I know everyone calls it "stimulus." But that is like calling heroin "plant-based painkiller." So please don't use that word around me. Or post "trigger warning" when you do. To steal NYT columnist Paul Krugman's explanation:
I still keep seeing news reports that frame congressional arguments about relief bills as a debate about “stimulus.” But stimulus is what you do when unemployment is high because people aren’t spending enough. And that’s not the problem we face.
Think about it. Why are there still two million fewer workers in “food services and drinking places” than there were before the coronavirus struck? It’s not because people can’t afford to eat out or go to bars. It’s because eating out and gathering in bars are dangerous activities. In many parts of the country these activities are, rightly, either banned or sharply restricted; even where they’re allowed, many people, understanding the risks, choose to stay home.
The role of economic policy in this situation isn’t to bring those jobs back while the pandemic is still raging — we actually don’t want a resurgence of employment in high-risk sectors until vaccines are widely available. What we should be doing, instead, is minimizing the suffering while we wait. That is, the issue isn’t stimulus, it’s disaster relief.