- Congress has already taken a series of extraordinary steps to provide unprecedented relief like direct payments to Americans as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but momentum for a new stimulus bill seems to be stalled at the moment.
- Billionaire Mark Cuban, meanwhile, has tweeted out a stimulus idea of his own that we think might be one of the most creative yet.
- It calls for a massive federal jobs program, as well as new direct payments to Americans that include a “spend it or lose it” requirement.
At this stage of the coronavirus pandemic, more than two months on from the outbreak first exploding in the US, there are a few things we can say about the crisis with certainty.
For one, this has been a fast-moving catastrophe with a wide scale of destruction, in terms of both public health and economic pain, like nothing the US has seen in more than a generation. Another is the fact that, given the more than 36 million people who have been thrown out of work because of it, it’s probably a certainty that a new stimulus bill will start making the rounds after the Memorial Day holiday. The question is what form it will take, following other coronavirus relief measures that have included direct payments to most Americans of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married couples, along with $500 per eligible child — an unprecedented injection of financial relief from the federal government to blunt some of the economic shock of the crisis.
House Democrats have already passed a new stimulus plan, following up on the $2.2 trillion measure passed in March that included funding for those stimulus checks, and while the new package includes the possibility of even bigger direct payments to Americans, the Republican-controlled Senate has said this bill won’t go anywhere in the upper chamber. In the meantime, other proposals are being floated, like this plan that includes $10,000 in credit card relief, while the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks has also come up with an idea of his own that we think might be the most creative proposals yet for tackling the coronavirus crisis.
Mark Cuban laid out its particulars in a series of tweets, which you can check out below. In summary, his idea calls for a massive federal jobs program that includes hiring and training millions of people to work as coronavirus testers and contract-tracers, in addition to guaranteeing a $1,000 check every two weeks for some 128 million US households.
Unlike other proposals that call for putting money directly into the hands of Americans in order to juice the economy, though, this one would come with a pretty important string attached. You couldn’t save this money since it would come with a stipulation that you must spend it within 10 days or lose it.
It's time to face the fact that PPP didn't work. Great plan, difficult execution. No one's fault. The only thing that will save businesses is consumer demand. No amount of loans to businesses will save them or jobs if their customers aren't buying.
— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) May 17, 2020
In addition, because this will take time, we need to consider an interim spending stimulus program. All 128m households could get a $1k check every 2 weeks for the next 2 months that MUST BE SPENT WITHIN 10 DAYS OF RECEIPT OR IT EXPIRES. This "use it or lose it" prog will
— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) May 17, 2020
“Cost about $500b,” Cuban wrote on Twitter about the idea he’s proposing, “but it will allow for demand for non essential products and services to increase, hopefully keeping most businesses alive, as we learn what the impact of re-opening is on the spread and whether or not employment grows organically.”
This idea comes as most Americans say they’re scared and fearful of their job security during this crisis, which is the kind of thing that leads people to hoard money and not make unnecessary purchases — a negative economic spiral that only serves to makes things worse for businesses around the country. According to a new report from Headspace, as many as 70% of Americans are afraid they’ll lose their job in the next six months as the economic pain from the coronavirus pandemic only gets worse.