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    Biden, Calling Covid Relief Bill a ‘Down Payment,’ Urges More Relief

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Coronavirus OutbreakliveLatest UpdatesMaps and CasesThe Stimulus DealThe Latest Vaccine InformationF.A.Q.AdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyBiden, Calling Stimulus Bill a ‘Down Payment,’ Urges More ReliefThe president-elect said he would ask Congress soon after his inauguration to pass an additional coronavirus aid package with more money for firefighters, police officers and nurses.President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Tuesday in Wilmington, Del., that he had “been proven right” about the possibility of bipartisan compromise in Congress.Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York TimesThomas Kaplan, Annie Karni and Dec. 22, 2020WILMINGTON, Del. — A day after Congress approved a hard-fought $900 billion stimulus package, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. called the measure a “down payment” on Tuesday and vowed to enter office next month asking lawmakers to return to the negotiating table.“Congress did its job this week,” he said, “and I can and I must ask them to do it again next year.”In a year-end news conference in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden remained vague about the specifics of his plan. But he appeared to be laying the groundwork for how he will handle the country’s economic recovery, signaling that another major economic relief package would be a priority.Mr. Biden said he planned to ask Congress to pass another bill that would include more funding to help firefighters, police officers and nurses. He said that his bill would include a new round of stimulus checks to Americans, but that the amount of money they contained would be a matter of negotiation.His focus, he said, was to have the money necessary to distribute vaccines to 300 million people, to support Americans who have lost jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic and to help businesses stay open.“People are desperately hurting,” he said.President Trump also responded to the bill on Tuesday, hours after Mr. Biden’s news conference. In a video he posted on Twitter, Mr. Trump read from a prepared statement and complained about the legislation his advisers had said he would sign. “I’m asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple,” he said, calling the bill “a disgrace.”“It’s called the Covid relief bill, but it has almost nothing to do with Covid,” he said, noting that it included funding for the Egyptian military; money for countries like Honduras and Nicaragua; and support for the Kennedy Center in Washington.If Mr. Trump chooses not to immediately sign the bill, the government will still be funded through Monday, and Republicans have enough votes that they could override a potential veto. But the checks that his Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said would go out next week could be delayed.This month, when Senators Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, and Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, tried to unanimously force legislation that would provide larger direct payments of $1,200, a staunch Trump ally, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, blocked the endeavor.The $900 billion package Congress approved on Monday would provide billions of dollars for the distribution of vaccines and support for small businesses, schools and cultural institutions.It would also allocate a round of $600 direct payments to millions of American adults and children, as well as support a series of expanded and extended unemployment benefits for 11 weeks. Those programs will taper off, potentially prompting some form of congressional action before then.“I think everybody understands that Vice President Biden is going to ask for another bill, so we will have another chance to revisit it probably pretty soon,” Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, told reporters on Monday.Mr. Biden did not negotiate with lawmakers on the stimulus directly, but his incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, and other officials tapped to be part of the administration were kept abreast of the hour-by-hour developments in the talks, according to Democratic officials familiar with the situation.The Coronavirus Outbreak More

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    States Try to Rescue Small Businesses as U.S. Aid Is Snarled

