Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0

With Republicans dedicated to sitting on their asses while the country is experiencing Great Depression levels of unemployment, House Democrats are putting together a new economic stimulus package that would pump roughly $1.2 trillion into the economy. The proposal, which hasn't yet been finalized or translated into legislative language, would provide relief to state, local, and tribal governments, and would also boost support for hospitals, COVID-19 testing, and social services. If you liked your $1,200 stimmy check, you can have another direct payment (amount still not announced, though). And if you like having a US Postal Service (as literally included in the US Constitution), you can keep it, with spending aimed at keeping the Post Office afloat, too.

Since the Trump administration and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are saying they prefer to wait and see if President Hoover's do-nothing policies end the Depression, the Democratic plan isn't likely to become law anytime soon, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week that sitting around and waiting isn't acceptable, so how about Congress does its job? The first stimmy was a good start, so let's do more, especially to help working people.

"We'll put a marker down that follows the lead of other bipartisan legislation that has been passed, with increased funding, because we haven't done enough testing," Mrs. Pelosi said on CSPAN on Friday.

So what's in this sucker? Axios has the broad outlines of the "CARES 2" proposal, which could be released as a draft as early as this week:

• Roughly $1 trillion for state and local governments. [Democrats] want to split this money into separate revenue streams to ensure each community can access it.

•More money for hospitals and COVID-19 testing.

•Roughly $25 billion to keep the U.S. Postal Service afloat.

•Expanded nutritional benefits, Medicaid funding and unemployment insurance (which they call "paycheck guarantee").

•Another round of direct payments to Americans.

We should point out that there may be some wiggle room on what that "paycheck guarantee" proposal would involve. It could just be an extension of the $600 per week in extra unemployment benefits that were in the first CARES Act, or it might be some form of Rep. Pramila Jayapal's proposal to more broadly subsidize payrolls for companies affected by the coronavirus — which would be a hell of a lot more helpful since red states are trying to kick everyone off unemployment because states and businesses "reopened." Here's the New York Times on that, although it's not terribly detailed.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, [...] has raised the possibility of creating a "guaranteed income" that would go directly to workers. A top aide to Ms. Pelosi said that she had been referring to a paycheck guarantee program, not a larger-scale universal basic income, but the idea is unlikely to gain broad support in the Republican-led Senate.

That sounds like Jayapal's proposal, but who knows what will ultimately shake out; there has been at least some Republican support for payroll subsidies, as long as they're sufficiently camouflaged as a "negative payroll tax," but with Trump determined to end all lockdowns everywhere and hope nobody notices all the bodies piling up, it seems unlikely that will go anywhere.

In the Senate, Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Ed Markey have introduced a more robust emergency income plan that really would be a temporary version of Universal Basic Income; like a similar plan introduced in the House by Reps. Ro Khanna and Tim (really!) Ryan, the senators' proposal would provide a $2000 monthly check to all Americans earning under $120,000 individually, or $4000 a month for couples, with another $2000 a month per child for up to three kids. Not a chance in hell Republicans would ever pass it, especially now that they've conveniently rediscovered "deficits R bad," but that's kind of the point: It's an idea that's worth pushing right now, and worth reminding Americans that Republicans would never dream of actually helping them.

The House proposal will also not include the GOP's top priority, that completely evil "liability shield" for employers whose negligence leads to workers contracting COVID-19. Nor does it include Donald Trump's beloved "payroll tax holiday," because Democrats think funding Social Security is a good idea (and even Republicans are laughing at it because it literally doesn't help anything at all). You also probably noticed the Dem proposal doesn't include any bailout funds for giant corporations, cruise ship companies, or the oil industry.

The bill probably will include language aimed at making sure people can't "double dip" into different parts of the stimulus, like for instance drawing extended unemployment benefits if they also received a small business loan.

The Wall Street Journal notes that while House Republicans are already whining that they haven't been included in discussions of the new spending package, there are at least some who may want to get help for their states, especially in areas hit hardest by the disease outbreak and the economic shutdown:

Sending more money to states and municipalities is a must-have in future legislation for Democrats, but not supported by many top Republicans, including Mr. Trump. The issue also is split geographically, with lawmakers in hard-hit areas from both parties pushing hard to help their states, towns and tribal areas that have lost revenue and spent money combating the virus.

"It's important Congress appropriate funding to assist states and localities in the next package…the resources that have been given available to them, although helpful, have not been enough," Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.) said in a virtual debate last week hosted by the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of 50 House lawmakers.

So hooray for at least one House Republican, who we're sure is already being targeted by Trump for a primary challenge from some idiot who loves disease more, the end.

[Axios / USA Today / NYT / WSJ / Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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