Student Opinion: A Second Stimulus Package Writes Smaller Checks

(Stefani Reynolds)

By Jacob Vito

2020 will likely be remembered as a year without mercy from a spreading pandemic to a slowing economy. Though it has taken them far longer than hoped, it seems Congress has finally come forward with a response to such distressing times.

According to the New York Times, after weeks of deliberation, a $2.3 trillion budget deal has passed through Congress. The deal includes 900 billion for a new coronavirus-focused stimulus package to help households and businesses during the pandemic. 

For much of December, discussions over this wave of COVID-19 aid had ground to a halt. Members of Congress like AOC and Bernie Sanders argued for an additional round of $1200 checks, while many Republicans were looking to cut down on aid being sent to the states. 

The final bill ended up becoming a middle ground between liberal and conservative positions in many regards. Even the stimulus plan’s total budget of $900 billion sits snugly between the Democrats’ $1.8 trillion proposal and Republicans’ more strict $500 billion. Of course, the central piece of the package is an additional wave of direct stimulus checks. 

However, the upcoming checks will only be worth $600, half of the amount given through a similar package last spring, according to a CNBC report. Democrats like Nancy Pelosi have argued that the checks may be less, yet they should still help people pay their bills during these trying times.

But $600 isn’t going to be enough. 

$600 can’t replace a lost job. It can’t even pay for a single month of rent for the average household, according to Business Insider. Sure, this will certainly help some make their bills, but even suggesting that this was an adequate response to one of the largest economic collapses in history is at best an innocent error and at worst an outright lie. 

It is comically obvious how little this $600 check will pay for, especially considering those most in need of it will likely not receive their normal avenues of income. If the government concluded it needed to help its own people, what’s the point of only giving $600?

Above everything else, Congress’ scramble over aid attempts to find the lowest possible amount of money that they can give the American people to keep them from rioting. In the spring, $1200 did the trick, at least until the George Floyd protests, so this time, they’re trying a lower amount. 

With a rare exception, members of the House and Senate are not looking out for Americans. There would be much more aid to small businesses and individuals than impossible-to-apply-for loans and two checks in the mail if they were. Instead, they’re trying to walk a fine line between leaving people to suffer and having them protest en masse. 

For a little while, it’s been working. However, things are only getting worse for most people right now. Small businesses are running out of their reserves and have begun to close in larger numbers than before. People got fired from jobs that have not and likely will never come back. Ahead of the United States looms the potential for the worst depression it’s ever had. 

So, what is the solution? With such monumental consequences at stake, what can people do to force a better situation?

Since the elections have passed, many representatives have entered a time when they feel they don’t have to care about their constituents for a few years. Many people only communicate their political will through the ballot box, and so to a politician, their opinions on individual issues during times like these don’t matter very much.

Don’t let that happen.

Make life as difficult for the representatives in Washington as it is for everyone else. Organize, call, protest, engage in as much loud and disruptive political action as possible because that is the only way that they will realize how little their solution can resolve. 

But above all, I truly believe that a better world is possible. The most powerful thing that the status quo can do is convince those under it that there is no better alternative. However, the alternative to Congress’ inaction is action, and any kind of aid or support is better than what’s being given now.

Do not fall into the trap of believing that $600 is as good as it gets because the country already knows that’s not true. So, rather than slipping into resignation, get disruptive, be loud and make the U.S. realize that it deserves better.

Jacob Vito is a first-year Community and Regional Development major at UC Davis. He is from western Pennsylvania.

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  1. Alan Miller

    But $600 isn’t going to be enough.

    This article forgot to mention that the Democrats negotiated down to $600, but Donald Trump is arguing for $2000.

    Is that going to be enough?

        1. David Greenwald

          The Democrats weren’t the ones that negotiated the stimulus down to $600, the Republicans were. The Democrats wanted it at $1200 and progressives had wanted much more.

