But clutter could have long-term consequences. After the last recession, the federal government withdrew aid before the economy had fully recovered, resulting in a slog that was particularly tough on black and Hispanic households.
And without help, the virus can push more businesses over the edge and affect the entire economy.
“You are never quite sure that you are nearing a tipping point where there is enough incentive to keep you from tipping over,” said Chris Varvares, co-director of US economics at IHS Markit, a forecasting firm. “In particular for the affected families who are about to be evicted or against whom foreclosure proceedings are to be initiated, or for small business owners who are about to throw in the towel, the incentive could be this lifeline.”
Economists broadly agree that Congress should focus on helping state and local governments, helping small businesses, and extending the expanded unemployment benefit programs due to expire later this year. Mr Biden discussed a similar list of priorities Thursday with senior Congressional Democrats, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. This emerges from a summary of the participants.
On Friday, Mr Biden’s transition adviser Jen Psaki brushed aside several questions from reporters about the president-elect’s views on the size and timing of a stimulus package, other than saying that “Talks have begun on Capitol Hill, to which he is engaged.” “
“You should expect that he will continue to be involved in these discussions,” said Ms. Psaki, “and definitely want the American people to get the relief they need.”
Many economists agree that speed is the most important thing. Karen Dynan, a Harvard economist and Treasury Department official in the Obama administration, said the better-than-expected economic data was no excuse to delay aid. Rather, she said it was evidence that the aid has been effective so far – and that Congress needs to do more when it fades.