Impact on N.J.: Breaking down GOP’s stimulus counterproposal

A group of 10 U.S. Senate Republicans announced Sunday that they will present a counterproposal Monday for the next stimulus — a plan that, at $600 billion, is significantly smaller than the $1.9 trillion President Joe Biden has requested.

People in the administration have indicated a willingness to discuss the plan — and the sense of a willingness to be bipartisan certainly is a welcome change.

The devil, of course, is in the details — some of which started to dribble out Sunday afternoon in various major news outlets. In essence, the Republican counterproposal is likely to include more targeted relief plans.

Here’s a look at some of the items that appear to be in the proposal and how they would impact New Jersey residents — and, more specifically, business owners.

Smaller stimulus checks — and for fewer people

There appears to be a desire to reduce the $1,400 additional check to $1,000. Even more, there appears to be a desire to limit the number of people who get the check. More “middle-class” income earners in New Jersey could be shut out.

The skinny: When you’re in a state with a high cost of living, it’s always tough when decisions are based solely on income. A salary of $75,000 or $100,000 doesn’t go as far here as it does elsewhere. New Jerseyans would be unfairly shorted here.

No nationwide $15 minimum wage

This appears to be a big issue with Republicans.

The skinny: If we’re going to use the high cost of living argument for greater inclusion in stimulus packages, we need to do so here, too. A national $15 wage makes no sense. It costs a lot more to live in Cedar Knolls than Cedar City, Utah. There should be a sliding scale. But, note this: Whatever that scale is, New Jersey should be near the top. This would be good for workers here — not so good for employers.

Who signed the letter:

Susan Collins of Maine is said to be leading the effort. Here are the other nine Republican senators, all of whom are generally considered to be moderates:

  • Bill Cassidy of Louisiana;
  • Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia;
  • Jerry Moran of Kansas;
  • Lisa Murkowski of Alaska;
  • Rob Portman of Ohio;
  • Mitt Romney of Utah;
  • Mike Rounds of South Dakota;
  • Thom Tillis of North Carolina;
  • Todd Young of Indiana.

More money for PPP and EIDL

It’s unclear if this means more money to help small businesses process applications (a good thing) or more money for the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, too.

The skinny: With all the talk about how important small business is, this is put-up-or-shut-up time.

Extension of unemployment benefits

Benefits likely would stay at current $300 supplement level, though.

The skinny: Again, different regions need different totals. Bigger picture: Until the economy — and schools — are fully opened, there really isn’t a choice.

More for those who need it more

There are calls for an additional round of stimulus payments for families who need assistance the most — as well as increased nutrition assistance.

The skinny: Hard to argue against this. But, again, where do you draw the line to ensure the greatest number of Jerseyans are included?

More money for behavioral health

The word is, $4 billion is pegged to this effort.

The skinny: The need for behavioral health is skyrocketing right now, especially among our youth. Money isn’t the total answer. It’s finding the balance of what is a fair fee. Too many parents cannot afford this vital service.