US President Donald Trump signs the H.R. 748, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, in the Oval Office of the White House/Bloombergby Bloomberg
President Donald Trump signed the largest stimulus package in the US history, a $2 trillion bill intended to rescue the coronavirus-battered economy.
The hard-won plan will provide a massive injection of loans, tax breaks and direct payments to large corporations, small businesses and individuals whose revenue and income have plummeted under ‘social distancing’ restrictions meant to slow the spreading of the virus.
The US has become the worldwide epicentre of the epidemic, with more than 97,000 people infected, surpassing China.
President Trump urged Congress to quickly finalise the package, adding that it would deliver much-needed financial assistance to hardworking families and small businesses.
The prospect of a long-term blow to the economy has prompted the Trump administration to consider easing federal guidelines, despite warnings from governors and public health experts.
The US President has repeatedly spoken of ‘re-opening’ the country by Easter and he told governors he would rank different areas of the country based on risk level in order to allow states to eventually relax quarantine and social distancing measures.
The package provides around $500 billion in loans and other assistance for major companies, including $62 billion for the airline sector, as well as cities and states struggling with virus-related financial burdens.
Furthermore, the package includes $350 billion in aid for small businesses and offers $1,200 direct payments to middle- and low-income American adults, plus $500 for each child. Hospitals would receive $117 billion in assistance, as many become overwhelmed with virus patients. Unemployment insurance would also grow to $600 per week, on top of existing state benefits.
The size of the package far surpasses the $800 billion measure signed by former President Barack Obama following the 2008 financial crisis. Combined with Federal Reserve measures, it would provide around $6 trillion in stimulus to the economy.
Democrats had demanded transparency measures on the $500 billion corporate assistance fund and they ultimately won language requiring the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve to publish who receives loans every seven days.
The bill was held up for days until the language was added, sparking a round of partisan squabbling in Washington. Leaders also included conditions to the aid, including the ability of the Treasury Department to take equity stakes in companies that require cash assistance.