Zain Qureshi ’22 Opinion Editor
Despite the recent prosperity of the 2010s, 25 percent of Americans have no emergency funds, and another 23 percent have only enough in savings to cover their bills for one to three weeks. In other words, almost a majority of Americans do not have the necessary savings to face an unexpected crisis when they would need them to survive. Unfortunately, the unexpected crisis is here, the coronavirus, and many families do not know how they will make it through the next few weeks as their savings start to fall to zero.
The coronavirus has caused unemployment to skyrocket; companies are laying their workers off in droves; and many businesses are temporarily shutting their doors as the virus spreads around the world. In times of need, we look to our elected officials to help, but they have not delivered. Currently, the US plan for emergency funds is a one-time check of $1,200 allocated to most American adults who file taxes with the IRS. While this may provide some relief, it is not a solution to most families’ problems. A one-time check is not enough for low-income Americans to survive. Many business owners have no income right now, and many of those business owners live paycheck to paycheck with no savings in the bank. While $1,200 dollars may be a short term solution, it will not be able to sustain these families for the duration of the pandemic, which may resurge in waves even after the initial spread of infection subsides.
In addition, this bill does not help most of the people whose need for emergency funds right now is highest. Many low-income Americans are not registered with the IRS, as they owe no income tax. Now they are supposed to register directly with the IRS in order to receive their checks, but many are unaware of this. Unemployed people, those who are struggling the most right now, may not receive their checks. In addition, many people with disabilities and many elderly citizens across the US may not be able to receive funds, as they too are not required to register with the IRS. Congress and the White House seem to have designed the relief plan for the stereotypical American family, one with a stable income living in the suburbs, but they missed the millions of Americans of low-income, old age, and disability who need relief the most.
$1,200 is simply a drop in the bucket of need for a family during the pandemic and the accompanying recession. As a country, Americans do not know how long it will be before they are able to return to a normal daily routine. Already, many Republican senators, such as Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), have come out against a second check to the American people. In order to truly help families survive this pandemic, providing monthly checks is necessary. Universal Basic Income in the time of coronavirus could help families in all types of predicaments survive this pandemic. Countries such as Spain and Canada are already trying to implement that type of system to aid those that have been temporarily unemployed, and it could work in the US as well. UBI is not a temporary fix, it is a long-term solution. Representatives and senators across the country have already called for the implementation of some kind of long-term relief plan, and it is the response needed by the country in order to continue fighting.
All around America, families are struggling to survive. Most have no savings, and many are being laid off as coronavirus spreads. A $1,200 check may help Americans for a few weeks, but it is clear that it will take longer than a few weeks to contain this virus. Americans need a solution, not a temporary fix. The government must ensure that all Americans in need will receive aid, and that nobody will be excluded. Americans need help, and a one time check is not a solution.