Despite tremendous progress toward vaccines for COVID-19, the United States must proceed with a massive federal aid package.
This is urgently needed to help the nation get through a fall and winter with surging infections, widespread shutdowns and financial devastation for many.
Only the federal government can provide the scale of aid needed to help millions of workers and employers.
State and local aid efforts are well intentioned but officials must be realistic. They simply cannot afford to make much difference without depleting funds needed for services, and forcing them to collect more taxes.
What’s mostly needed is Republicans and Democrats in Congress to negotiate in earnest on a relief package, now, and provide crisis leadership that’s not coming from the lame-duck, pouting president.
The urgency is underlined by the virus resurgence, prompting Washington’s new shutdown and similar measures in other states.
Gov. Jay Inslee was right to order new restrictions on gatherings and in-person activities for at least the next four weeks.
This will cause hardship — Washington already led the nation in new unemployment claims earlier this month, before Sunday’s shutdown order. But the state must aggressively reduce transmission and deaths and avoid overwhelming hospitals.
There is bipartisan support for such public-health measures.
Republican elected officials in Washington are right to chide Inslee for not involving them more in decision-making. But they can also help by pressuring Republicans in Congress to advance a new relief bill.
The House approved a $2.2 trillion relief package in October, more than the previous $2 trillion in relief that helped the economy along this year. But that proposal is stalled in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insists on $500 billion, with less for local governments.
Democrats on the Seattle City Council could do their part by cancelling annual 2.9 percent raises for city employees, in the budget now under consideration.
Councilmember Alex Pedersen wisely suggested at least halting the raise for higher paid employees, making at least 80 percent of the city’s median income.
Seattle budgeting may seem unrelated to the national situation, and savings from the raise would be relatively small, a maximum of $38 million.
But when high-profile cities give raises as constituents lose jobs and services, it gives ammunition to McConnell and those arguing for a smaller relief package and less for local governments.
Of course few municipalities are as wealthy and profligate as Seattle. But the city of CHOP has a knack for generating national talking points.
Tension over the size of the relief bill is expected. Lawmakers should negotiate, especially since it will be paid by credit, burdening future generations with massive debt.
But there’s a difference between prudence and miserliness.
The Senate deadlock and delays in providing further aid have become unconscionable, especially with economic shutdowns necessary for public health.
Another relief package cannot wait for the next administration. Further delay mean more people suffering, with many going hungry and losing homes as winter and holidays approach.