Coronavirus

The Cronyism Buried in the Latest Coronavirus Relief Bill

It requires companies to allow its workers to take paid sick leave, unless the business employs more than 500 people. What?

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A much-discussed coronavirus aid package hung in limbo today as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tried to reach a bipartisan consensus on measures that are meant to provide relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the House passed the bill on Saturday morning, Pelosi and Mnuchin returned to hammer out a series of technical corrections.

Its current iteration includes free coronavirus testing, additional funding for food security initiatives, bolstered unemployment insurance, and a temporary paid leave program. Under the latter provision, those who have coronavirus, who are acting as caretakers for one or more family members with coronavirus, who are quarantined, or whose schedules have been scrambled by widespread school closures are entitled to two weeks of full paid sick leave and three months of paid medical leave, where workers would collect no less than two-thirds of their wages. The government would reimburse the cost with new tax credits.

But there's a catch: The text currently exempts businesses with more than 500 employees from having to comply—a possible example of corporate cronyism, likely introduced by Mnuchin.

In these cases, readers might typically expect to see an exemption laid out for small businesses, who are more likely to crumble under the weight of a staff reduction. While the legislation allows the Labor Department to exempt companies with less than 50 employees if paid leave "would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern," it is not a guarantee.

So if the government's priority is curbing the pandemic, why are large companies—which employ millions of Americans and have more personnel to weather temporary absences—allowed to pass?

When Vice President Mike Pence was asked that question, he declined to answer. One potential explanation: The Trump administration is granting a favor to suffering mega-industries, for which Mnuchin has also floated giving a bailout.

Democrats are no strangers to inserting incongruous measures of their own. Just last week, an earlier version of Pelosi's coronavirus appropriations bill contained a permanent paid family leave program, including for victims of stalking. One can't be sure what that has to do with combating coronavirus.

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  1. “It requires companies to allow its workers to take paid sick leave, unless the business employs more than 500 people. What?”

    Larger corporations can afford more campaign contributions than smaller corporations.

    Next question?

    1. Oh geez, now I’m agreeing with Sqrls. What the hell is going on?

      1. No one should have to pay for labor they’re not getting. Or don’t need.

        I think there was a novel written a long time ago about the government trying to manage the economy in a crisis. Can’t remember what it was called?

      2. I know, right? It really is the end of days.

    2. Can we just switch to publically funded campaigns? Lobbying is way out of hand.

    3. SQRLSY One: Bingo. Right on the money (no pun intended).

  2. If you remove all of the cronyism, is there a bill left? My guess would be no.

  3. >>The text currently exempts businesses with more than 500 employees from having to comply

    c’mon, Shelly.

  4. the government creating more problems to solve the problems they created.

    1. No, that’s the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

      1. Chirpy-Boy and Bart, Jr. lol

  5. Isn’t this at least possibly a cost containment angle rather than a crony one? I may be wrong about the average benefits packages of larger companies, but could the argument be that companies with more than 500 people are probably already giving better benefits and we don’t need to give them a tax-subsidized version of what they already do?

    1. There are tons of ways to rephrase that if they wanted to force small companies to copy/emulate what big companies already do.

      My guess this is just the big company lobbyists ensuring that as many small companies are dead and dying and shedding employees. Forcing other companies to lay people off and/or shut down via govt reg is exactly the sort of sleazy way I would expect big companies and their lobbyists to ‘tailor’ proposals to ensure that someone smaller will get hit harder.

      1. Good for government control, good for the big companies who find the campaigns of elected officials.

      2. Everything is so terrible and unfair.

    2. I agree. In all likelihood, these companies (>500 employees) already have paid sick leave as a benefit. I think the cronyism and lobbyist arguments are specious. If it is a problem, there will be action.

  6. When Vice President Mike Pence was asked that question, he declined to answer.

    Well, at least he never claimed it’s the most transparent administration in history.

    1. I guess you’re unfamiliar with how Boehm twists and invents shit for his columns. Let’s have a little look:

      “So if the government’s priority is curbing the pandemic, why are large companies—which employ millions of Americans and have more personnel to weather temporary absences—allowed to pass?
      When Vice President Mike Pence was asked that question, he declined to answer.”

      Wow, terrible huh? That rascally Trump is giving large companies a pass. Oh look, he included a cite. It must be legit, video of a press conference or something.
      Oh, it’s just a rant on a twitter feed. From discredited impeachment aficionado Justin Amash.
      Let’s see what he says:

      The vice president evades a question about why companies with 500 or more employees were exempted from the latest bill’s paid emergency leave and FMLA requirements. The American people deserve full transparency and honest answers.

      Wait a second… That bill comes from the Democrats in the House, it’s not the Administration’s. How is it their fault.
      And why even ask Pence about something the administration wasn’t involved in? That’d be a question someone in the House of Reps.

      So you see how pathologically dishonest Binion is now? And this isn’t even a one off, he does this every fucking article.

  7. Why is anyone surprised at this? Everyone knows that Cronyvirus has certain predictable symptoms.

    1. >>Cronyvirus

      love. it.

    2. “Cronyvirus”
      Chortle

    3. Cronyvirus….clearly, you are from the People’s Republic of NJ, where cronyism and corruption has been raised to an art form. 🙂

  8. Am I the only one that can’t close the “anyclip” window on their phone all of the sudden?

    This might finish what not being libertarian anymore started.

    1. Yes, they removed the workaround.
      I make it a point to never open the videos as a form of protest.

    2. It was like that for me on the PC for a bit, but I can close it again now.

  9. I thought the government was paying the cost of the leave, that’s probably why small businesses get it and big ones don’t.

