Letter: Senate’s HEROES Act


Letter writer Sue Ravenscroft lists her rationale for the HEROES Act to maintain a pay of $600 a week. 

Sue Ravenscroft

Senate Republicans have finally reached some agreement on a proposed version of the HEROES Act the House passed in mid-May.

One sticking point was the supplemental unemployment payment of $600 per week, which the Republicans proposed reducing to $200 per week.

But how much is $600 per week? It’s a week’s pay at $15 per hour, annual pay of $31,200 and a monthly pay of $2,600. How easy is it for a family to live on that amount? On its website, the Iowa Policy Project has a cost of living calculation for every Iowa county and various family configurations. It turns out that in either Polk or Story County, the only “family” that could survive on that amount is a single individual with no children.

Why should the Republicans continue the $600 per week? Three reasons.

1) During a time when over 40 million people are unemployed, jobs are what is in short supply, not workers willing to fill those jobs. Many unemployed people are deeply concerned that their temporarily-closed employers will never reopen for business.

2) It is shameful some of the people for whom $15 per hour would be a “raise” are those doing work deemed essential, such as meatpacking.

3) Finally, not a reason, but a plea to common decency and shared humanity. If our Republican senators took the time to imagine their own families living on $600 a week, could they, in good conscience, go forward with reducing the payment to only $200 per week?

Sue Ravenscroft is a professor emerita.