Bridgette Reynard has a new habit since losing her old job.
Right before the 28-year New Orleans resident falls asleep, she checks for news about any stimulus deal on Capitol Hill.
And when she wakes up, she checks her Apple
iPad about the same topic.
She and many others learned this week that President Donald Trump was ending his participation in talks on a second round of stimulus. In March, Trump signed the $2.2 trillion CARES act, which authorized direct payments of up to $1,200 to Americans and an extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits for people who had been laid off.
The president later said on Twitter
he would be open to certain portions of a deal. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi resumed talks and by Thursday the president said discussions were “very productive.” Later in the day, Pelosi said she wasn’t interested in piecemeal deals, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said a bargain before Election Day was “unlikely.” As of Friday, Trump reportedly had a $1.8 trillion offer on the table.
Outside the Beltway, the negotiation turns are leaving Reynard, and other people like her, twisting in the wind at a precarious point.
Most of the stimulus checks have long been disbursed and the supplemental federal benefits ended in July. Extra $300 unemployment benefits from the Federal Emergency Management Agency recently ended too.
The September jobless rate was 7.9%. That’s off the double-digit rates of the spring after the pandemic’s initial shockwave. But September marked the smallest gain in employment since state economies started reopening; 700,000 people left the workforce because jobs are scarce.
When travel and tourism dried up by late March, Reynard lost her job supervising crews that cleaned Airbnb rentals. She used her stimulus check and unemployment benefits to pay her rent and utility bills while unsuccessfully looking for jobs at gas stations, hospitals and elsewhere.
‘It really brings me into a depression not knowing my next move.’
“It really brings me into a depression not knowing my next move,” Reynard said.
Meanwhile, coronavirus infections continue. As of Friday, 7.6 million Americans had been sickened by the virus and flu season is approaching.
With another stimulus check or more supplemental unemployment benefits, Reynard said she could start looking around for a one-bedroom where she and her 9-year-old son could stay. When Reynard couldn’t afford rent and her landlord served her with a notice to vacate — despite a national eviction moratorium — Reynard and her son moved in with her mother.
Without more stimulus money, Reynard said, “I feel like we’ll be trapped in this situation forever.”
In New Castle, Del., 31-year-old Christine Gaydos, a new mother and stagehand who’s been out of work since March, has watched her monthly household income drop from approximately $6,000 to $1,420.
Gaydos used her stimulus money for pregnancy-related hospital bills and household necessities. “I used that money to keep us afloat.”
Another stimulus check for her and her husband wouldn’t be a huge sum of money in the bigger picture, she said.
‘When you’ve already stretched yourself so thin, that would be enough to make sure we’re okay. We don’t have to worry some much about everything.’
Still, “that money would be such padding. It really would just feel like a safety net. …When you’ve already stretched yourself so thin, that would be enough to make sure we’re OK. We don’t have to worry…