Caucuses, primaries, Super Tuesday… these are the things we talked about a month ago.
Super Tuesday hadn’t even happened yet.
Now? Pandemic, social distancing, ventilators and of course the coronavirus or COVID-19 dominate our vocabulary.
The mood has changed.
Hospitals are running out of space to treat patients.
Images of tents to treat people at hospitals across the country in places like New York.
The astounding rapid spread in New Orleans some now attribute to the large crowds at Mardi Gras.
There aren’t enough ventilators in intensive care units to go around for what’s still expected to be a staggering increase in seriously ill patients from the coronavirus.
We all see the numbers of cases and the dead climb by the day.
All of this puts tremendous pressure on the president and Congress.
Two relief packages enacted earlier this month now pale in comparison to this week’s unprecedented stimulus package, a largely economic response to record unemployment claims filed by more than 3.2 million Americans last week.
A stimulus package worth $2.2 trillion.
Here’s just a snapshot of what the stimulus does and does not do.
+You’ve heard about the direct cash to American adults:
$1,200 to individuals, $2,400 to married couples, $500 for every child in a family.
That gradually phases out for income above $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples.
+A huge boost for unemployment benefits of an extra $600 a week for four months on top of state benefits.
+Half a trillion dollars in loans and grants for big and small businesses, airlines among them.
+$100 billion for hospitals
+Protection against foreclosures and evictions.
There is no money for businesses tied to federally elected officials — that means nothing for the president’s resort properties — no money for the border wall, the oil industry, cruise lines or the cannabis industry.
There’s already an expectation Congress will have to do more the longer the pandemic continues.
One way this crisis has affected us here at 4 The Record is that we are no longer have conversations here in the studio.
We are doing our best to rely on technology like Skype.
On Thursday, I spoke with Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos right before she headed back to Washington D.C. to vote on the stimulus.
In the first part of that conversation, she discussed what things she liked in the stimulus bill coming from the Senate, what she didn’t like and how she responds to Republican critics who think the unemployment provisions provide an incentive for Americans not to work.
Watch the full conversation in the video above.
Local 4 News, your local election headquarters, is proud to present 4 The Record, a weekly news and public affairs program focused on the issues important to you. It’s a program unlike any other here in the Quad Cities. Tune in each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. as Jim Niedelman brings you up to speed on what’s happening in the political arena, from Springfield, Des Moines, Washington, D.C. and right here at home.