In the face of the economic repecussions of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the US Senate, led by Republicans, sought last Monday to enact a massive $1.8-trillion aid bill.
It included a plan for direct cash payments to many Americans. Hundreds of billions of dollars would be sent in checks — $1,200 per adult for many families as well as $500 for every child. The size of the checks would diminish for those earning more than $75,000 a month and phase out completely for those earning more than $99,000. Poorer families would be given not less than $600 a month.
It also included $350 billion for small businesses to stem the tide of layoffs and more billions for hospitals. And it set aside a massive $500 billion as aid to businesses, states, and localities – all at the discretion of the administration’s Treasury Department.
Democratic senators raised many questions about the bill, including the outright giving of thousands of dollars to families, the bigger amounts for middle-class families and the smaller amounts for poor families. But their main objection was the $500 billion for big businesses in amounts and under conditions at the discretion of the Trump administration.
The US Senate voted on the bill last Monday — a 47-47 split. Sixty votes are needed to approve it and send It to the House of Representatives which world have to approve it also.
Our own Philippine government has also moved to provide aid to families hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Congress held a “virtual” special session yesterday an d approved the realignment of P275 billion in government funds.
President Duterte was authorized to use the P275 billion to help those who have suffered the most from the quarantine ordered by the government to stop the spread of COVID-19. The administration reportedly plans to provide P8,000 assistance to each of 17.9 Filipinos for their food needs during the enhanced community quarantine period.
The Senate is also seeking the realignment of another P200 billion of appropriated funds for two months, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
In the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, countries around the world are seeking ways to solve the problems It has bought about. There may be differences in emphasis and approach, but all the efforts seek to help the people along with their institutions.
Our Philippine officials have chosen to focus any aid on the poorest in our country. We just hope that will reach them quickly enough, especially those who had been living a day-to-day existence even before the lockdown.