Amerikan Cornonavirus stimulation package: a PSA

Great for Big Bidness, a travesty for the working poor and either a one-time or two-time check nothingburger for the plebians.  I just watched Mitch McConnell rant about some of the items the D want included (solar energy credits now?), and otherwise you can bet your bippies that the D Team has our backs!

The Ds and Rs were deadlocked last night, but will meet again today, according to the Guardian: $1,200 checks for all? What you need to know about the US coronavirus bailout; US government is debating bill of to $1.8tn for money going to businesses, corporations and directly into the pockets of Americans’, March 23, theguardian.com

What does the bailout look like?

Right now, the bill is estimated to be up to $1.8tn for money going to businesses, corporations and directly into the pockets of Americans.

Senate Republicans are at the helm of the package, though they need 60 votes to get it passed, which means they will need to compromise with Democrats.

The Republicans’ bill has four main components:

  • direct payment to most Americans
  • loans for small businesses
  • hard-hit industries like the airlines
  • and an increase in payments to the healthcare sector

When will this get done?

Talks stalled in the Senate on Sunday after Democrats worried the business bailout did too little to protect workers. A second vote has now been scheduled for Monday.

What has Congress done so far?

The first spending bill to combat the Covid-19 outbreak in the US was signed by the president earlier this month and is worth $8.3bn. The money is going toward the US health and human services department, state and local health departments and local community healthcare centers. A big chunk was earmarked for international response to the outbreak.

A second bill for paid sick leave and emergency paid leave worth $104bn was passed last week. The legislation excluded workers from large companies with more than 500 employees and allowed companies with under 50 employees to apply for exemptions. The bill mandates 10 days of paid sick leave and creates an emergency paid leave program for parents affected by their children’s schools closing for coronavirus-related reasons. It also expands food assistance programs and aids states’ unemployment insurance programs.

Are Americans really going to get direct checks from the government?

The Republicans’ plan is for individuals to get up to $1,200 and married couples to get up to $2,400, including $500 for each child. The size of a check would diminish gradually for those whose income is above $75,000, while those earning more than $99,000 will not be getting any checks. The checks will be based on a household or individual’s 2018 tax return.

Is there bipartisan agreement on these checks?

No. Some Republicans say the money will be a quick way to boost the economy. “These recommendations would blunt the impact for most Americans and limit the damage to the US economy,” said Senator Chuck Grassley, Senate finance committee chairman.

But Democrats say it will not help struggling Americans in the long run. Instead, the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, said that “beefed-up unemployment insurance” is a more sustainable way [blnk, blink] to help those who need it most. “A single $1,000 check would help someone pay their landlord in March, but what happens after that?” he said.

Also, the Republicans’ plan to divvy out checks has been criticized for screwing over low-income earners. Those who earn more than $2,500 will get, at minimum, $600. As taxable income increases, so will the amount of the check until it reaches $75,000. At that point, the amount decreases until it reaches $99,000, at which point a person gets nothing.

That means a person whose taxable income is $75,000 will get a larger check than someone who makes $30,000.”

[Actually Aratani’s screwing over link goes to vox.com’s ‘Senate Republicans’ cash assistance plan is far too limited; Too little help for children, low-income people, and those hit hard by the crisis’, noting:

“The way it works is that a single person who had little or no income tax liability last year gets a one-time payment of $600. [Say seniors benefiting from the newish Geezer Tax Credit] Then as your taxable income increases, that check goes up to $1,200. But then when you reach $75,000 in annual income, the size of the check starts going down again. For married couples, all those numbers double. And each child would be worth $500 in extra help.” [snip]

The shortcomings start with the fact that, reflecting longstanding conservative hostility to helping people who don’t have much market income, the people most in need of assistance get the least help here. Republican governors and the Trump administration have been trying for years to impose work requirements on Medicaid benefits, which studies show leads to lower enrollment but no change in employment. The White House is also pushing forward with a plan to impose more stringent work requirements on SNAP beneficiaries even as the economy collapses, likely leading 700,000 people to lose their benefits.”

“From a humanitarian standpoint, however, there’s something perverse about throwing together an emergency financial assistance program that gives the least assistance to those most in need. [But let’s get real here!] And from a macroeconomic standpoint, it’s the most desperate households that we can be most sure will immediately spend any money they get — thus doing the most to stabilize the economy.”

“The bill includes a little over $200bn in secured loans to airlines and other hard-hit industries. Specifically, $50bn will be up for commercial airline carriers to borrow and $8bn to cargo air carriers (the amount the industry trade groups have asked for), while $150bn for other industries affected by coronavirus, such as hotels and cruise companies.”

