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The Implementation of the FFCRA Act and the CARES Act

Abstract

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals experienced serious health problems and had to undergo treatment. Yet, apart from the risks to people’s physical wellbeing, the virus also jeopardized the sustainability of world economies. In the United States, due to business activity restrictions and social distancing orders, many citizens lost their jobs and could not cover their basic expenses. Moreover, being unable to generate income, people often could not receive treatment and died. The FFCRA Act and the CARES Act are the two pieces of legislation that were proposed by the officials to resolve the aforementioned issues. The current paper investigates these two bills and determines whether the government has a right to introduce these acts.

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Defining the Problem

Overview

The COVID-19 pandemic put a considerable strain on countries’ economies worldwide, and the U.S. was not an exception. As a result, of the spread of the virus, many businesses made a decision to conduct downsizing, which led to numerous people being made redundant on their jobs. According to research, during the first two quarters of the year 2020, the number of employed workers decreased by twelve percent, with Hispanics and African-Americans being the most affected groups (Gemelas et al., 2021). Subsequently, hundreds of thousands of people lost their incomes and were forced to live off their savings or use their credit cards to survive the pandemic. Thus, the country faced the problem of citizens struggling financially due to losing their job and businesses unable to generate profit due to restrictions.

Root Causes

The U.S. federal government did not take any measures to contain the spread of the virus during the first weeks after it entered the country. Eventually, as more people got infected, the pandemic began, which could only be slowed with the help of strict social distancing rules. Some states, such as New York, implemented stay-at-home orders, which prevented many businesses from operating at their full capacity and led to layoffs (Caligiuri et al., 2020). Enterprises that relied heavily on exporting their products also encountered financial problems since the overall global trade during the pandemic experienced a slowdown (Vidya & Prabheesh, 2020). Thus, the primary causes of people and companies struggling financially during the pandemic were the government’s lack of early actions to contain the virus spreading, depressed global trade, and business operations restrictions.

Competing Interpretations

The major differences in the views of Democrats and Republicans on the problem of the pandemic and lack of financial security among the population were visible on the level of states. For instance, Democratic governors were more likely to implement stay-at-home orders, which positively affected the slowdown of the virus spreading (Baccini & Brodeur, 2020). Republican governors did not rush to introduce similar measures fearing the economic costs of instituting a ban on business operations. In terms of the parties’ response to the issue of pandemic relief, there was also a considerable difference. In the Senate, Democrats called for the extension of emergency benefits, while the republicans once again opposed this initiative, saying that large welfare funds would disincentivize people to work (Béland et al., 2020). Essentially, the conservatives did not want to support people during the pandemic with large benefits allocations, while the Democrats were openly in favor of the government’s financial assistance.

Impacts

Avoiding solving the problem of people not having enough resources during the pandemic can eventually lead to more negative outcomes. People without enough money to pay for rent can potentially face eviction and become homeless. They may also move into a more crowded apartment or house where there is a higher chance of getting infected with COVID-19 (Benfer et al., 2020). Moreover, individuals who do not have any savings and possess limited access to healthcare can die because of not being able to afford treatment. Families with children are particularly valuable to situations when they do not have much money since they generally require more resources. Food insecurity is another factor that is a direct consequence of the aforementioned problem, and poor nutrition is one of the key causes of respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 (Sinha, 2020). Thus, not acting immediately to solve the issue can yield worse problems in the long run.

Policy Alternatives

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The first solution proposed by the officials to counter the problem of a financially struggling population is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). This piece of legislation was targeted at expanding state funds for benefits for the unemployed (“Families First,” 2020). The measures outlined in the document had to help people overcome the negative impact of the pandemic on their financial status and ability to cover their basic expenses. The legislation also significantly contributed to the containment of the virus spreading by guaranteeing every citizen a right to receive free testing. According to research, the FFCRA played a significant role in allowing employees of small firms to take an emergency sick leave of two weeks and remain eligible for full pay (Pichler et al., 2020). It also guaranteed a paid medical leave for people who had to care for their sick children. Finally, the FFCRA allocated additional funding to food programs for children and women.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (Cares Act) was another major piece of legislation that was designed to address the pandemic-related financial problems of the citizens. The act included multiple provisions, and for instance, it provided more than one hundred billion dollars to the medical industry in order to contain the pandemic (“CARES Act,” 2020). It allocated funding for loans for which organizations, businesses, and states would be eligible, as well as introduced tax deferrals in order to promote economic recovery. The legislation further extended unemployment benefits by granting additional money to people who lost their job. Most importantly, according to the Cares Act, every U.S. citizen was eligible for a stimulus check of one thousand and two hundred dollars. The legislation sought to eradicate the financial struggles of the population by providing it with large economic benefits.

