Coronavirus

The Next Coronavirus Stimulus Plan: More Spending, Smaller Unemployment Benefits, and Tax Breaks for Going Out To Eat

Senate Republicans announced Monday that the federal government will pay an additional $200 per week in unemployment benefits. The $600 per week benefits boost will expire on July 31.

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Just days before boosted unemployment benefits for millions of American workers who have lost jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic are set to expire, Senate Republicans have unveiled a new stimulus package that would prevent those payments from vanishing entirely.

The proposal outlined on Monday afternoon by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) would give unemployed workers an additional $200 per week on top of whatever benefits they receive through state-level unemployment insurance programs. That's one-third of the current $600 unemployment benefits boost that the federal government has been paying since the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) in late March.

"The American people need more help," McConnell said on the Senate floor as he announced the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act.

The continued-but-reduced payments are on one hand an acknowledgment of the depth of the economic recession triggered by COVID-19 and associated lockdowns—more than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic. On the other, they reflect a growing concern among Republicans about the status of the country's finances after more than $3.6 trillion in emergency spending in recent months, as well as concern that the $600 per week payments might hamper the post-coronavirus recovery.

Though unemployment benefits vary from state to state, the federal "bonus" meant the average worker could qualify for as much as $900 per week—well over $20 an hour, if you assume a standard 40-hour workweek. Last month, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that nearly five out of every six beneficiaries would be earning more money by not working if the $600 unemployment benefits boost was extended through the end of the year.

Senate Democrats have proposed keeping the boosted benefits in place through March 2021 of the economy does not improve, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) trashed the Republican plan in remarks delivered on the Senate floor shortly after McConnell announced the bill.

Some Republicans may also oppose the effort. Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) stormed out of a Senate GOP luncheon last week and slammed his colleagues for proposing more deficit spending. The Club For Growth, a conservative grassroots organization that agreed to look the other way when Congress voted on the deficit-hiking CARES Act in March, called on lawmakers to reject the new stimulus plan. David McIntosh, the organization's president, said in a statement that "the legislation irresponsibly spends on an amended extension of the expanded unemployment insurance benefit and another round of stimulus checks" and criticized McConnell for not including language that would expand educational choice for parents of students in public schools that may not reopen in the fall.

The HEALS Act, if passed, would be the fourth major stimulus package intended to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is in many ways a direct sequel to the CARES Act.

Like the CARES Act did in April, the HEALS Act calls for sending $1,200 direct payments to American households, and it would provide another infusion of federal cash to provide loans to small businesses that keep employees on payroll during the crisis. As was the case previously, those $1,200 checks will be phased out for individuals who earned higher levels of income last year. CNBC reported that the phase-outs will start around $75,000 and up. The payments will include an additional $500 per dependent.

When it comes to the small business loans, Sen. Susan Collins (R–Maine) said Monday they would be targeted specifically toward businesses with fewer than 300 employees—a narrower focus that would address one of the major complaints about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) established by the CARES Act.

McConnell said the bill would also include legal liability protection for businesses and hospitals to protect them from lawsuits if customers or patients contract the coronavirus—unless the business is guilty of "gross misconduct" or "willful ignorance." And Sen. Tim Scott (R–S.C.) told HuffPost that the bill will include an amped-up tax break intended to encourage Americans to eat out at restaurants.

The bill also includes $105 billion to help schools safely reopen, but it is unclear whether the payments will be made available only to schools that decide to reopen fully—something the president has suggested.

There is no official price tag for the HEALS Act yet—but, as Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown reported yesterday morning, the best estimates are coming in at around $1 trillion.

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      1. Democrats want to spend even more you blithering idiot. Marxist my butt.

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  2. I guess reason would like to see these people thrown out of their houses and apartments. That’ll make things better.

    1. If by “these people” you mean every member of Congress, then yes, it will.

    2. According to libertarian moral theories, millions of Americans decided to become too lazy to work right at the same time a pandemic happened.

      1. Even you’re not that stupid.

        1. I think sometimes the people favoring the stupid argument should have to defend it, not me.

          If it wasn’t a sudden unexplained rash of laziness, then collective efforts to weather the storm of a naturally inflicted economic crisis might start seeming like a sensible idea, no?

