America needs stimulus relief
The issue: Erie economic downturn Our view: Stimulus overdue
President Donald Trump promised exuberant crowds at Erie International Airport Tuesday night the 'greatest economic year' in history. It is happening right now, he said.
Perhaps he should have stayed longer in Erie rather than cut the visit — which he said he made only to ask for votes — short. Trump boasted that historic unemployment rates at the outset of the pandemic had dropped to 7.8%. But in Erie, as reporter Jim Martin detailed, the pace of recovery lags. In August the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 11.2%, far above the then-national rate of 8.4%. Wabtec Corp. announced new layoffs just before Trump's visit.
Not all of the data is in to complete the Erie Leading Index, but Penn State Behrend Professor Ken Louie said it appears for the first time in a decade that Erie's economy is moving from expansion to decline. The Penn State Behrend Economic Research Institute of Erie tracks eight indicators to detect changes in the local economy.
The trend is not surprising given the wrecking ball the pandemic took to the global economy. But the time to take command of this carnage, confront the virus comprehensively and steer the country to recovery is past due.
Louie did not offer specific prescriptions for Erie's economic recovery except the need for stimulus. House Democrats first put forward their proposals for the next round of COVID-19 stimulus funding long months ago. So it is galling that the wrangling — with Senate Republicans and the White House divided on the scale and focus of the funding — continues.
The pandemic has plunged another 8 million Americans into poverty.
People face hunger and eviction and local and state governments risk insolvency and the prospect of layoffs and suspended services. Entities key to the recovery, from small businesses to the airlines, teeter on ruin.
As Louie said, 'It isn't as easy as it sounds to turn things around.'
Stimulus funds must be used to track and mitigate the virus and shore up those workers and industries who have paid a toll to keep Americans safe. States and local governments that face crippling tax revenue shortfalls need help now. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, Pennsylvania confronts a $4.5 billion deficit.
The president and Congress must act with Americans, not the upper hand, in mind.
It appeared Wednesday that the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were nearing agreement, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried and failed to pass a package less than half the size of the $2.2 trillion and $1.9 trillion packages eyed by Pelosi and the White House, respectively.
It is welcome to see the president join with Democrats to seek a package that matches the scale of the need.
Delivering relief to the American people is a winning strategy for both sides.