  2. Chris Griffith

    My lack of understanding evades me forgive me. I have seen hundreds of forums, thousands of comments and what I have found is very concerning. Whether I agree or disagree with anyone, one thing stands out above all. There are millions of people that base their survival on the government and are dependant upon the government to exist. None of these people would be able to survive on their own. It never use to be this way, there was a time when peopled survived on their own and raised their families just fine. We have all become so preoccupied about governments saving us that we have lost all perspective on life itself we have lost the traditional American values that made it possible for us to be here today by those before us.Many people scream about the government, law enforcement ect. and yes protest, yet we all call 911 when we need help, call on the government to help in tragic events of devastation and want government funding. Even the protesters protest while receiving government unemployment money. Everyone is crying about free money, people have become so programmed by the government they are lost in a state of confusion. They love the government when they hand out free money, yet hate the government when they don’t get what they want. When did we surrender our lives to the government? You would think after so many years people would realize the government is not going to save you, they never have and they never will. But there is one thing we’re going to get from our government and that’s higher taxes you can count on that one

    1. Mark West

      “It never use to be this way, there was a time when peopled survived on their own and raised their families just fine.”

      That is largely because a couple of generations ago, most jobs paid a living wage, even manual labor. That is no longer true after decades of transferring wealth from workers to corporate investors and management. If we go back to paying real wages there would be much less need for government handouts.

      1. Chris Griffith

        So with your line of thinking the above article should be rewarded to look something like this.



        To Celebrate COVID Relief, McDonald’s Introduces The $600 McStimulus Burger


        U.S.—Now that Congress has passed a relief package to give a life-changing sum of $600 to American citizens, retailers and restaurants are preparing to adjust for the runaway inflation that will follow due to printing trillions of dollars. To celebrate the changing times, McDonald’s has announced its latest hot menu item: the McStimulus.



        The McStimulus will cost $600 and will feature a 100% allegedly real pork patty topped with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and shredded dollar bills shipped fresh from the U.S. Treasury.


        “McDonald’s has been faithfully serving the public during this COVID crisis,” said McDonald’s founder Bob McDonald’s, “but the dollar menu items have to go. Money is meaningless now. We can’t support our corporation charging one dollar for burgers when the government is doling out billions of freshly printed money to the people!”


        Economists report that other fast-food chains are following suit, and predict that the average fast-food stop will cost $1,200 within 3 or 4 years.


        Retailers and streaming services are also taking advantage of COVID relief. Netflix is expected to increase the cost of its streaming service to $599 per month by the end of the year. Nike is introducing a pair of $600 Air Stimulus basketball shoes. Hundreds of other companies have announced exciting new products in the $600 range as well.


        McDonald’s is promising to release its hotly anticipated McMillion Burger within a decade.





      2. David Greenwald

        And they didn’t Mark. In 1900 for example the poverty rate in the US was 56 percent, for many of them it was deep poverty. There was a huge problem with malnutrition for children which also led to a very high mortality rate. This idea that people were just fine ignores history.

        1. David Greenwald

          “By the first decade of the twentieth century, pediatricians generally acknowledged that malnutrition was a widespread and pervasive problem. “That improper and unscientific feeding of children from the time of birth to maturity is one of the most fruitful causes, both directly and indi-rectly, of disease, disability, incapacity for work, both mental and physical, loss of energy, susceptibility to contract and inability to withstand disease,” observed the pediatrician E. Mather Sill in 1910, “everyone who has had wide experience must admit.”

          In 1900, 30 percent of all deaths in the United States occurred in children less than 5 years of age compared to just 1.4 percent in 1999. But hey, everyone was just fine, right?

        2. Ron Oertel

          In 1900, 30 percent of all deaths in the United States occurred in children less than 5 years of age compared to just 1.4 percent in 1999. But hey, everyone was just fine, right?

          Maybe not everyone, but families did have a whole flock of them in those days.  As with most animals with higher mortality rates – if you have enough, some will survive. (No – not what I’m “advocating”.)

          Not sure that this was completely related to poverty.

          But it seems to me that the poorest among us still rely upon the “have enough of them” approach, for some reason. (In the old days, kids actually helped families to survive, so maybe it’s an extension of that type of thinking.)

