Senate GOP proposal is not a serious economic stimulus plan

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The one thing America does not need right now as we slide into a potential global depression is more corporate welfare tax cuts. The Republican 2017 corporate welfare tax cut bill has already put the U.S. in a difficult financial bind to respond to this quickly developing economic crisis.

But Republicans only know one tune, tax cuts for corporations. And these evil GOP bastards are following Rahm Emanuel’s famous (infamous) advice: “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” Under the Virus’s Cloak, Trump Pursues Long-Sought Policies: From border controls to anti-union efforts, the Trump administration is using the coronavirus to seek policies that the president wanted before the pandemic.

The New York Times reports, Senate Rescue Package Includes Corporate Tax Cuts and $1,200 Checks:

Senate Republicans, racing to put their imprint on the crisis response, unveiled a package that would provide hundreds of billions of dollars in loans to big corporations and small businesses, large corporate tax cuts and checks of up to $1,200 for taxpayers. The plan would also place limits on a paid-leave program enacted this week to respond to the crisis.

But the 247-page measure, the product of a feverish round of negotiations among Republicans only, was all but certain to face opposition from Democrats who have pressed for more generous paid-leave benefits and targeting help to workers and families rather than large corporations.

Republicans presented a bill that would offer bridge loans of up to $10 million each to small businesses, extend hundreds of billions of dollars in loans to large corporations in distressed industries and send checks as large as $1,200 per adult to individuals earning less than $99,000 per year. The payments would phase in for earners up to $75,000 — meaning lower earners would get smaller checks — and then phase out again at $99,000. Those who did not earn enough to pay income tax would receive much less: $600.

Wait for it:

The Senate bill also includes a raft of temporary changes to the tax code that would reduce the tax liability of large corporations, many of them overriding provisions in the 2017 tax overhaul that were meant to raise revenue to offset corporate rate cuts.

And there it is!

It would place new limits on a paid-leave program that Congress passed and Mr. Trump signed into law this week, shielding small business owners from any costs of paid leave for workers affected by the virus — and limiting how much pay those workers could receive if they are forced to stay home.

How do I describe this plan in terms that anyone can understand? Oh yeah, this plan sucks the big wazoo! This is NOT a serious economic stimulus plan. This is a corporate wish list that benefits large corporations at the expense of millions of American workers about to lose their jobs in the coming weeks without paid leave, and without enhanced unemployment insurance benefits. They may get a one-time check of up to $1,200 someday, which will not even cover the average American household’s expenses for a month.

I would personally like to shove this 247-page piece-o’-shit up Mitch McConnell’s greedy ass!

By way of comparison, the British government today proposed an economic stimulus plan which is more in line with what presumptive Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden suggested in Sunday’s debate: hold American workers harmless and make them whole as the government orders businesses to close and workers to stay at home because of the coronavirus pandemic.

CNN reports, UK government will pay 80% of wages as it closes pubs to fight coronavirus:

The UK government said Friday that it will subsidize the wages of any worker facing unemployment because of the coronavirus pandemic as it ordered the closure of pubs and restaurants to try to contain the outbreak.

Unveiling an unprecedented intervention by the state in the British economy, finance minister Rishi Sunak told reporters that the government will cover 80% of worker salaries for at least the next three months up to a maximum of £2,500 ($2,900) a month, which is more than the average income.

Sunak said the measures would apply to all companies, large or small. The measure was part of a bigger rescue package for British businesses, including tax relief totaling £30 billion and interest-free loans for up to 12 months. A deep recession is looming as activity across the economy grinds to a halt.

Sunak said the government has never had a program on this scale to pay wages and had to build its system “from scratch,” he said, adding that “unlimited funding” is available.

The first payments would be made within weeks, with the program fully up and running by the end of April.

“It marks the start of the UK’s economic fightback — an unparalleled joint effort by enterprise and government to help our country emerge from this crisis with the minimum possible damage,” she said in a statement.

The conservative Tory government of Boris Johnson — asshat Boris Johnson, for chrissakes! — came up with a more serious economic stimulus plan than Mitch McConnell and his circus of Republican clowns in the U.S. Senate.