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The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Biblical guidelines

The FFCRA is legislation that is consistent with the Biblical principles and the basic ethical ideas of Christianity. This act is particularly beneficial for the poor, a group of people who, in the Christian worldview, must be seen as equal members of society (Monsma, 2008). Essentially, the legislation provides benefits for the most vulnerable groups in the country who at times even cannot afford to pay for food. The act also reflects the natural law, which governs the behavior of the majority of U.S. citizens. It is natural for people to help those in need, and the government, by introducing the FFCRA, performs its obligation as an institution that represents the perspective of the people. Additionally, by guaranteeing free virus testing to every member of the society, the act observes their inalienable right to life which both the Bible and the Constitution recognize.

Constitutional guidelines

The FFCRA is also consistent with the Constitution and does not violate any articles. For instance, according to Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 of the Constitution of the U.S., the government cannot appropriate any money if it was not authorized by Congress. Thus, according to this clause, the government has a right to allocate financial resources only after passing an act by Congress (“ArtI.S9.C7.1,” n.d.). The FFCRA observes this clause to prevent government overreach and ensure full compliance with the existing regulations. The FFCRA also recognizes the principle of federalism which draws a line between the federal and state authorities (Kraft & Furlong, 2017). The legislation does not include mandatory business restrictions, thus conveying all decisions concerning this matter to the state officials.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act

Biblical guidelines

The Cares act also adheres to biblical principles and the natural law established in the United States. For instance, it takes into consideration the principle of solidarity which postulates that every person must be responsible for the wellbeing of others (Monsma, 2008). By using taxes that are paid by all citizens, the government essentially distributes these resources by providing all members of society with financial support in the form of a stimulus check. The Cares act also concerns the concept of justice, which should be promoted by the authorities (Monsma, 2008). Since stay-at-home orders negatively impacted the financial situations of numerous businesses and individuals, providing them with stimulus, tax deferrals, and loans can be viewed as a way to install justice. The issue of business restrictions is connected to the inalienable right to freedom which the authorities did not respect during the pandemic.

Constitutional guidelines

The Cares act observes all of the constitutional guidelines despite the fact that initially, it raised certain concerns. For instance, it was first introduced in Congress as H.R. 748, which violated Article I, section 7, clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution. The clause states that those bills which raise revenue must originate in the House of Representatives (“ArtI.S7.C1.1.1,” n.d.). Thus, to resolve the issue, H.R. 748 served as a shell bill for the Cares act and was amended to include additional measures. Similar to the FFCRA, the act is also in accordance with Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 of the Constitution of the U.S. It postulates that money can be drawn from the Treasury only when Congress authorizes it.

Can

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Political feasibility

The FFCRA has a high chance of being passed in the House and the Senate because it reflects the needs of the citizens. According to one poll, more than seventy percent of the American public supported the provision of unemployment payments to those who lost their jobs during the pandemic (“Americans,” 2020). The act garnered the support of representatives of both U.S. parties, including high-ranking ones. For example, Nancy Pelosi published a statement where she noted that without free testing guaranteed by the act, the country could not counter the virus effectively (“Pelosi statement,” 2020). As a bill that is positively perceived by the members of the public and politicians, the chance of the FFCRA becoming law is exceptionally high. Moreover, the legislation constitutes the first attempt of the federal government to resolve the issues related to the pandemic, which were not previously addressed.

Financial feasibility

The FFCRA is a bill that involves extensive spending, which nevertheless much smaller than the one proposed by the CARES Act. According to Congressional Budget Office (2020), the act entails an increase of $192 billion in budget deficits over the next decade. Yet, despite its high cost to the country, this bill is essential for avoiding even worse economic circumstances in the future. As research indicates, rapid COVID-19 testing is an indispensable part of fast containment of the virus spreading (Harikrishnan & Krishnan, 2020). Ensuring free testing can help avoid unnecessary deaths and reduce the number of people infected with the disease. Not implementing the act also puts at risk thousands of unemployed people or could not receive paid sick leave.

Practical feasibility

Implementation of the FFCRA act requires taking certain steps which are necessary for its success. Since this bill guarantees everyone a right to free COVID-19 testing, the states have to support this initiative by providing the citizens with information on this topic. For instance, states have to set up websites where everyone would be able to access data on the closest testing facilities. In the years prior to the pandemic, the business community actively campaigned against paid family and sick leave legislation (Raabe & Theall, 2016). Thus, it can be expected that the new measures concerning this area may meet resistance from the employers. Moreover, according to the act, the unemployed who become eligible for additional benefits must also be informed about this possibility.

