Local business owners react to Biden’s COVID relief plan

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – President Joe Biden appeared on CNN last night for a Town Hall meeting, where he pitched the new COVID-19 relief bill to Americans.

The bill is priced at a hefty $1.9 trillion dollars, and contains a multitude of policy initiatives.

The highlights of the proposal include direct stimulus checks of $1,400 to individuals making up to $75,000.

UTC Associate Political Science Professor, Jeremy Strickler, says that Democrats are leaning in on passing the bill along party lines.

“So far it looks like the Senate Democrats are prepared to use reconciliation, which is a particular parliamentary move that will allow them to pass it with just 51 votes,” Strickler says.

He explained that although the price of the bill is cause for controversy, some economists argue that the pros outweigh the cons.

“I think you’re seeing that the will to respond is stronger than the concern about what the economic impact will be, especially because there are unfortunately showing that the economic benefits of the stimulus could actually be very beneficial to both addressing the unemployment crisis and the output of our gross domestic product,” he says.

Mike Robinson, owner of Chattanooga’s Proof Incubator, says that although the bill is a good start, it just isn’t enough to give the restaurant industry the boost it really needs.

“25 billion is a start, it’s definitely necessary for the industry and will be very helpful. I don’t know if it’s enough, to be honest. I mean, you look at New York, like they opened for maybe two weeks in the fall and then were shut down again and now they’re about to reopen so they’re decimated,” says Robinson.

He says that the City of Chattanooga also has its own relief programs for restaurants.

“The City of Chattanooga, we’re an affiliate with their program where they’re doing a several million dollar relief fund to $15 million dollar loans, micro loans to small businesses and that can really make the difference for the really small mom and pop places,” Robinson says.

Democrats are hoping to pass relief by mid-March, when unemployment insurance and pandemic aid is set to expire.

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