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Coronavirus OutbreakliveLatest UpdatesMaps and CasesBritain’s Vaccine RolloutVaccine TrackerFAQ: Vaccines and MoreAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyStates Try to Rescue Small Businesses as U.S. Aid Is SnarledState governments are offering loans, grants and tax rebates, but budget constraints limit their impact.Kirk Meurer’s business installing office furniture in the Cleveland area dried up practically overnight when the pandemic began.Credit…Da’Shaunae Marisa for The New York TimesDec. 10, 2020, 5:00 a.m. ETWith the economic recovery faltering and federal aid stalled in Washington, state governments are stepping in to try to help small businesses survive the pandemic winter.The Colorado legislature held a special session last week to pass an economic aid package. Ohio is offering a new round of grants to restaurants, bars and other businesses affected by the pandemic. And in California, a new fund will use state money to backstop what could ultimately be hundreds of millions of dollars in private loans. Other states, led by both Republicans and Democrats, have announced or are considering similar measures.But there is a limit to what states can do. The pandemic has ravaged budgets, driving up costs and eroding tax revenues. And unlike the federal government, most states cannot run budget deficits.“We have done what we can do to pump money into small businesses so that people can continue to work,” said Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, a Republican. “From the jobs point of view and the economy point of view and the workers’ point of view and small businesses, we’ve got to get that help from the federal government. That’s the only place we can get it.”After months of false starts and on-again-off-again negotiations, there are signs of progress in Washington. Top Democrats last week embraced a $908 billion plan proposed by a bipartisan group of moderate senators. That plan would include nearly $300 billion in aid for small businesses, as well as smaller sums for unemployed workers, state and local governments and other groups. On Tuesday, the White House proposed its own $916 billion plan, which would include more than $400 billion for small businesses.But Democrats and Republicans still disagree on important issues, including aid for state and local governments and liability protection for businesses. Even if the two sides do reach a deal, it could be weeks before money starts flowing.Many small businesses say they can’t wait that long. A survey from the National Federation of Independent Business on Tuesday showed optimism falling and uncertainty rising as the nationwide surge in coronavirus cases leads governments to reimpose restrictions and consumers to pare their spending. Separate data from the Census Bureau shows an increasing share of small businesses cutting jobs, and other surveys have shown large numbers of businesses in danger of failing.If that happens, it could be a disaster for both state economies and state budgets. Local businesses are major sources of tax revenue — both directly and through their employees — and major drivers of economic activity. If they fail in large numbers, it will slow the economic recovery once the pandemic is over.“It becomes almost a death spiral if you can’t keep these businesses running,” said Tim Goodrich, executive director of state government relations for the National Federation of Independent Business.Kirk Meurer was on track to have one of his best years ever in his business installing office furniture in the Cleveland area. But when companies began sending their workers home last spring, his business dried up practically overnight.“Even though we didn’t have to shut down like the restaurants and bars and the travel industries, it didn’t matter,” he said. “The business wasn’t there.”After some delays, Mr. Meurer got money through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which he thought would be enough to sustain him until business rebounded. But as the pandemic dragged on and offices pushed back their reopening dates to the summer, then to the fall, then into next year, it became clear the company would need more help to survive.“It’s amazing how fast you can burn through money when you’ve got nothing coming in and all the overhead to maintain,” Mr. Meurer said.In recent weeks, his company, Modular Systems Technicians, received a $10,000 grant from a new state fund to help small businesses. He also got money under a program that refunded $8 billion from the state workers’ compensation fund.“It helped,” Mr. Meurer he said. “It’s not nearly enough, but they did what they could.”The money for the Ohio grant program, and from some other recent state aid efforts, actually came from the federal government. As part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act last spring, Congress created a $150 billion fund that states could tap in responding to the virus. They were given wide latitude in using the money — as long as they did so before the end of the year.As the pandemic has flared anew, however, it has become clear that the economic crisis will last well into next year, by which point the federal money will be gone and state budgets will be unable to pick up the slack. So states are racing to use what’s left of the CARES Act money to shore up their economies and build a buffer for the winter.“I think they’re terrified,” said Joseph Parilla, a fellow at the Brookings Institution who has studied state responses to the pandemic. “If they’re paying attention, they should be.”Eden Stein isn’t sure how much longer her San Francisco gallery and boutique can continue.Credit…Christie Hemm Klok for The New York TimesGov. Jared Polis of Colorado, a Democrat, recalled the legislature for a special session late last month to pass several relief measures, including a $57 million grant program for small businesses. In an interview, he cited Colorado’s slow recovery from the last recession a decade ago, when the failure to contain the foreclosure crisis left lasting scars on the state’s economy. Without further assistance — including federal aid — he fears a wave of business failures that would set off an equally damaging chain reaction, he said.“If we don’t help them get through this, will it ever come back?” Mr. Polis asked. “Sure, but it means years of boarded-up stores and restaurants on Main Streets across America if Democrats and Republicans can’t come together now to act.”Some states are trying creative ways to stretch resources. California last month established a “rebuilding fund,” which will use a comparatively small amount of public money to provide loan guarantees to encourage for-profit and nonprofit lenders to make low-interest loans to small businesses.The California program is aimed at the smallest businesses — most with fewer than 10 employees — and those in low-income and minority neighborhoods. Many were left out of the federal aid programs like the Paycheck Protection Program, which primarily helped somewhat larger employers.“P.P.P. never really served these kinds of businesses very well,” said Laura D. Tyson, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who helped design California’s program. “More and more of them are boarding up and closing down, and it’s a real hit to the community, a real hit to the quality of life in these communities.”Ms. Tyson said the loans should help businesses make investments to adapt to life during the pandemic — like investing in online ordering technology or outdoor dining — or to position themselves for the post-pandemic world. But the state can’t afford to cover day-to-day expenses the way the federal government did in the spring.Secession Art & Design, a gallery and boutique in San Francisco, has survived the first nine months of the pandemic through a combination of loans, donations from customers and an aggressive shift in strategy toward online sales, which had been only a small part of the business.But Eden Stein, who owns the 13-year-old business, said she wasn’t sure how long that could continue. California is reimposing restrictions on retail businesses, which could hurt sales during what she calls a make-or-break holiday season. Her lease is up in the spring, and she hasn’t decided whether to renew it.Ms. Stein is thinking of applying for a rebuilding loan from the state but is nervous about taking on more debt. She is applying for a grant under a separate state program, but that won’t be enough to sustain the business. She doesn’t know what the local economy will look like after the pandemic, she said, but it is essential for small businesses to have enough confidence to renew leases and plan for the long term.“I’m not concerned about how hard I can work, how I can connect with my customers or my community,” Ms. Stein said. “I am concerned that I will eventually run out of money.”AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    In Blue States and Red, Pandemic Upends Public Services and Jobs

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Coronavirus OutbreakliveLatest UpdatesMaps and CasesC.D.C. Shortens Quarantine PeriodsVaccine TrackerFAQAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyIn Blue States and Red, Pandemic Upends Public Services and JobsAs a standoff over federal aid persists, state and local governments are making deep budget cuts. “Everything’s going to slow down,” one official said.Republican-led states that largely depend on energy-related taxes, like Wyoming, have been walloped by the sharp decline in oil prices.Credit…Stephen Speranza for The New York TimesBy More

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    After Biden Win, Nation’s Republicans Fear the Economy Ahead

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Coronavirus OutbreakliveLatest UpdatesMaps and CasesWho Gets the Vaccine First?Vaccine TrackerFAQAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyAfter Biden Win, Nation’s Republicans Fear the Economy AheadPolling shows that Republicans have turned bearish on the outlook for their family finances since the election, while Democratic optimism is rising.By More