          1. It’s a “naturally inflicted economic crisis”?

            1. Inflicted by nature. The banks are off the hook for this one. I suspect somehow Republicans will figure out how to blame poor brown people, though.

              1. It’s just as much a “naturally inflicted economic crisis” as the holodomor was a “naturally inflicted agricultural crisis.”

                1. Weren’t you just accusing me of exaggerating?

          2. “If it wasn’t a sudden unexplained rash of laziness…”

            Oh I think it’s quite easily explained. Governments outlawed work that they didn’t deem essential. Laziness had nothing to do with it.

            But you knew this. You were being dishonest.

            1. That and demand fell off a cliff when people realized the cost of going out might be a month with a tube down their throat followed by death.

              I mean, you could just take the win for the rational market actor theory.

              1. So, what you’re saying is, we don’t need the government to handle this.

                That was your point, right?

                1. It’s a highly contagious deadly pandemic, Brian. Let’s attempt to keep our heads at least partially outside of our assholes.

                  1. Well if most of the world’s response is due to fear, then we at least agree that governments are achieving much less than individual people acting in their best interest, right?

                    Ok, so government is mostly ineffective. Got it.

                    1. Let’s start with governments not actively encouraging citizens to ignore commonsense hygiene measures as some kind of political statement. Remember when Trump did that?

                    2. If Trump had closed the border, that would have been racist.

                    3. His entire life has been filled with racism if you go by the stories told by his relatives, and also his many many statements on the matter.

                      He also thinks you solve every problem by picking an ethnic group and banning it. Even a virus.

                    4. Tony, odd that Trump was viewed as not being racist, at all, until the moment he ran as a Republican.

                      Weird.

                    5. Odd that you don’t see him being a racist when he’s doing it in front of your face.

                  2. It’s a highly contagious virus with a small risk of death for people in certain groups based on advanced age and other medical conditions. So instead of protecting those groups, most state governors shut it all down.

              2. Is that why restaurants with a drive thru have a line of cars that wraps around the block?

              3. Demand in some areas sure; Amazon is hiring though.

              4. If the people chose to not go out…why was there a need for lockdown orders in the first place?

            2. and somehow every government job in California was still deemed essential. even though I can’t reach anyone at the DMV to renew my license.

          3. It was the collective efforts of far-left governors that brought the economies of 5 states to a screeching halt.

            1. Did far-left governors force Ron DeSantis to ignore the problem, offer his state to Trump to do with as he please when other states were canceling things like political conventions with no safety precautions, then finally cave to undeniable rates of infection and lock down about 3 months too late? Which far left governor turned Florida into a global hotspot?

              1. Florida’s still there, dude.

              2. FL – 4341 dead
                NJ – 13811
                NY – 11242 (outside NYC), 20460 (NYC)
                PA – 7227
                MI – 5596

                I’ll take DeSantis’ inaction over far-left incarceration.

                1. And here’s the CDC database that tracks COVID deaths in great detail, by age, sex, and in relation to pneumonia and influenza.

                2. Not if your life depended on it. You guys aren’t that devoted to reelecting Republicans, surely.

                  1. I’m in NJ. DeSantis did it right.

                    1. Really? Would you rather be in Florida right now?

                    2. It’s hot up here, It’s hot down there. Their taxes are lower.

                    3. I’m in Florida and I’m not dead, you scared little eunuch

                    4. CMW is actually DEFENDING the actions of Murphy and Cuomo? Seriously?

                3. Using facts; that’s dirty pool.

              3. I knew it: it’s Trumps all the way down.

        2. Give credit where it’s due. He is that stupid.

          1. lol word.

      2. According to socialist theory, they all became too good for work. Each and every one of them, equally.

      3. There is among some the idea that at heart most people are lazy. Many people can’t go back to work. Lucky people, usually white collar, work from home. But for other there may not be work or that work might not be safe. The idea that we squeeze these people seem wrong. Instead we are talking about stimulus money or payroll tax cuts that most people don’t need.

      4. Very few people lost their jobs due to the pandemic, mostly in the travel and hospitality industries. Then state governors decided to “do something” and forced millions more out of work for no good reason.

