On Oct. 8, as Arkansas Business went to press, various political debate stories had knocked off the front page an issue far more important to Arkansas businesses: Is Congress going to approve another economic stimulus package so Arkansans can keep their businesses afloat in the face of a pandemic?
As of press time, the answer wasn’t clear.
This is an Opinion
The White House and House Demo-crats had been working intermittently on a comprehensive aid package for U.S. businesses, with the House passing a $2.2 trillion aid bill and the White House proposing a $1.6 trillion measure in response.
That effort ended Tuesday when President Donald Trump called off the talks until after the election. That, however, sent the stock market down, and Trump appeared to backtrack later, giving support to another $1,200 check sent directly to Americans as well as aid to the airline industry and a revival of the Paycheck Protection Program aimed at small businesses.
Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chairman, and other economists have warned that assistance is needed if the U.S. economy is to recover. In a speech Tuesday, Powell said he “would argue that the risks of policy intervention are still asymmetric. Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses. Over time, household insolvencies and business bankruptcies would rise, harming the productive capacity of the economy, and holding back wage growth.
“By contrast, the risks of overdoing it seem, for now, to be smaller.”
There’s no doubt that the federal aid approved in the spring allowed many Arkansas businesses to survive. Urging Congress and the president to put aside their differences to pass an aid program now for the good of the country seems unbearably quaint these days, but we’ll do it anyway. We live in hope.