The coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdowns have taken a massive toll on the economy, with unemployment rising to levels not seen since the Great Depression. In response, Congress passed stimulus legislation designed to provide Americans with urgent financial relief.
But while Democrats have complained that the Trump administration has done a poor job of handling those funds, new information from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) tells a very different story, according to The Washington Times.
In an article published on Tuesday, the Times reported that “Congress’ chief scorekeeper had high praise for the Trump administration.”
Agencies moved “quickly and effectively”
The Times quoted CBO Director Philip L. Swagel as saying that the Treasury Department acted “quickly and effectively” in its distribution of cash.
“The IRS and those other agencies deserve a lot of credit,” Swagel continued. He also lauded the efficiency with which the Small Business Administration operated.
However, while the official had positive words for the overall handling of the crisis, he did stress that there is still a long and painful road ahead.
“The experience of recent downturns has been the recovery is prolonged,” Swagel pointed out, predicting that the lost economic progress will take “years to get back,” according to the Times.
Unemployment battle looms
There is serious division on Capitol Hill regarding what kind of additional economic stimulus may be needed, with Republicans and Democrats offering very different plans. Unemployment benefits have emerged as a main point of contention thus far.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pushed the HEROES Act through congress last month, legislation that includes a provision extending a coronavirus-related unemployment insurance bonus that led to many workers receiving more money through the enhanced benefits than they would have earned on the job, as NPR reported.
“[Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell and the President must join the House to protect lives and livelihoods by passing The Heroes Act now,” Pelosi said in a statement released on Wednesday.
However, McConnell (R-KY) contends that the extension of the additional payments would be economically counterproductive and would disincentivize people from returning to or seeking new jobs.
“What I thought was a mistake was the bonus we added that small businesses all over the country are saying make it more lucrative to not work than to work,” Politico quoted the Kentucky Republican as saying on May 31. “That’s exactly the opposite of what we want to do.”