    3. Good point. I mean, every landlord is a character from those works of non-fiction by Charles Dickens. If government didn’t outlaw evictions, then every landlord would evict everyone who couldn’t pay rent because government made it illegal for them to work. Yep.

    4. I would like landlords to be able to evict people who don’t pay their rent, yes.

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  4. The business meal deduction is stupid. It only applies to those expensing business meals, which is a very small percentages of those eating out. I highly doubt that being able to save a few dollars on taxes will encourage businesses to eat out so much as to have any measurable affect.

    1. its also hard to eat out when diners are still locked down

    2. What are you talking about MollyGodiva? Congress critters eat out at a business lunch EVERY day! This is going to save each of them thousands in taxes!

      1. Exactly! And as a small business owner hanging on by a thread, business lunches aren’t really a concern right now. Some people have real problems. The businesses that are going to benefit from this deduction the most don’t need it.

  5. What can you really say about Republicans at this point? In this case, they’re just as politically-motivated sacks of shit as Dems. If you think they’re not, the only other way to look at it is that they’re just as economically illiterate as Dems. Take your pick.

    1. Have you even bothered to look at what the Democrats want to do if Biden the Senile old fool is elected? I will take Republican sh*t over Democrat sh*t any day.

      Green new deal forever!

      1. On the other hand, the Rs tell its what they want to do, then do the opposite. Lower taxes, less spending, blah, blah, blah.

        So my point still stands: they’re politically- motivated sacks of shit. That has nothing to do with what the Democrats say and do.

  6. I wonder when this federal unemployment bonus will end. Maybe never?

  7. Rand Paul is a stupid person. Is deficit spending never allowed? Not even during a global crisis of mass death? What is he protecting us from? The default that’s been promised for three generations? A turn of events he can’t even conceptualize let alone guarantee?

    A national emergency is the time you don’t care about deficits. And for our Republican friends, it’s not usually considered a national emergency that Don Jr. lacks a second beach house because he has to pay taxes. Something more like a pandemic.

    1. Mass death? Yeah. Totally.

      1. Does it not count as mass death till we reach a million deaths?

        1. When the deaths exceed that of any other seasonal ailment, then we’ll talk about details.

          1. You get that the standard seasonal ailments are still gonna be here. They aren’t taking a break this year to let coronavirus kill in their stead for a while.

            1. I’m pretty sure he understands that.

              1. It’s just that “people are already dying of other stuff, so this cause of mass death is not important” seems like a faulty argument, to a degree.

                1. That argument is just as faulty as every other straw man I’ve heard.

                  1. 9/11 was technically just another day at the office with a few extra afternoons off.

                    1. And everyone loves the TSA in perpetuity.

                2. Define “mass death.”

                  1. Death in numbers such that if a murderous dictator were causing it, we’d think it was mass.

                    1. So anything over a hundred?

                      By your definition any sickness that kills anyone is something causing mass death that justifies the government destroying the economy.

                      When does the cure become worse than the disease?

                    2. I think there should be a difference in “mass murder” and “mass death.”

                    3. I can see we have gone down a path of pointless semantic bickering, so I withdraw my adjective. It’s good death. The best death. Tremendous.

                      The government isn’t destroying the economy, Sarc. The government has absolutely no interest in doing that. The global pandemic can do it just fine on its own. Though feel free to lay some blame at Republicans for being inexplicably stingy on the mitigation efforts. That is a choice government officials are making right now.

                    4. Nature is a bitch.

                      So let’s just hide in our hide holes until we are old and… well… die… of natural causes?

                    5. I love your whole “government can’t wreck the economy because politicians have no incentive to do that” rationale. It’s adorable, and just as good an argument as the straw men.

                    6. Republicans are quite capable of destroying economies without the actual intention of doing so, though sometimes you do wonder.

                    7. “The government isn’t destroying the economy, Sarc.”

                      Tell that to the business owners who face police action should they allow their employees to work.

                      “The government has absolutely no interest in doing that.”

                      That is debatable.

                      “The global pandemic can do it just fine on its own.”

