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Valley economist says President Biden should sharpen COVID relief focus

President Joe Biden speaks during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)

PHOENIX – A Valley economist would like to see President Joe Biden focus coronavirus relief efforts on people directly impacted by the pandemic.

“You’ve actually got to deal with the people who are in trouble, and by sending $2,000 to every household, you’re not doing that,” Elliott Pollack, CEO of a Scottsdale consulting firm, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday, one day after Biden’s inauguration.

“You need to specifically send aid to those people who are behind on rent because of COVID, not because they just didn’t feel like paying rent. So you have to have some oversight here.”

Biden has proposed an additional $1,400 in direct payments to individuals to supplement the $600 checks included in the stimulus package approved last month under the previous administration.

The $1.9 trillion proposal also includes, among many other things, $15 billion in grants to small businesses hurt by the pandemic and a temporary increase in unemployment benefits.

In one of his first acts after being sworn in as the nation’s 46th president on Wednesday, Biden extended the federal eviction moratorium through March.

Pollack suggested that more needs to be done along those lines.

“You also need a moratorium on foreclosures on people who can’t pay their mortgages on the rental properties because of that moratorium,” Pollack said.

Pollack said money needs to go to people who suffered COVID-related financial losses “to get themselves back to zero so they can participate in the recovery that … is likely to take place, is certain to take place.”

Pollack gave mixed reviews to Biden’s inaugural address.

“A lot of what he said yesterday was great, but it was more social engineering than it was stuff that’s going to actually help in the near term,” he said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jeremy Foster contributed to this report.

For Arizona vaccine information, visit azdhs.gov/findvaccine.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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