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The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act

Political feasibility

The CARES Act will certainly be popular among the citizens who experienced decreases in their incomes and were severely affected by the pandemic restrictions. According to polls, more than seventy percent of the respondents, including Republicans, positively viewed the possibility of giving a stimulus check to every American citizen (“Americans,” 2020). The act also received support from representatives of both the Republican and Democratic parties. For instance, Senator Tammy Baldwin is one of the people who actively participated in refining this legislation (“U.S. Senator,” 2020). At the same time, there are groups that campaign against giving tax breaks to large companies as part of the act (“231 groups,” 2020). Yet, based on the fact that the act did not raise any concerns among the Congress members and the majority of citizens, it has a big chance of being actually made a law.

Financial feasibility

The CARES Act implies spending large sums of money on ensuring recovery from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. As noted by the Congressional Budget Office (2020), despite the fact that the total amount of assistance equals $2 trillion, part of this sum will constitute loan guarantees. Thus, the sum directly given to businesses, individuals, and states will equal approximately $1,7 trillion. Such allocations surpass those provided under the FFCRA act, which was discussed above, and thus must deliver more benefit to the population and the economy in general. The CARES Act can be compared in terms of its scope to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which successfully promoted economic recovery (Klein & Staal, 2017). Not implementing this bill may worsen the country’s economic climate and subsequent increase in poverty, which may provoke a financial crisis. Thus, the CARES Act, despite its high cost, can deliver substantial benefits to the population.

Practical feasibility

Implementation of the CARES Act will require considerable efforts on the part of the states and federal agencies to ensure that all allocated resources are managed properly. Departments should oversee the process of giving grants to various organizations and oblige the recipients to complete reports on their utilization of the funds which they will accept. There there is a high risk of fraud being committed when large sums of money are being allocated to numerous parties. The CARES Act entails sizeable allocations to the Medicare and Medicaid programs, which are extremely vulnerable to fraudulent activities (Kraft & Furlong, 2017). Therefore, audits must be given priority in the process of assessing the data received from beneficiaries of the act.

Should

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The FFCRA Act is a piece of legislation that is consistent with the biblical principles and constitutional clauses and which is necessary for protecting the most vulnerable groups from the pandemic. The legislation guarantees free testing to every citizen, a policy that was proved to be helpful in reducing the number of deaths, and it reflects the inalienable right of every person to life (Walker & Burrel, 2020). Additionally, the bill supports those in need who do not have enough money to cover their basic needs, such as nutrition. For instance, research indicates that after the onset of the pandemic, U.S college students experienced a drop in food security (Mialki et al., 2021). The act also extends benefits to the people who were made redundant on their job. According to studies, the virus affected poor U.S. citizens at a higher rate than the affluent ones during the first weeks of the pandemic (Finch & Finch, 2020). Thus, the FFCRA Act is legislation that has to be implemented to resolve the aforementioned problems.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act

The CARES Act is another piece of legislation that adheres to the Bible and the Constitution. During the pandemic, states decided which businesses could be considered essential and which ones could not, which can be viewed as discrimination (Storr et al., 2020). Thus, the bill partially acts as a means of restoring justice in the country where thousands of businesses and millions of citizens were harmed by the restrictions imposed by the authorities. It also provides every member of society with a fiscal stimulus which is of great significance for all people during a difficult period in terms of economic wellbeing. Research shows that there was a massive decrease in consumer spending of thirty percent during the second part of March when people realized that the pandemic was not slowing (Baker et al., 2020). Thus, the CARES Act is legislation that has the capacity to reverse the negative economic trends and incentivize growth.

Summary

The COVID-19 pandemic caused the local authorities to introduce restrictions which ultimately undermined the economy and people’s capacity to earn money. The FFCRA and CARES acts are pieces of legislation that are completely reasonable since they can help mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic on the financial stability of citizens and businesses. Additionally, they provide funding to numerous organizations and programs necessary for both containing the spread of the virus and ensuring the population’s safety. Moreover, the FFCRA Act makes it obligatory for companies to grant paid leave to employees who get infected with the virus, a measure which is essential for citizens’ capacity to pay for their expenses. Thus, both of the pieces of legislation are completely justified and have to be passed by the government.

References

231 groups oppose major business tax breaks in Cares Act. (2020). Americans For Tax Fairness. Web.

Americans overwhelmingly support continuation of coronavirus stimulus and relief programs. (2020). Ipsos. Web.

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ArtI.S7.C1.1.1 Origination Clause. (n.d.). Web.

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