Not just six hundred dollars: The emergency COVID bill contains hundreds of billions in aid to individuals

Yes, a one-time $600 payment is inadequate. Yes, extending the eviction moratorium for only a month is anxiety-inducing. Yes, having no direct assistance to state, cities, and Native American tribal governments is a broken promise.

Both President-elect Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear that the compromise emergency COVID package Congress is getting ready to pass cannot be viewed as completed work but only as a down payment.

Be that as it may, the paltry nature of a $600 survival direct payment has taken over the coverage of the coronavirus relief package at the expense of the very real individual benefits that Democrats were able to negotiate in the package, and it should not be. Here is what you get, in addition to the one-time $600 payment, depending on your situation.

If you are unemployed, not only have your unemployment benefits been extended until March, you will also get a $300/week enhancement to unemployment benefits for 11 weeks. That is $1,300 a month on top of your standard unemployment benefit. That comes in at a total of $166 billion.

If you work for small businesses, you might be able to receive your full paycheck even if the business cannot open due to COVID restrictions. This measure replenishes the Paycheck Protection Program - the purpose of which, as the name implies is to keep paychecks coming even when business is not - with $284 billion. Sure, it goes through the employer, but its target and beneficiary is the individual employee and can only be spent for that purpose.

If you rent or pay a mortgage, you cannot be evicted for nonpayment. The eviction moratorium set to expire at the end of this month has been extended to January 31. If you are having a hard time affording rent, a $25 billion fund has been secured to help you pay rent.

If you are food insecure, Democrats have secured a $13 billion increase in SNAP funding.

If you have a child in school or are in school yourself, you may be interested to know that $82 billion is being set aside to help schools and colleges reopen safely.

If you are worried about hospital bills, this bill ends surprise medical billing, requiring that get a "true and honest cost estimate" 3 days before any scheduled procedure and that billing disputes would be subject to arbitration.

If you take public transit, your local transit agency can get part of the $14 billion set aside to keep the buses, light rails, and commuter trains running.

If you are having trouble affording Broadband internet so you can work or attend school from home, this bill creates a $7 billion fund to help you pay for it.

If you drive, there is $10 billion to maintain highways.

And if you are planning on getting the coronavirus vaccine at some point? There is $68 billion in this package for vaccine distribution and $20 billion to make sure no one has to pay a penny to receive it.

Last but not least, let's be crystal clear that there would be no relief bill at all - that means zero direct payment, no extended unemployment, no paychecks if your employer is a small business affected by the pandemic, no eviction moratorium, no SNAP expansion, at all, had the Democratic leadership not lined up behind a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators (including Republicans willing to buck their party leadership) who stepped forward to break a logjam that lasted the full human gestation period. Republicans were so ready to leave town with nothing that they filed a motion to adjourn the House of Representatives for the holidays before any assistance is approved. The Senate's Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did adjourn the Senate without passing a single penny in assistance time and time again.

Would more be better? Of course. As Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi have made clear, once Biden and Vice President-elect Harris have been sworn in, they and Congressional Democrats will push for more relief and stimulus.

We will need that, and it will completely change the dynamic in Congress if Jon Osoff and Rev. Rafael Warnock were to replace Trumpian hacks David Purdue and Kelly Loeffler in the Senate. The difference between winning the two senate seats in Georgia and not winning them will in large part determine how much aid comes to the American people, not because it would drastically change the makeup of the Senate, but because it would give Democrats control over the calendar, as well as over the budget reconciliation process (that allows the Senate to pass spending measures without requiring 60 votes to end debate).

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