          Unlike now, where they’re pretty much a financial drain, who might “occasionally” mow the lawn for you. That is, if they haven’t outlawed lawns, yet.)


        3. Alan Miller

          This idea that people were just fine ignores history.

          That’s like when people talk about the 1950’s and how great everything was, ignoring that racism wasn’t just systemic, it was written into law and actively enforced.  I’m sure the 1950’s were “fine” for some people.

          I agree with CG’s missive on how people want government to do everything and fund everything, but you lose me at the ‘people used to be just fine’ department.  No, it was fine for a certain segment of society, and they did mostly get by without the government – but that was built on the backs of outright sinful practices against natives, African Americans, etc. How it all comes together for me is that lack of dependence/hope from the government is a strong value, and opportunity for all is a strong value – what I believe you, CG, are trying to convey – but the old days are not the model from which to bring these values forward to 2022.

          1. David Greenwald

            It’s definitely a valid argument – what the solution is. But basing it on the good old days is a flawed argument.

        4. Mark West

          “In 1900 for example…”

          I consider a ‘generation’ to be 20-25 years, so two generations puts us back in the late 60’s and 70’s, not 1900. Acknowledging that there were (and still are) great disparities based on race, the reality is that full-time workers were better able to support their families without need of handouts. The shift away from that reality accelerated in the mid 70’s and 80’s when conservatives took control and started drastically reducing taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and changing laws to prioritize investors over workers. The end result has been a reduction in real wages for workers and an accumulation of wealth into the hands of the elite. What followed was the near complete destruction of both the working and middle classes. If your were already wealthy, Reaganomics (and what followed) has been an overwhelming success. If you were not already wealthy, Republican lawmakers and their Federalist Society (created to accumulate wealth and power) didn’t care about you, and still don’t.

      1. Ron Glick

        There was a time when people lived in caves.

        There was a time when people were in bread lines. Oh that was yesterday.

        There was a time before medicare, social security, public schools, student nutrition programs, unemployment insurance, fiat currency, central banks, free trade, farm subsidies, pollution control, pure foods and pure drugs, vaccines, motors, clean water, clean air, disability insurance, sanitation and income taxes.

        There was a time before lots of things.The question is are you better off today than before all these things? Its doubtful you were better off back in the day when life expectancy averaged around thirty years.

  3. Ron Oertel

    It never use to be this way, there was a time when peopled survived on their own and raised their families just fine.

    In keeping with this theme, I was reading an article some time ago regarding one-room schoolhouses, some of which can still be seen to this day around California.  (I think I know of one in Yolo county, and several around Sonoma county.)  Most of them have now reverted back to private residences, or were torn down.

    As I recall, someone would donate a piece of property, and the parents would chip-in on (or directly help with) the construction (and presumably – pay the schoolteacher).  I’ll see if I can find an article regarding this.

    To some degree, the “back-to-the-land” movement of the late 1960s to early 1970’s reflected this thinking, as well.

    Of course, the Quakers live this way (and we, as a society, make fun of them for that).


    1. Ron Oertel

      Amish – not Quakers. I added that at the last minute, and got it wrong.

      The Quakers are the “oat” people, I guess. 😉

      I am not the best source for references to religions.

  4. Bill Marshall

    Back on topic… most folk don’t need $600-2000… the folk unemployed due to Covid implictions need much more… the bill was poorly structured, to be sure… yet the argument re: $600-2000 screws the unemployed due to Covid… no unemployment benefit extensions, no direct payments… nada…

    Republicans and Democrats need to “own” the screwing… the trump card was played by the POTUS… he ‘wanted more’ for everyone, regardless of “need”, probably knowing that he could “pocket veto” everything, appear to support ‘Joe Six-pack’, knowing that Demos would jump at the chance, and Republicans woud block it (which they have)… bottom line, nothing for the folk most in need, and able to “wash his hands”, and wait for the new administration to try and deal with the real ‘needs’…

