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Coronavirus economic stimulus should target low-, middle-income Americans, says US Rep. Richard E. Neal during tele-town hall

March 18, 2020
In The News

SPRINGFIELD — Stimulus checks from the federal government meant to head off long-term financial fallout from the coronavirus epidemic should go to people who make $50,000 a year or less, U.S. Rep.Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, said Wednesday.


The idea, Neal said, is not just to help out the most needy. It’s also to put money into the hands of people most likely to spend it quickly on everyday necessities. That spending will stimulate the economy by creating more demand for goods and services and either stave off or shorten a recession.

Neal, chairman of the powerful House Committee on Ways and Means, acknowledged that there is some debate in Washington over exactly where to set the cutoff.

“As you might expect, that will be arbitrary,” Neal said Wednesday on a teleconference with he hosted with Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health.

More than 10,000 people listened in for an hour as Neal and Keroack, an infectious disease specialist before transitioning into management, discussed the rapidly changing coronavirus situation.

“I don’t think we should be giving a check for $1,000 to people who make $1 million, frankly,” Neal said.


The current $1 trillion plan includes sending a pair of $1,000 checks. One would come in April and one would come in May.

It’s part of a wider package of spending, Neal said, that would also include expanded and expedited unemployment benefits and measures by the federal reserve and by banks to make money available for loans.

“The flow of credit will be very important to people who need it during this critical time,” Neal said.

He followed up that any emergency measures are just a first step. He’s calling for an infrastructure spending program — building roads, bridges, water, sewer and rail networks and the like — to keep people working and prepare the economy for growth.

Neal said he continues to speak with former secretaries of the U.S. Department of the Treasury as well as the with the Trump administration.

Teleconference callers peppered Neal with questions on the bailout as well as questions that invited him to criticize the Trump administration and the response to the pandemic of President Donald Trump himself.


Without using names, Neal condemned anyone who downplayed the coronavirus or suggested it could be ignored.

“That was a terrible miscalculation,” Neal said. “That assertion has not been well met by the facts.”