• Cody Uhls

What the COVID-19 Relief Bill Will Entail

Photo Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

COVID-19 has grown exponentially over the past few months. It’s scary, it’s deadly and we can’t treat this disease like anything we have ever known.

Luckily, finally, a relief package was passed last week. Here’s what we know about it:

Direct Payments:

The bill will include direct $1,200 checks sent to taxpayers once. A $2,400 check will be sent to couples married and filing jointly and if a person has children, an additional $500 will be sent for every child in the household. According to Vox, “The final policy marks a significant change from the direct payments initially proposed by Republicans, which would have given less to many individuals who do not have taxable income.”

Is this enough? No. (More to come on this point.)

But is it better than nothing? Yes.

Business Loan Payments:

A $500 billion loan will be paid to businesses and municipalities affected by the virus. There will also be a $367 billion payment to small businesses affected by COVID-19.

“The legislation ensures that these taxpayer-backed loans cannot go to firms owned by President Trump, other White House officials or members of Congress,” writes The Washington Post. “This would suggest that Trump-owned properties, including hotels that have been impacted, cannot seek taxpayer assistance.”

Obviously, if Mr. Trump were to specifically ask for his businesses to receive gains and benefits from the government, that would be against the “Emoluments Clause” in the Constitution and impeachable.

The problem, though, is the bill might be able to still benefit Mr. Trump and his businesses. The “fine print” of the bill might benefit the Trump Organization. “the law would still leave room for Mr. Trump to benefit,” writes The New York Times. “At least two of the provisions, intended to help the hotel and restaurant industries, could potentially provide financial help to the Trump Organization.” It later states, “The provision could potentially benefit Mr. Trump’s companies, among many others, by allowing them to immediately write off money spent on renovations at hotels or restaurants, instead of having to take the deduction over 37 years.”

Unemployment Insurance:

The bill will increase unemployment insurance by $600 per week for four months. This will help those who have now added certain payments. This will be in addition to what states are normally paying unemployment numbers. This provision will benefit gig and freelance workers. Those who don’t have an employer will not get the same benefits as those who have a standard employer.

Benefits to Hospitals, Medical Equipment and Healthcare Professionals:

The bill offers a $150 billion stimulus for hospitals, and the equipment necessary to combat the virus. $100 billion will head directly to the hospitals, $1 billion will go to the Indian Health Service, and the rest will go to equipment, such as respirators and ventilators.

Increased Aid to State and Local Governments:

$150 billion of federal funds will be allocated to state and local governments to help combat COVID-19, and $8 billion of that will go to Tribal Governments.

$2 trillion is a considerable sum of money, but it isn’t going to solve all our problems. A one-time payment of $1,200 isn’t enough. It’s a start, but not enough. Canada is offering $2,000 per month for those out of work, while still including the standard unemployment benefits.

The Guardian says, “The size and the comprehensive nature of the package will limit the amount of pain that the US is going to suffer as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic but it is not going to eradicate it entirely.”

We are still going to be dealing with colossal unemployment rates. Not only are the rates of unemployment skyrocketing, but they are also going to be up more than “five times the highest level of claims seen during the Great Recession.

People are going to suffer, even with a stimulus package that dwarfs that of which we saw during the Great Recession. This is one of the first times in history we have been stuck in the middle of a pandemic and financial crisis.

What we can’t see happen is a massive bailout for corporations and other big businesses. “Trump’s declaring ‘I will be the oversight’ for the payouts, as he did Monday, didn’t make these experts feel any better,” writes the Post. The problem is, the fine print of the bill doesn’t really explain what businesses and corporations will do with their stimulus checks.

This time last year, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson announced they would return $11 billion to their shareholders via buybacks and dividends by 2021. This helped the company’s share price jump 3 percent.

Now, Marriott hotels have laid off thousands of workers and Mr. Sorenson was one of many CEOs imploring Mr. Trump to help bail them out during this pandemic.

These companies have had plenty of opportunities to save money for another recession, but they didn’t learn anything from the Great Recession and have since spent more money on stock buybacks.

We cannot let this happen again. Bailouts do nothing but hurt the citizens and workers who make up this country.

Right now, we must all stand together and fix the problem. We must practice social distancing, healthy habits such as washing hands and regularly sanitizing surfaces and listening to the CDC and other experts as to what must be done to swiftly come to a solution.

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