President Donald Trump.

Even with a price tag that represents about 10% of the nation's total output, not all Americans who may need direct payments will receive them, and timing remains an issue. The draft text of the legislation had not been released as of 10:30 a.m. in Washington.

The bill -- the third phase of coronavirus aid from Congress -- was tweaked after House Democrats proposed their own $2.5 trillion version. The S&P 500 fluctuated in the morning session, following Tuesday's 9.4% surge in anticipation of the deal between the White House and Congress.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said Wednesday on CNBC that the package is "about right for the situation" but said it was temporary relief: "This is not stimulus."

Further stimulus will be needed in coming days and weeks to further bolster the economy and leaders should begin working on that now, according to Jason Furman, a member of Barack Obama's economic team during the 2008 recession.

 

"I've never seen Congress move so fast to do something so large. Unfortunately, the problem may be larger and faster," Furman said.

Here are economists' views of the primary pieces of the latest bill:

--Direct Checks

For individuals, the package provides direct payments to lower- and middle-income Americans of $1,200 for each adult, as well as $500 for each child. House Democrats had been pushing for bigger payments.

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