Coronavirus Vaccine – December 17, 2020
TrueNewsBlog – TNB
By: Nathaniel Ballantyne
(TrueNewsBlog) — Vice President Mike Pence will get a Covid vaccine publicly Friday at the White House, along with second lady Karen Pence and Surgeon General Jerome Adams. He would be the first Trump administration official to get the shot. President-elect Joe Biden plans to get the vaccine in public early next week.
Congress appears to finally be closing in on another round of coronavirus relief. The deal, which could be finalized tonight, is for around $900 billion in spending, including direct stimulus payments of about $600 and a boost to unemployment benefits. The pace of jobs coming back from the 22 million we lost to Covid-19 is way down and potentially headed to zero this month. Weekly initial jobless claims are creeping back toward 1 million, a massive number still well above the pre-Covid record. Retail sales tanked a worse than expected 1.1 percent in November, the second monthly drop in a row as household incomes continue to fall without more federal support.
There’s a very good chance the U.S. is about to repeat the very slow recovery from the financial crisis of 2008-2009. That one, you may recall, helped launch populist uprisings like Occupy Wall Street on the left, the Tea Party on the right and eventually helped elect President Donald Trump.
Economists and many progressive Democrats (along with former aides to President Barack Obama who were once more moderate) blame the relatively limited scope of the 2009 stimulus and the abysmal failure of efforts to rescue struggling homeowners for the plodding and uneven recovery and the rise of those very angry strains of political populism.
There is also a very real possibility this is the last chunk of stimulus the economy will receive. If Mitch McConnell remains majority leader, it’s difficult to imagine him helping Biden, who wants trillions of dollars more in stimulus, to pass any fresh assistance early next year.
The cash infusion to households— should it finally arrive — would certainly help. The economy desperately needs it. The $900 billion package would at least mitigate some of the massively uneven recovery that has seen high-income earners and those with significant money in the stock market do just fine while tens of millions suffer and wind up in food lines that are disrupting traffic in places like Clarksville, Tenn.
And it is possible that the private sector — with a significant boost from the Trump administration’s Warp Speed effort — will bail out Congress for being seriously late and limited on stimulus, with rapid development of more effective vaccines. A real end to Covid-19 by spring or summer could ignite a boom in confidence and unleash pent-up consumer demand for dining, travel and all kinds of leisure activities crushed by the virus. It could also spark a sharp rise in hiring and potentially lift millions left behind in the recovery thus far.
It doesn’t include more aid to struggling state and local governments, meaning it will be difficult to impossible for many states that have to balance their budgets to avoid significant layoffs that will damage the economy and make the monthly jobs numbers look even worse. The size of stimulus checks would be around half what they were the last round. Expanded jobless benefits of $300 per week would also be half what they were the last time.
And if any of the many things that could go wrong do go wrong with the vaccines, economists believe it would be very difficult to avoid another recession no matter what kind of fresh stimulus Biden and McConnell manage to squeeze out. Happy New Year.