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Opinion | A Cruel Motive for a Costly Delay

The clear and present danger is in doing too little, not in doing too much.

The bailout bill is, without doubt, highly imperfect.

The restrictions on companies that receive federal assistance are insufficient and, in many cases, amount to guidelines for the Treasury Department to impose at its discretion rather than binding requirements. The $367 billion provided for small businesses is less than a third of what some experts estimate is needed to stave off a wave of layoffs and bankruptcies.

The funding for state and local governments, which are marshaling most of the resources to confront the pandemic, is even more inadequate. The state of Ohio, where Gov. Mike DeWine proposed $14 billion in budget cuts on Wednesday, would get just $2.1 billion in federal aid. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted the bill as “really terrible” and described the $3.1 billion earmarked for his state as “a drop in the bucket.” His aides said the state already has spent at least $1 billion to fight the pandemic and to care for people who are sick — and the crisis has not crested yet. Washington, D.C. has a larger population than Wyoming — and more than four times as many confirmed coronavirus cases — but it is slated to receive significantly less federal funding.

And the bill is packed to the gills with unwarranted gifts for undeserving recipients, including $17 billion to bail out Boeing, a company that lately has charted new frontiers in corporate mismanagement. (It is worth noting that the senators moralizing about welfare benefits made no objection to bailing out companies that had failed to manage their business prudently.) The Times also reported Wednesday that a provision in the bill could allow President Trump’s hotels to qualify for bailout funds otherwise intended for small businesses.

But these flaws are no reason to hesitate. The bill, on balance, would do far more good than harm. And while it does not do enough, it is only the third coronavirus bailout bill. It is clear already that Congress will need to keep writing checks.