Commentary

Originally published in The Mercury News

By Dianne Feinstein:

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell late last month said the outlook for the U.S. economy is “extraordinarily uncertain and will depend in large part on our success in containing the virus.”

Employment data illustrates this uncertainty: While the economy added 4.8 million jobs in June, a record number, that progress is threatened by a renewed surge of coronavirus cases. And to make matters worse, many Americans laid off since March are finding their old jobs are no longer there for them to return to.

The success we have experienced can be attributed to the CARES Act. This law has helped nearly 5 million small businesses remain afloat and prevented millions of layoffs from becoming permanent.

In addition to helping businesses maintain their payroll, the CARES Act provided $1,200 to most Americans to help pay bills and stimulate spending. Expanded unemployment benefits — an additional $600 per week — helped tens of millions more. All told, approximately 12 million Americans remained above the poverty line because of this intervention.