The measures come on top of programs unveiled by the UK government earlier in the week to support individuals and businesses, including £330 billion in loan guarantees and suspending local business taxes for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors for 12 months. Mortgage providers have also agreed to delay payments for three months for people affected by the coronavirus.

I hate to say this, but let’s follow the lead of the British government on this stimulus plan. This is what is going to be needed to keep the economy from sliding into a depression.

Economic experts are dismissing the $1.2 trillion GOP stimulus proposal under negotiation in the Senate as falling well short of addressing the massive fallout anticipated from the coronavirus pandemic. Stimulus price tag of $1.2T falls way short, some experts say:

“Responding to this kind of protracted slowdown will require a bigger stimulus than the 6% of gross domestic product proposed by the administration,” Narayana Kocherlakota, the former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, wrote in a Bloomberg opinion piece. “It’s going to take a much larger fiscal infusion to make up for that shortfall — something more on the order of $2.5 trillion rather than $1.2 trillion.”

Kocherlakota called for $10,000 cash payments to every adult, significantly more than the two payments of $1,200 included in the Senate GOP proposal.

Democrats are pushing to include an additional $150 billion in funding of federal, state and local COVID-19 response efforts, an order of magnitude larger than the $8.3 billion package President Trump signed into law two weeks ago and the White House’s request this week for about $50 billion more in funding.

In recent days, economic analysts on different points along the political spectrum have said more needs to be done to keep the U.S. economy intact in the coming weeks and months.

The Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, said Friday that at least $2.1 trillion would be required through the end of the year alone to provide financial relief from the coronavirus.

“The likely cost of a fiscal boost sufficient to restore economic healthy by the end of 2020 starts at $2.1 trillion — but it could be more, and fiscal policy should be set to deliver more if conditions warrant,” EPI research director Josh Bivens wrote in a Friday blog post.

Wait for it:

The right-leaning American Enterprise Institute recommended the U.S. follow in the U.K.’s footsteps and shore up all wages at 80 percent to save small businesses. That alone would cost $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion in assistance, they said.

“Low-margin businesses will face great financial difficulty losing multiple months of revenue, and many if not most small businesses would rather shut down or lay off a significant fraction of their workforce than take out a loan, even with a favorable or zero interest rate,” AEI scholars Glenn Hubbard and Michael R. Strain wrote.

Some current and former lawmakers have also come around to the idea that a substantially larger stimulus package will be needed.

“The Federal government is going to underwrite 70 percent of the payroll in this country if the containment policies continue to be this aggressive,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Friday. “It’s going to be a hell of a lot more than $1 trillion.”

Former Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) said Friday that the third round of stimulus will fall far short of what’s necessary to address the economic fallout of the pandemic, predicting Congress will likely need “several” more emergency relief proposals as the true extent of the damage becomes more clear.

“This has been coming in waves, and the waves are getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” he said on a phone call hosted by the Association of Former Members of Congress.

Former Rep. Frank LoBiondo (D-N.J.) delivered a similar assessment.

“There’s probably going to need to be at least several more after this,” he said. “Because we’re going to find out that whatever we include in this one, there are going to be people who are left out. And the people who are left out are going to be suffering as much as anybody was before their phase of it kicked in.”

Goldman Sachs has predicted that initial unemployment insurance claims will spike to a record-shattering 2.25 million for the third week of March. That comes after jobless claims last week increased 70,000 to 281,000. The bank also forecasted unemployment will shoot up to 9 percent from its current level of 3.5 percent.

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called for swift passage of the stimulus measure by early next week, White House, GOP seek stimulus deal by Friday night (trying to ram it down, jam it down the throats of Democrats), the Democratic-led House has its own ideas about what the economic response should look like:

House Democrats are indicating they want to go bigger and broader than the already massive economic stimulus package offered by Senate Republicans to blunt the coronavirus pandemic.

On a Thursday conference call featuring more than 200 members of the House Democratic caucus, lawmakers one by one laid out a sweeping wish list of provisions they want to see included in the nascent package, including a boost in infrastructure spending, an expansion of Social Security benefits and funding for states to set up an all-mail voting system in the event the pandemic extends into November’s elections.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision,” Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told lawmakers, according to a source on the call.

