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Politics delays measure to help millions in U.S.

Partisan politics continues to delay enactment of a new coronavirus relief measure in Congress. Regardless of your political leanings, that is hurting millions of Americans.

Even emergency action taken by the White House has been affected. After negotiators in Congress deadlocked over a new relief bill last month, President Donald Trump authorized release of some money to keep augmented unemployment benefits flowing to those who have been laid off because of the epidemic-related business slowdown.

Under the White House plan, those who qualify can receive $300 per week in addition to normal unemployment benefits. But there is a catch: They also must be receiving at least $100 per week in aid paid for by the states where they live. While some states have been able to ensure that the $100 level is met, others have not. For low-wage workers who do not qualify for $100 or more in state benefits, that means no $300 from Washington.

A new federal relief package could straighten everything out quickly. But politics continues to delay an agreement on such a measure.

Both Republicans and Democrats should agree on a stripped-down relief bill in the $1 trillion range. It should include funding only for steps related directly to the epidemic. Aiding states with large debt problems not linked to COVID-19 should not be part of the compromise bill.

All Americans, and their leaders, also need to consider whether it would be better overall to free up the economy by letting all businesses reopen and people get back to work. A fully functioning economy eliminates the need for jobless benefits.

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