WASHINGTON, D.C. – So, what would have been unbelievable just three weeks ago — the need for trillions in stimulus spending from DC — the $2 trillion stimulus package, designed to blunt the impact of all the collateral damage from coronavirus fears, has passed.
So what’s in it? First, the part that may be most significant to you and your family, particularly if you’ve been hit by the virus itself, or the arguably more impactful government enforced closures:
The income levels will be based on 2018 tax filings, or 2019 tax filings if you’ve already sent them in. While this will undoubtedly provide a much needed shot in the arm for millions laid off due to the epidemic closures, those that made more than the limit in 2018/19, but are now facing steep economic loss due to the virus, are left out.
Imagine being self-employed, earning more than the limit last year, but now faced with a dearth of clients or customers. Seemingly everyone around you is getting cash injections straight from Uncle Sam, but not you. That’s the problem with the socialist credo, “From each according to ability, to each according to need.” Those ‘needs’ are a judgement call, and the more productive earning you do, the less you worth you are in a redistribution scheme.
Beyond this, there is a TON of other items included in this huge $2 trillion legislation.
Beefed-up unemployment benefits
What they got: People who are unemployed would get an extra $600 per week for up to four months, on top of state unemployment benefits to make up for 100 percent of lost wages. The final agreement provides an extra month of unemployment benefits than what Senate Republicans had originally sought.
Why it matters: A group of GOP senators threatened Wednesday to block a fast-tracked vote on the measure, arguing that some workers would actually get a raise over their actual pay. “We have incentivized people not to go back to work,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said. Unemployment claims are also climbing by the tens of thousands every day in states across the country, and congressional negotiators acknowledge that benefits may need yet another boost through additional relief packages.
(More than 100 percent of lost wages seems like a pretty good reason to stay on the dole, an one step closer to the Left’s dreams of a socialist Utopia. Great.)
Loans to industries: $500 billion
What they got: The Treasury Department would divvy up a $500 billion pot of loans to struggling industries like airlines, and even cities and states.
Why it matters: Rules added to the bill will order an inspector general and accountability committee to oversee how the money is spent, rather than giving Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin broad power to cut the loan checks. Veterans of the 2008 bank bailout say, however, that the effectiveness of that oversight will only be as strong as the chosen watchdogs and how much power they really have.
Hospitals gets their wish: $100 billion
What they got: Health care providers would secure $100 billion in grants to help fight the coronavirus and make up for dollars they have lost by delaying elective surgeries and other procedures to focus on the outbreak. They would also get a 20 percent bump in Medicare payments for treating patients with the virus.
Why it matters: This figure is exactly what three powerful groups representing physicians, hospitals and nurses had demanded, though for-profit hospitals were lobbying for much more. But there are still questions about whether there will be significant guardrails on how the money will be split up. The coronavirus will hit rural hospitals especially hard, since they already operate on thin margins and have limited staffing capacity. So some lawmakers have been working to ensure enough money goes to those sites.
Aid to airlines: $58 billion
What they got: Airlines would receive $29 billion in grants, and $29 billion in loans and loan guarantees, as well as a reprieve from paying three of their major excise taxes on the price of a ticket, the fuel tax and a cargo tax. That funding comes with strings, though — no stock buybacks, and limits on executive compensation, to start. Half the funds would go toward “the continuation of payment of employee wages, salaries, and benefits” while the other half would go to loans and loan guarantees for passenger airlines, repair stations and ticket agents — subject to conditions.
Why it matters: This is the amount that the industry sought. The bill doesn’t include some conditions that Democrats wanted, like commitments to cutting emissions. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA cheered the bill, saying the grants in particular would “save hundreds of thousands of jobs.”
(This is a corporate bail out, plain and simple. They’ve given nearly $30 billion to airlines that nickle and dime you at every opportunity, only to delay and cancel your flight. It cements a precedent that the American taxpayer is responsible for providing job security for flight attendants.)
Prize for retaining payroll
What they got: Businesses would get a tax credit for keeping idled workers on their payrolls during the coronavirus pandemic, so long as the businesses meet certain criteria. They would get a refund for half of what they spend on wages, up to $5,000 per worker.
Why it matters: To qualify, businesses have to prove they took a 50 percent loss compared to the same quarter in years past. And to keep companies from double-dipping on aid under the bill, employers won’t be able to get special SBA loans if they opt for the tax credit.
State and local governments: $150 billion
What they got: The agreement would provide $150 billion for state and local governments, with $8 billion set aside for local governments, which are bleeding tax revenue as only essential businesses remain open and unemployment claims climb by the tens of thousands every day.
Why it matters: Congressional negotiators are already talking about a fourth legislative relief package that could include more money for state and local governments. Governors warned this week that their states are running out of funding to fulfill the skyrocketing number of unemployment claims, and could face multibillion-dollar budget shortfalls in the weeks and months to come. The funding the stimulus provides is only a “drop in the bucket” compared to the need, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
Pentagon plus-up: $10.5 billion
What they got: The Defense Department would field an infusion of $10.5 billion, including $1.5 billion for the National Guard to deploy up to 20,000 on-call soldiers to help state response teams fight the coronavirus over the next six months. The bill would also spend $415 million on research and development work at the Pentagon, aimed at developing vaccines and antiviral medicine.
Why it matters: The bipartisan rescue package gives the DoD well above the $8.3 billion the Trump administration requested and what House Democrats wanted.
And there is much, much more. Plenty of pork, too. For instance the bill still includes $25 million for a performing arts center in an influential lawmaker’s district. You can find out what else helps the bill add up to $2 trillion here.