And while not all of the Democratic proposals are likely to emerge in the final House package — legislation that is being crafted by party leaders and various committee heads — they foreshadow a showdown with McConnell and the White House over the size and direction of the latest relief bill, the third to be considered this month as policymakers scramble to prevent the spread of the virus.

McConnell has warned that he wants to limit the proposal to addressing the most immediate economic damage created by the pandemic.

“Anything that doesn’t address that pandemic, it seems to me, should not be considered,” he said.

Really, Mitch? And how exactly does “changes to the tax code that would reduce the tax liability of large corporations, many of them overriding provisions in the 2017 tax overhaul that were meant to raise revenue to offset corporate rate cuts” address the immediate economic damage created by the pandemic?

Yet that could set the chambers on a collision course over what provisions fit that benchmark, as House Democrats press for a wide range of relief provisions that include a broader expansion of unemployment benefits, a boost in Social Security payments and new funding for job training.

“We want to make sure that we get adequate relief to people who need it most, and that there be some economic sideboards on the things we do, so that we’re not just sending checks to wealthy people who don’t need money, so that we’re not just rewarding corporations,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), who was on the caucus call, said Thursday by phone.

On the call, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she had spoken to numerous governors, who had told her they were seeing barriers to their constituents being able to access unemployment insurance. She suggested declaring a disaster, which could remove some of those obstacles and bureaucratic red tape.

“Let’s not worry about the cost. It’s an investment in the health of the economy,” Pelosi told Democratic lawmakers.

“Time is of the essence,” she said.

The ideas offered Thursday ran the gamut.

Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), who just finished a 14-day self-quarantine after being exposed to someone with the virus, proposed that the federal government offer death benefits to families of TSA officers who die from the coronavirus.

Another California Democrat, veteran Rep. Brad Sherman, said the government must provide financial incentives for companies to pursue “risky and unprofitable research” aimed at finding a coronavirus vaccine.

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) said he backed sweeping infrastructure legislation by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), and proposed tying it to the coronavirus package.

Meanwhile, Clyburn, the No. 3 Democratic leader, suggested the deadly outbreak — which has confined millions of children and adults to their homes — has illuminated a need to secure 100 percent broadband coverage, including for schools and rural communities. That funding is especially crucial, Democrats argued, considering the mass closure of schools and the attempt at mobile learning that has followed.

Other Democrats took the opportunity to voice concerns about what they didn’t want in the $1 trillion-plus package.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), whose Bay Area constituents are under a lockdown, said the legislation should not include any bailouts for the cruise industry, which she argued already has an extremely low tax rate of about 1 percent.

McConnell, who needs Democratic support to move the legislation through the Senate, is set to begin negotiations with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Friday. But the GOP leader has made clear he doesn’t want to expand those talks to include Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders, who negotiated the second phase of coronavirus relief, signed by President Trump on Wednesday.

I’m sorry, but screw you Mitch! Without Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats’ input into this stimulus plan, you get nothing. Send him packing!

Any new stimulus package will need the backing of the majority House Democrats to reach the president’s desk. And Pelosi has asked House committee chairs to begin compiling proposals as Democrats craft their own measure.

It’s leverage that hasn’t been overlooked by the Democrats as the negotiations enter a crucial stage and both sides are stressing the urgency of reaching an agreement.

“You’re obviously not going to get a package done without Speaker Pelosi having a huge role in it. There’s just not a way for that to work, nor should there be,” said Huffman. “The House has been the lead on this from day one, and I don’t see any reason why we would suddenly step back and let Mitch McConnell drive the ship.”

Contact your senators to oppose McConnell’s sham stimulus plan and demand a serious stimulus plan that puts American workers first.




1 COMMENT

  1. Typical of Moscow/Massacre Mitch. Let’s give fabulously wealthy people & mega-corporations the treasury but nothing for working people who really need help. All in the name of trickle-down economics.

    Just once I would like to see, on camera, a journalist ask McConnell or any other GOP leader “Trickle-down economics hasn’t worked as advertised in 4 decades. What makes you think they work at all?” Cue the Sir Robin song!

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