Federal pandemic aid package ‘leaves a ton on the table.’

The $908 billion bipartisan aid package that is gaining support in Congress will not solve all of the nation’s economic problems, but economists say that the federal government should pass it anyway.

“It’s within the range where you could argue it does enough good that it would be worth taking it,” said William E. Spriggs, a Howard University economist who served in the Labor Department under President Barack Obama. “But it leaves a ton on the table, and still leaves us with a big problem going forward.”

Details of the plan, proposed by a group of senators including Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, are still being negotiated, Jim Tankersley and Ben Casselman report in The New York Times. Furthermore, its success is not assured: Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has not endorsed it and President Trump would still need to sign it. But experts say the plan would provide nearly $300 billion for small-business aid, $180 billion for unemployed workers and $160 billion for state, local and tribal governments.

The plan doesn’t include everyone in need and is unlikely to last long enough to bridge the economy to the rebound that is expected to come when the coronavirus vaccines reach mass distribution. But if passed soon, it could send money out quickly, which would help the stalling economy.

“You get most of the way there, you don’t turn around at the end,” said Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, one of several Republican governors who has called for more federal aid. “We can’t stop now, and I guess I would say that to my friends in Congress: We need your help one more time here. Help get us through what’s going to be a very tough winter.”

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