    A ‘pox (and/or Covid) on them all’…

    I’d gladly give up any “across the board” payment, and have that $$$ used to support the ones who have truly been ‘hurt’ (or minimize Federal deficit/inflation)… but neither conservatives nor liberals appear to want to “go there”… a pox (or Covid) upon each of them…

    Anything we get from the ‘across the board’ payments will go to charities for those who are hurting… I seriously doubt anyone else here will do likewise… based on previous comments/responses… in the meantime, those most hurting will get nada, except for folk like us who realize the true needs, who will increase further our charitable giving… we do not expect  POTUS or Congress to actually do anything in the next 2-3 monhs… in the meantime, there is real suffering… yet most of us are doing fine…


    1. Alan Miller

      I seriously doubt anyone else here will do likewise…

      I actually did last time, but I’m too humble to say so on this blog.  Well, until you challenged us, WM!  I’m not that dam* humble 😐

      (and maybe will encourage others to do the same . . . )

    2. David Greenwald

      You’re missing something. The Democrats and Repbulicans fought to get a compromise deal. Trump gave all indications he would sign it. Then suddenly at the last second he shifted the ground under them. That’s not a good way to operate.

  5. Alan Miller

    Republicans and Democrats need to “own” the screwing…

    They only need to blame the other party.  As long as folks remain blinded by party politics, by us-vs-them, by believing that ‘our side’ wouldn’t have done the same thing if the shoe were on the other foot —->  then all who participate prevent anyone owning up to the screwing by both parties.  Any screwing – the ones that take place regularly.  Thanks party loyalists.  Thanks for the Republicrat/Democan mess.

  6. Bill Marshall

    Maybe not everyone, but families did have a whole flock of them in those days.  As with most animals with higher mortality rates – if you have enough, some will survive. (No – not what I’m “advocating”.)

    Previous posts of yours belie that… and is very ‘prejudiced’, and disparaging, in my view…


    Amish – not Quakers. I added that at the last minute, and got it wrong.
    The Quakers are the “oat” people, I guess. 
    I am not the best source for references to religions.

    Last sentence is “spot on”!  Both the Quakers (actually, Society of Friends… ‘Quakers’ was meant as a disparaging term, originally!), and the Amish are of no different “religion” than Cathoics, or Protestant denominations… they ‘practice’ their faith with different nuances (to be sure), but all have the same, basic religion… what you said was to imply that Orthodox, Conservative, Reform Jews are from different ‘religions’…

    I wanted to post this yesterday but spouse had earlier ‘advised me’ to respect the day… so I did.

    Several of your posts seem to suggest that the only scripture you care about is the “Word According to Ron O”… you were very disrespectful, belittling of others, so I call you on that… particularly on the 25th of December, but actually, at any time… a lot of evidence, cultural and otherwise, that the person known as Jesus was NOT born on December 25th… it was chosen as a commerative feast day, not as a historical fact…

    [BTW, the Christian Easter, is tied to the Jewish Passover, which is a lunar calendar thing (floating)… and again, not a historical “date” by any past or current calendar… it is, as Tevye might say “tradition!”…]

    Yeah Ron, you have little clue as to religions…



    1. Ron Oertel

      Previous posts of yours belie that… and is very ‘prejudiced’, and disparaging, in my view…

      It’s factual, but written in a somewhat purposefully-provocative manner.  Humans are, in fact, part of the natural world.  And did have a lot more children in the “old days” – more of which did not survive until adulthood – as David noted.

      Pioneer cemeteries are (sadly) full of graves of children. But despite what David implied, that is not necessarily a “racial” issue.

      “particularly on the 25th of December, but actually, at any time… a lot of evidence, cultural and otherwise, that the person known as Jesus was NOT born on December 25th… it was chosen as a commerative feast day, not as a historical fact…”

      Yeah – that’s important.

      Sounds like you think the Vanguard should have been shut down, on that day.

      You’ll note that my comment actually defended the Amish (self-sufficient) way-of-life, in a sense. But it wasn’t the main point, as that practice is not limited to the Amish, or to those who reject technology.

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