    1. Yep, the government is paying. With government money, right?

    2. The government IS paying, but ask a small business if they would rather have the worker doing productive things for two weeks or collect a check from Uncle Sam for 2/3rds of that absent employee’s wages. Product isn’t going to produce and sell itself.

      1. Employees who go to work while sick because they don’t have paid leave are famously productive.

    3. No. Sick leave is paid for by employer. There seemed to be talk of some govt assistance, but that won’t stop me from going under.

  10. How will food be delivered to 340 millionish people if truck haulers and dock workers decide to stay home and watch Netflix, instead of showing up? Everyone has gone mad.

  11. Politicians beclown themselves as the coronacircus travels on.

  12. A pic on all their houses. The r option is unfunded tax cuts and runaway military spending. The d option blows up the budget too, except with handouts. Both love cronyism and won’t touch boomers’ social security and Medicare. We’re up a creek and have been for decades.

    1. Given a choice between handouts and military spending, why wouldn’t you choose handouts?

  13. I first became suspicious of the “conservative” [read: libertarian fruitcake] response when it started-out with tax cuts, then continued to find a way to suck-up the Social Security trust fund so down the road some idiot-head can make the claim the trust fund is gone and thus Social Security must be “privatized” to make some bananaheaded speculator wealthy.

    Why should we continue to expect anti-government ideologues to run a country during a crisis when they’ve all spent 40+ years trying to dismantle the government?

    1. “I first became suspicious of the “conservative” [read: libertarian fruitcake] response”
      Pretty sure that the House is currently DNC operated.

      “Why should we continue to expect anti-government ideologues to run a country during a crisis when they’ve all spent 40+ years trying to dismantle the government?”
      Umm… are you aware of where you are posting right now?

    2. when it started-out with tax cuts, then continued to find a way to suck-up the Social Security trust fund so down the road some idiot-head can make the claim the trust fund is gone and thus Social Security must be “privatized” to make some bananaheaded speculator wealthy.

      Your conspiracy theory fails because there has never been a “trust fund” in the first place; it’s a fiction.

      Why should we continue to expect anti-government ideologues to run a country during a crisis when they’ve all spent 40+ years trying to dismantle the government?

      US government spending in the 1950’s was a little over 20%; in 1980, it was a little over 30%; today, it’s nearly 40%. The size of the Federal Register was 10000 pages in the 1950’s, 20000 pages in 1970, and it’s 80000 pages now. Fact is that the US government has grown massively in the past 40 years. That’s why people are angry: it’s why wages for the middle class have stagnated and businesses are leaving the US.

      The question is: are people like you just ignorant of basic facts about the US government, or do you deliberately spread misinformation?

      1. US government spending as percentage of GDP in the 1950’s was a little over 20%; in 1980, it was a little over 30%; today, it’s nearly 40%.

        Of course, in absolute term or per capita terms, it has skyrocketed even higher.

    3. We’re all ideologues. Some want to grow government, others want to shrink it. Or would rather both parties had the same ideology? You’d like that, wouldn’t you?

      But here’s the good news for you: Crisis or not, government has been in constant growth anyway. So for all intents and purposes, our ideologued rulers only disagree on degrees of growth, not whether it should grow at all.

      In other words, your side is winning and has been winning decades. And yet, you’re still bitching because apparently government isn’t massive and burdensome enough.

  14. I’ve lost track at how incredibly stupid politicians have been throughout this ordeal.

    Opportunistic jack asses.

  15. But there’s a catch: The text currently exempts businesses with more than 500 employees from having to comply—a possible example of corporate cronyism, likely introduced by Mnuchin.

    First of all, imposing this regulation on any business is an outrage and economically stupid, so exempting any business from it isn’t “cronyism”.

    Second, you blame Mnuchin for this because you evidently have swallowed the Democratic b.s. that they are fighting for the little guy and small businesses. In reality, it doesn’t matter who introduced it, the fact is that Pelosi and Democrats are fine with it, and that shouldn’t surprise you, because Democrats have big corporate donors that like these provisions. They don’t even like it because it saves them money (that’s a nice side benefit), but because it hurts start-ups and smaller competitors. As such, Google and Facebook must be very happy with Pelosi right now.

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  17. Disgusting. The stupid need to feel like they constantly have do “something”, more spending, more regulation, more government stuff!

    But you know what, I blame the people! The politicos wouldn’t be doing “stuff” if it weren’t popular. The people and the pundits, from liberal talking heads to sleazy rabble-rousing populists like Tucker Carlson who won’t shut up about Trump needing cut trade entirely, and just “do more”.

    “Job one of government is the well-being of its people!” Tucker exclaimed. Shut the fuck up!

    As to what “more” exactly besides shutting the borders with Europe, China, trying to fast-track drugs, and keep some industries afloat? They’re not sure. They just know that Trump and Congress need to keep doing some big, costly stuff so it looks like Daddy’s taking care of business. And the result will be a lot of waste on this one thanks to the freaked-out populace.

    1. Seriously? You’re blaming Tucker Carlson for the government’s urge to “do more”? He’s not even in the top 1000 of things to blame for excessive government overreach and opportunism.

  18. Or maybe this is just a terrible idea that shouldn’t be implemented regardless of the size of business and the only argument that he can sell is to exempt large corporations because that’s probably the only group that could get Pelosi to curtail her bullshit crusade?

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  20. This is exactly the opposite of what we need. We need to help workers and small businesses. Instead, as usual, workers suffer at the hands of those who can pay the most campaign contributions, that is, employers of more than 500 people.

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