Congress needs to correct flaws in CARES Act

A CARES-2 Act needs to be written and enacted as soon as possible in Washington — not necessarily to pump more money into the national COVID-19 recovery effort, but to correct flaws in the original law.

The ink is barely dry on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which was enacted in late March. It provides a history-making $2.2 trillion to assist individuals, companies, charities and local and state governments in the battle against COVID-19.

It has been suggested by both Republicans and Democrats that a second CARES Act, providing even more money, is needed. That may be so. Financial havoc stemming from the coronavirus is wide and deep.

But the initial relief measure, about 880 pages long, requires fine-tuning, too.

For example, there was some concern about how senior citizens who receive Social Security checks would get their individual CARES Act payments. At one point, it was suggested they would have to register for the program.

Obviously, that is not necessary. The Social Security Administration and Internal Revenue Service already have the identities, financial information, even, in many cases, the bank account numbers for such seniors. Checks could be sent out or direct-deposited very easily.

There is no need for seniors to register for the program, the government now says.

Another aspect of CARES is a massive initiative to help small businesses stay afloat. A number of banks have complained that the mechanism for that is cumbersome and, in some cases, virtually impossible for small business owners to navigate.

That program needs to be amended and improved.

If not through a CARES-2 Act, then by enacting supplementary legislation, Congress needs to correct flaws in the original law.

By Kerry Minor

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