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Editorial roundup: Put money in hands of workers

Efforts in Minnesota and Washington, D.C., to support and stabilize the U.S. economy have started in the right direction with most of the money going to workers who are consumers that make up 70 percent of the economy.

The federal government would issue checks of $1,200 to each person and $2,400 to a couple with an additional $500 for each child, under a plan by Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The checks could be in Americans’ hands in two weeks.

The sooner the better.

In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz has extended unemployment benefits to those laid off due to the coronavirus. Those payments provide about half a worker’s pay up to $740 per week. And plenty of people are taking advantage of that. Unemployment filings went from 18,000 a week ago to 95,000 through Thursday. Those who lost pay due to having to stay home with children will also be eligible for the payments.

Congress also has plans for about $208 billion in business stabilization funds to help those businesses like airlines and the travel industry shore up a crumbling bottom line. The plan also calls for $300 billion to support small business to keep employees on the payroll.

These supports also makes sense.

Democrats, Republicans and Trump were to be working on the details this past weekend and there may be a vote as soon as Monday.

Some of the sticking points revolve around how to deliver the money to Americans. Democrats favor going through the unemployment payment system. Other options are one-time stipends or checks directly to Americans and reductions in payroll taxes.

The unemployment system would be orderly and a good way to keep track who has been paid, but it also requires people to go online and sign up, filling out a sometimes confusing form.

We favor direct payments to Americans, possibly the same way tax refunds are delivered. That seems simplest and fastest.

It’s important to infuse the economy with needed cash as businesses and employers are suffering dire economic circumstances through no fault of their own.

 

— The Free Press of Mankato, March 23