By contrast, about a fifth, $884 billion, went to help workers and families. And even less aimed at the health crisis itself, with 16 percent of the total going toward testing and tracing, vaccine development, and helping states provide care, among other health-related needs.
The division of the funds, laid out in a deeply reported Washington Post investigation into the federal pandemic response, shines a light on the origin of the K-shaped economic recovery.
It continues to cushion the blow for the well-off while leaving millions of low and middle-income Americans struggling.
“The legislation bestowed billions in benefits on companies and wealthy individuals largely unscathed by the pandemic,” Peter Whoriskey, Douglas MacMillan and Jonathan O’Connell report, “while at the same time allowing special aid for unemployed workers to expire over the summer and leaving some local public health efforts struggling for money to conduct testing and other prevention efforts.”
They point to $651 billion in business tax breaks that “often went to companies unaffected by the pandemic and others that laid off thousands of workers.” That’s in part because the breaks weren’t targeted to sectors that suffered the most acutely during the pandemic shutdowns. And the legislation offered breaks for operating losses dating all the way back to 2018, making companies eligible for relief for setbacks from well before the pandemic struck.
The Cheesecake Factory, for one, said it will claim a tax break for $50 million despite furloughing 41,000 workers. And United Natural Foods, an organic grocer that saw its revenue surge by $1 billion this year, applied for a $28 million refund, the Post team found.
Another source of aid for larger companies came in the form of $454 billion that went to support lending by the Federal Reserve.
That pot of money helped “stabilize markets, and those