How Are We Saving The Economy Today (Besides Killing Grandma Millie)?
While the Senate's economic stimulus bill was bogged down yesterday over Republicans' insistence on big corporate bailouts with little oversight, Nancy Pelosi unveiled a House plan yesterday to provide economic relief to workers and businesses at risk from the effects of dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. The House bill would spend $2.5 trillion, compared to roughly $1.8 trillion in the Senate version, and appears to be largely aimed at influencing the final shape of the stimulus package to make sure Democratic priorities are included. Like, for instance, not just throwing money at giant corporations and hoping for the best. Let's take a quick look at what's in the House bill here, beyond the free solar-powered abortions for lesbian environmentalists that Fox News is already complaining about. We're drawing from summaries at Politico, Fortune, and CNBC.
Your Personal Bailout: Where the Senate plan would give every adult $1200 (with $500 per child), the House version is $1500 per person, up to $7500 for a family of five. People with incomes over $75,000 (or joint filers over $150,000) would have to pay back the grants over time.
Expanded Unemployment & Sick Leave: Both bills would provide an extra $600 per week of unemployment over whatever state benefits people get from their state unemployment insurance. The House would also give extended medical/family leave to some workers, like first responders and health care workers, who weren't covered by the previous sick leave bill.
Hospitals & Healthcare: The House bill provides $80 billion to help out hospitals, plus $150 billion to providers and community health centers. That's compared to just $75 billion in the Senate version. Pelosi's bill would also eliminate copays and deductibles for coronavirus treatment and, when they become available, vaccines, as well as covering treatment/vaccines for the uninsured.
Education and Student Debt Relief: $60 billion would go to help schools and universities, and the bill would forgive $10,000 for every borrower with a federal student loan.
Rent and Debt Relief: Not quite a national rent moratorium, because come on, this is the land where a socialist board game aimed at teaching about rent strikes turned into Monopoly. But good stuff nonetheless! The bill would
force lenders to grant a temporary reprieve from mortgage and car payments and credit card bills. It would order the Federal Reserve to provide loan servicers with liquidity to allow borrowers to stop paying their mortgages for up to 360 days. Public housing residents would get a temporary reprieve from paying rent [...]
Negative consumer credit reporting would be halted. Foreclosures and evictions would be banned.
In addition, the House bill would include $1.5 billion to help low-income families with utility bills and would ban utility cutoffs during the crisis.
Airline Bailout: The Senate bill offers the airline industry loans only ($50 billion for passenger carriers, $8 billion for cargo lines). The House bill provides $37 billion in grants aimed at keeping airlines going and workers employed, on top of $21 billion in loans, but that aid would come with conditions: Airlines getting help would have to commit to
cut their carbon emissions in half by 2050. The House's measure would also kick in $1 billion to help develop sustainable fuels for planes and create a program for the government to buy less-efficient aircraft, à la "cash-for-clunkers."
When you hear Republicans mocking the House bill for trying to "sneak parts of the Green New Deal" into coronavirus relief, this is what they're talking about, and they're leaving out the part that the carbon cuts are a condition of the aid to airlines, not just some random crazy environmental tyranny.
Tax/Business Stuff: The Senate wants Donald Trump's payroll tax jolly holiday, which could gut funding for Social Security and Medicare. The House plan doesn't include any payroll tax cut, but would offer other tax measures to help middle and lower-income Americans. It would
expand health insurance premium tax credits under the Affordable Care Act and beef up the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and the Dependent Care Credit.
Democrats are pitching $500 billion in grants and interest-free loans to small businesses, including $300 billion in forgivable loans to cover short-term payroll costs. That compares to $300 billion in loans for small businesses in the Senate bill.
Food Assistance: Big damn difference here!
The bill includes an extra $450 million boost to food banks, as well as whatever funds are "necessary" to account for more people in need of food stamps. Senate Republicans had proposed about $15.6 billion in food stamp assistance.
Voting reform: This is another of those measures the Republicans are calling "unrelated" to the virus outbreak, because they apparently didn't notice the chaos in the most recent primaries, and also because Rs want voting to be hard even under normal circumstances. But because the wild-eyed radicals in the Democrat Party think we shouldn't have to choose between democracy and exposing ourselves to a dangerous virus, the bill includes $4 billion in grants to states to help them expand absentee voting, and would require 15 days of early voting and allow no-excuse absentee voting during national emergencies.
And those are most of the big differences between the two approaches to saving the economy; as far as we can tell, the House bill doesn't include a half-trillion dollars for the Treasury Department to disburse as it sees fit, because Nancy Pelosi is a big fan of congressional oversight, you see:
"Democrats take responsibility for our workers," Pelosi said. "We require that any corporation that takes taxpayer dollars must protect their workers' wages and benefits — not CEO pay, stock buybacks or layoffs."
As of this morning, it's looking like the Senate is much closer to an agreement on oversight for the bill's corporate subsidies, although the exact details aren't out yet. It remains to be seen how much of the House proposal will end up being included in a final bill; this would be an excellent time for y'all to get on the phone to your own representatives and senators and tell them about it.
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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.