On The Money: Easing lockdowns seen unlikely to stop economy bleeding | GOP divided over state aid | House panel calls on Bezos to testify

On The Money: Easing lockdowns seen unlikely to stop economy bleeding | GOP divided over state aid | House panel calls on Bezos to testify

Happy Friday and welcome back to On The Money. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL—Easing lockdowns seen unlikely to stop economy bleeding: Several states including Georgia and Texas moved to ease the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic by beginning to ease lockdown restrictions this week.

But given widespread fears about the virus, economists say, states may not see much economic benefit – and instead risk new outbreaks – especially as the country remains far behind in its testing capabilities. The Hill’s Niv Elis explains why.

  • Whether people will venture out to businesses remains uncertain. A “home run” treatment remains elusive and scientists say a vaccine is unlikely before January in the best-case scenario.
  • In China, where tough lockdowns, widespread testing and a technologically-based system of contact tracing have been put into place, manufacturing activity has shot back up, but small businesses and services are facing a sluggish recovery.
  • For many, the concern is that reopening will not only fail to help businesses, but also lead to a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, which in itself would further damage the economy in the longer term.

A key thing that comes out of this analysis of looking at different countries is that there really doesn’t seem to be an easy way out economically,” said Jonathan Rothwell, a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution.

“If people feel unsafe or are worried about transmitting it to people who are most at risk, they’re going to change their behavior in pretty significant ways, even if businesses are open,” he added.

LEADING THE DAY

GOP divided over state aid during coronavirus pandemic: Republicans are divided over how to handle aid for state and local governments hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The issue quickly became a flashpoint between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCapitol physician doesn’t have enough coronavirus tests for all lawmakers as Senate plans return Overnight Health Care: Pelosi floats almost T for states | US intel investigating COVID-19’s origins | Trump outlines efforts to protect nursing homes The Hill’s Campaign Report: Pressure grows on Biden to address Tara Reade allegations MORE (R-Ky.) and Democrats, but there are also signs of fractures emerging among GOP lawmakers as they work to solidify their negotiating stance for the next relief bill.

  • Congress allocated $150 billion for state and municipal governments as part of the $2.2 trillion rescue package signed into law March 27.
  • But Republicans are split on whether to loosen restrictions on how that money and any future funds can be spent, or if they should even support additional funding given GOP concerns about “state bailouts.”

Democrats have promised to make more state and local aid their top priority in the next relief package, and McConnell has described Republicans as “open” to considering more help for states. The Hill’s Jordain Carney tells us what McConnell wants Democrats to give up here.

House Judiciary Committee calls on Bezos to testify: Members of the Judiciary Committee are calling on Amazon CEO Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosAmazon blasts Trump admin’s ‘personal vendetta’ after some of its sites land on counterfeit list NASA awards contracts to build spacecrafts to send astronauts back to the moon Amazon, Whole Foods and grocery delivery workers to strike Friday MORE to testify before the panel over concerns his deputies may have misled Congress in testimony about their use of data from third-party sellers. 

In a letter sent to Bezos on Friday, the lawmakers cited a Wall Street Journal report that said the company had used sensitive business data from third-party sellers on the website to create competing products.

“If these allegations are true, then Amazon exploited its role as the largest online marketplace in the U.S. to appropriate the sensitive commercial data of individual marketplace sellers and then used that data to compete directly with those sellers,” they wrote to Bezos, who has never testified before Congress. The Hill’s Juliegrace Brufke and Chris Mills Rodrigo have more here.

GOOD TO KNOW