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A Struggling Stimulus Program – The New York Times

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There have clearly been problems with the business loan programs in the federal government’s coronavirus stimulus.

More quietly, though, there also seems to be a growing recognition in Congress — among members of both parties — that the execution of the stimulus program hasn’t been the main problem. The design of the program has been.

Much of the rest of the world — including Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany and South Korea — has followed one strategy on coronavirus stimulus. Governments have temporarily paid the salaries of workers in order to prevent millions of layoffs.

The United States has taken a different path. It created a complicated mix of different stimulus policies, including loans to businesses and checks for families. This approach doesn’t appear to be working: The U.S. has had a sharper rise in unemployment than other countries. Many jobless Americans have also lost their health insurance — in the midst of a pandemic.

Now Congress may be on the verge of changing its approach.

The stimulus bill that House Democrats passed last week includes a new paycheck subsidy program, similar to those in other countries. For businesses that have lost substantial revenue, it would cover — as grants, not loans — as much as 80 percent of payroll costs, up to $60,000 per worker in annual salary. The policy would be expensive, yet still cheaper than the previous stimulus plans.

The bill is only one sign of the idea’s growing popularity. Yesterday, almost 100 House Democrats introduced a more ambitious version of the program. And senators across the ideological spectrum — from Josh Hawley (a Missouri Republican) on the right to Doug Jones (an Alabama Democrat) in the center to Bernie Sanders (you know who he is) on the left — are pushing their own versions of the plans.

Janet Yellen, the former Fed chair, has praised the idea as a “smart, quick and effective way to channel aid to workers through their firms.”

It’s still not clear what will happen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, continues to speak skeptically about the need for any further stimulus. Regardless, any bill is likely to be more diffuse and complex than the approach of other countries, and any paycheck subsidy is likely to be less ambitious.

But the U.S. may soon be moving in the direction of those other countries.

Two countries are facing challenges after starting to reopen. French authorities shut some schools just a week after many students returned because of a spike in new cases. France’s education minister said that some new cases were “inevitable” and added, “The consequences of not going back to school are much more serious.”

In Iran, weeks after leaders began easing coronavirus restrictions to help the economy, cases are spiking in eight provinces. Health experts attributed the resurgence to the country’s reopening before cases were consistently falling and before Iran had established widespread testing and contact tracing.

American authorities have deported hundreds of migrant children and teenagers, without giving them the opportunity to speak to a social worker or to plead for asylum, The Times’s Caitlin Dickerson reports. Some children are being deported in the middle of night, without their families being notified.

In expelling the children, the Trump administration is abandoning protections that both Democratic and Republican presidents have granted to young migrants for decades. Federal officials are justifying the practices under a 1944 law that grants the president broad power to prevent the “serious threat” of a dangerous disease.

When the nation’s largest four-year public university system — California State — announced last week that it would hold almost all classes online this fall, it seemed as if it might be the start of a trend. Instead, several major colleges have since gone in the other direction and announced that they plan to bring students back to campus this fall.

The details vary. Notre Dame, Purdue and others will begin in-person classes early and end them by Thanksgiving. Ithaca College, by contrast, is delaying the start of its fall semester until October. And N.Y.U. is “planning to convene in person, with great care,” its provost said. Many schools face big financial incentives to reopen.

There’s an old, unwritten rule of politics that says vice-presidential hopefuls should never look like they’re campaigning for the job. This year, the faux-reluctance act finally seems to have been retired.

Amy Klobuchar, Stacey Abrams and other apparent candidates have all publicly embraced their interest. Why? The Times’s Mark Leibovich points both to the blunt norms of social media and to President Trump’s habit of saying “the quiet part out loud for the last four years.”

Johnson & Johnson is discontinuing sales of its talc-based baby powder in North America, after facing thousands of lawsuits from people who said it caused their cancer. The company will continue to sell the product in other parts of the world.

Two dams in Michigan were breached after days of heavy rainfall, forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents. The affected area includes Midland, the home of Dow Chemical, which Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said could be under nine feet of water by this morning.

A salvage company received approval to cut into the wreckage of the Titanic to try to recover a Marconi telegraph from the ocean liner, rekindling a debate over access to the ship.

Annie Glenn, a champion of people with speech disorders and the wife of John Glenn, died at 100, from Covid-19.

Tara Parker-Pope, The Times’s consumer health columnist, says she is hearing one question from readers more often than any other these days: When can I see my grandkids (or, for that matter, my grandparents or aging parents)?

“We have to protect the elderly population from Covid-19,” Tara says. “But loneliness and isolation are major health risks too. For many grandparents, seeing their grandchildren is the greatest source of joy in their lives. With planning, social distancing, good weather and a mask, an outdoor visit is the way to minimize risk and reconnect grandparents with their grandkids.”

You can find a fuller version of her advice — including how to seal any leaks in your quarantine bubble — in the latest Ask Well column.

“The finocchiona is a good ‘oh-my-god-we-made-it-through-another-day’ happy hour snack,” she said, “maybe with some combo of anchovies, radish, cheese, crackers, olives and most importantly, to me, a glass of chilled light red wine.”

You can also try sprinkling the salami into these savory biscuits, which you can make in about 45 minutes.

On Monday, fans of the country musician Travis McCready experienced the nation’s first live concert in months. Some drove for hours to attend the Arkansas show, where they had their temperatures taken and wore masks. Four of every five seats were kept empty. The show offered a preview of what live music might look like for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David

P.S. You may have noticed a change in today’s newsletter, which replaced the “Morning Five” news section with “More Big Stories.” Our goal is to be more flexible. As always, you can let us know what you think by emailing us.

You can see today’s print front page here.

Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about the toll that the coronavirus is taking on black Americans.

Lauren Leatherby, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Jonathan Wolfe and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at

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