Reflecting back on my childhood, the week after Labor Day was usually a time when I was feeling a range of emotions from excitement (to see many of my school friends whom I missed over the summer) to some apprehension about the new school year. This year, the vibe for both students and parents is different because of COVID-19.
When “The CARES Act” was enacted in late March everybody knew the $600/week unemployment bonus was expiring on July 31, 2020. If politics were like golf, originally (in July) the Senate was playing for the “COVID” 19th hole, whereas the House of Representatives was playing for the next round. The Senate said they would be willing to address the unemployment issue by itself, while the House of Representatives was holding out for a “new comprehensive package.”
RESULTS: Both parties went on vacation for the first 2 weeks of August. President Trump then signed an executive order to cut these benefits in half ($300/week) with the states (most of whom are broke) expected to kick in an additional $100. For New York State, Governor Cuomo’s office calculated that bill would add an additional $4.2 Billion to the $30 Billion we are already in the hole. It is unlikely that most people will receive the extra $100 any time soon. As of this writing, it is not clear if anyone has received the said $300/week which should be retroactive to August 1st.
When the President made comments about the United States Post Office, the House of Representatives reconvened (and flip-flopped) that weekend to address just that Post Office issue, leaving The NOBODY “CARES ACT” dormant through the month of August. Does this mean that “their votes” are more important than the people and families they represent? It is time the leaders who represent us put our needs before their own!
In addition, the $1,200 stipend and The Triple P (Payroll Protection Program) money from the NOBODY “CARES ACT” has mostly dried up (it ended in August) as business owners have been paralyzed due to conflicting rules and uncertainty as to when and how they can reopen. To complicate matters, the Federal Government is facing a shutdown on September 30th and the USA’s cumulative debt is on schedule to eclipse the size of our economy next year. We would be joining Japan, Italy, and Greece with debts larger than their economy. It’s expected that U.S. debt will be equal to 98% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by year-end.
The restaurant industry in New York City has felt the brunt of these political decisions. Queens restaurants, in particular, have been hamstrung by this as Rockaway residents can drive 20 minutes and be on Long Island to enjoy alcohol and indoor dining. New York City and New York State have had the lowest COVID-19 positivity rates (by the percentage of tests) in the country for some time now. Alcohol (which I call truth-serum) has been a big factor in COVID-19 spiking, especially in colleges. Why not allow city restaurants to reopen first with no alcohol? Malls and Casinos are now opening (at 50% and 25% capacity, respectively). The current explanation for not allowing city restaurants to open for indoor dining is because the SLA (State Liquor Authority) and the New York State “Task Force” does not have enough employees to inspect the restaurants. Inspections could be easier (and take less time) if this short-term compromise is proposed. Instead, lawsuits will bring longer delays before the cold weather is upon us.
All these economic decisions have ripple effects and are interrelated. Take the “school dilemma” for example. What is now happening is that child-care needs are affecting jobs. Families either cannot find or afford home care for stay-at-home students. This is causing secondary wage earners (the majority are women) to give up their jobs even though they are in their prime income-earning years (ages 25-54). For some households, that $300+ per week check could make the difference and save those jobs.
It is not all “gloom and doom!” Although conducting business will be difficult this fall in many professions, there are planning strategies available to us in order to overcome these roadblocks. Stay tuned to this column for more creative ideas on how to do so and KEEP THE FAITH! Feel free to reach out to me at Rob@InsuranceDoctor.us to continue these discussions, for a personal review, or if there are topics you want to learn about, do not hesitate to contact me!
The Insurance Doctor