The SEP weighs in: ‘No corporate bailouts! Direct financial resources to the working people, not the capitalist elite!’, 23 March 2020, wsws.org

“Emergency funding to fully cover the lost wages and salaries of all working class and middle class families must be the urgent and unconditional priority of the economic response to the pandemic. Mortgage and rent payments, car loans, medical expenses, insurance premiums, and tuition and student debt must be suspended for the duration of the health crisis.

At the same time, small- and medium-size businesses must receive financial support so that they can avoid bankruptcy and reopen their enterprises as soon as medical conditions permit.

This program, which prioritizes the needs and interests of the working class, is diametrically opposed to the multitrillion-dollar “fiscal stimulus” that is being worked out in closed-door negotiations between the Trump administration, congressional leaders and corporate executives.

While deceitful and cynical lip service is being paid to protecting workers, the only purpose of the negotiations in Washington is to protect the wealth and profits of the superrich corporate-financial oligarchs. On a scale even greater than the bailout of 2008-09, the titans of Wall Street and the corporate boardrooms are demanding that the government place limitless sums at their disposal.

Up to this point, the federal government has spent less than $10 billion on emergency disaster relief related to the pandemic. And yet the US Treasury has purchased some $600 billion in securities in recent weeks, meaning it has spent 60 times more money propping up the banks than on addressing the healthcare crisis.

On top of the more than $2 trillion that has already been pledged to backstop the values of financial assets held by major banks, Congress is debating an additional $2 trillion bailout package.

The vast majority of that proposal consists in various handouts to business in the form of a payroll tax holiday and loans, including measures specifically targeting the airline and other industries. Less than $50 billion of the bill funds emergency measures to combat the pandemic. Just one company, Boeing, is demanding a bailout larger than every public health measure contained in the bill.

While the Republicans and Democrats haggle over details of the bailout, they agree that 1) massive sums of money must be funneled through the major corporations; 2) that no measures be taken that limit or threaten the wealth of the executives and large investors; and 3) that the interests of the capitalist profit system and private property will remain unmolested and unchallenged. The banks and large corporations will not only continue to rule. These institutions and their executives and large shareholders are to emerge from the crisis richer and more powerful than ever.

The New York Times declared in an editorial published yesterday, “The only practical way to limit mass unemployment, and to preserve previously viable companies, is for the government to pump money into the private sector.”

In 2019, US companies spent $798 billion buying back their own stock, a figure exceeding even what was spent before the 2008 financial crisis.

Share buybacks were one of the principal means employed by corporate executives to enrich themselves. As the Harvard Business Review explained:

The 465 companies in the S&P 500 Index in January 2019 that were publicly listed between 2009 and 2018 spent, over that decade, $4.3 trillion on buybacks, equal to 52% of net income, and another $3.3 trillion on dividends, an additional 39% of net income. In 2018 alone, even with after-tax profits at record levels because of the Republican tax cuts, buybacks by S&P 500 companies reached an astounding 68% of net income, with dividends absorbing another 41%.

 

One response to “Amerikan Cornonavirus stimulation package: a PSA

  1. ‘Democrats block SECOND attempt to pass coronavirus stimulus in US Senate’, 23 Mar, 2020, Rt.com

    “The so-called Phase III stimulus is supposed to provide cash payments to Americans dealing with surprise unemployment as well as loans to companies struggling to make payroll.

    Senate Democrats complained the package represented a “slush fund” for big business, accusing Republicans of using the urgency of the crisis to bail out their wealthy donors.
    The GOP, on the other hand, slammed the minority party for holding the American people hostage to partisan politics, as the Democrats made ever-growing demands in the Senate talks to include unrelated policy priorities in the bill.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has drawn up a competing coronavirus aid bill that, at 1,119 pages, manages to include every item on longstanding Democratic wish lists, most of which have nothing to do with coronavirus but which would benefit from being smuggled along in a must-pass bill.

    While Senate Democrats had initially supported the stimulus, Pelosi announced her competing bill at the eleventh hour, pushing for several of the coronavirus-unrelated provisions to be inserted into the Senate version. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina) hinted at such an outcome as early as Thursday, according to the Hill, reportedly telling his fellow Democrats on a conference call that “This is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

    Pelosi’s mammoth bill includes provisions to bail out the US postal service – one of the few industries likely to thrive under coronavirus-induced quarantine – and mandate “diversity” on the boards of companies receiving stimulus funds. It also shoehorns in same-day voter registration and early voting requirements, as well as collective bargaining for federal employees and carbon-offset requirements for airlines receiving any of the money.
    The phonebook-sized legislation veers further into the realm of self-parody with a requirement that airlines provide passengers with information on greenhouse gas emissions

    https://www.rt.com/usa/483887-stimulus-democrats-block-virus/

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