After months of stalled negotiations and partisan delays, Congress has finally reached a compromise deal on a coronavirus relief package that includes funding for $600 in direct assistance to many American workers and their families.
According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin, the $600 direct payments could be sent out as soon as next week, providing a measure of economic assistance for those who have been struggling with the financial impact of the pandemic just prior to the end of the year.
COVID relief checks on the way
Mnuchin’s prediction came on Monday several hours prior to both chambers of Congress voting on and passing the $900 billion COVID relief bill, which was attached to a broader $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill.
Speaking with CNBC‘s Jim Cramer, Mnuchin issued high praise for the compromise that had finally been reached and made note of the fact that President Donald Trump had been insistent upon the deal including direct assistance for the American people.
“The President wanted direct payments so, we will be sending out next week direct deposit,” Mnuchin said. “I expect we’ll get the money out by the beginning of next week, $2,400 for a family of four, so much needed relief just in time for the holidays.”
The secretary also noted that the deal included hundreds of billions in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program to once again distribute loans to small businesses, particularly restaurants, so that those business owners can keep their employees paid.
To save or to spend?
Mnuchin later addressed concerns that the $600 checks might go to some people who didn’t need it or be invested and saved instead of spent, negating the purpose of it being an economic stimulus. He argued that all evidence he has seen indicates that the money will be quickly spent in a manner that would help boost the economy.
“This is a very, very fast way of getting money into the economy and again, let me emphasize that people are going to see this money the beginning of next week, so it’s very fast,” Mnunchin said.
“It’s money that gets recirculated in the economy, so people go out and spend this money and that helps small business and that helps getting more people back to work,” the secretary added.
The issue of whether the $600 checks would be spent or saved came up again near the end of the interview, and Mnuchin reiterated, “Again, the effective part about the direct payments is they get into the economy very quickly, as you said you can’t target them, but the fact that we can get this much money into the economy in one week.”
“Let me tell you, I spoke to many CEOs who saw their business kind of — the minute that money came into the bank account, they saw their, their business increase, and if some people who had extra money were fortunate enough to invest in the stock market at 18 or 20,000, they’re doing pretty well today,” the secretary added.
Waiting on Trump’s signature
According to ABC News, the COVID relief bill paired with the omnibus spending package passed both chambers of Congress with overwhelming bipartisan votes of support. Those bills have now been sent to President Trump’s desk, where it is expected that he will sign both — despite outcry from both sides of the aisle regarding the manner in which the bills were negotiated and the inclusion of hundreds of billions in unrelated pork for special interests and foreign nations.