                      The supercold isn’t destroying the economy. Government reaction is destroying the economy.

                      “Though feel free to lay some blame at Republicans for being inexplicably stingy on the mitigation efforts.”

                      My state is run by Democrats.

                    8. I think there should be a difference in “mass murder” and “mass death.”

                      “Kill one man, and you are a murderer. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill them all, and you are a God.”

            2. Suicide has killed more people than COVID thus far.

              Just sayin’

        2. I think you should at least break over 1%.

        3. The CDC has a chart showing excess deaths from all causes – it’s updated every week. In April we were about 30-35% above the normal trend line and have been tracking down since, with just a slight 3-4% move above trend in the last two weeks. About 8,000 people die every day in the USA. COVID-19 is serious, but so far, we have not seen that many more deaths in the USA. Protect the old people and others with compromised immune systems – everybody else needs to do a group hug and get back to work and/or school. People are gonna die no matter what. Peace, love, and herd immunity.

          1. Great comment! This is the information that should be on the news every single day. Many of the talking heads act as if people don’t die everyday and that as long as a person doesn’t die from COVID-19 they will live to be a 100. And everyday there is more insistence on compliance with mitigation efforts, when the vast majority have already been wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing for months and here we are. Life must go on while there is still something left to salvage.

            1. I’ve been gently reminding some of my friends that are so worried about people not wearing masks that good hand hygiene is just as important – and probably more important. There’s no doubt in my mind that lots of people are putting their dirty hands on their masks every day.

              1. I agree. Wearing masks constantly is diffucult to get used to and causes most people to touch their faces more often. Its true for me and a lot of people I see when I’m out. And now that the weather is very hot peole pull them down to breathe better and then pull them back up when they pass someone on the street, which kind of defeats the purpose.

                Even worse is the plastic gloves some have taken to wearing all day. They don’t seem to get they are just transferring germs to everything they touch. I brought some produce from a street stand yesterday and the guy takes my stuff to weigh and bag with gloves and then takes my dirty cash and gives me change with the same gloves. He does a swift business so extrapolate my experience for all his customers throughout the day.

              2. I wonder how many people think it’s okay if they go out when they’re sick as long as they’re wearing a mask. Masks give people a false sense of security.

    2. What I like to know is where was Rand Paul when an unnecessary tax cut was voted on in 2017. Did he say then that the economy is going good, the cut not needed and that it will add to the deficit or did he just follow in line and vote with his party. It easier for him to say no to the people struggle now than to his donors when they wanted tax cuts.

      1. unnecessary tax cut

        that resulted in massive economic growth

        1. No they did not. The economy was not significantly different from the path it was already on before the tax cuts. We saw minimal improvement for the debt we gained.

      2. Taxes were too high, so the tax cut was necessary.
        Taxes are still too high, keep cutting.

      3. Lolbertarians love them some taxes!

      4. You know, the government has no divine right to that money.

    3. I don’t know about stupid I definitely don’t think he’s that, he has some completely different thoughts then you – I’d agree with you it’s not realistic right now.

    4. When exactly did we stop deficit spending? We have been redlining on deficit spending for decades. There has been no time when you have stopped complaining that the country is not spending enough.

    5. Every year is the time Congress doesn’t care about deficits.

      Congress already borrowed a few trillion for the first bailout, 3 times as much as they blew on TARP. Now we’re supposed to need to borrow even more of our own money to pay back later? Why?

  8. >>$1,200 direct payments

    sweet I broke my bat last night.

    1. On a window, or a cop?

      1. funny. slider.

  9. I don’t know why the federal government has to set a fixed amount. Why not just do a dollar-for-dollar match whatever benefits the state is giving people? That would give workers 80 to 90% of what they were making working (more like 87-97% due to no SS and Medicare taxes) which seems appropriate to me as long as their place of employment is forced closed

  10. Brian
    July.28.2020 at 11:51 am
    And everyone loves the TSA in perpetuity.

    – couldn’t reply to this directly; nevertheless, well played sir.

    1. ya was funny.

  11. Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) stormed out of a Senate GOP luncheon last week and slammed his colleagues for proposing more deficit spending.

    So I get to say that the GOP is both bankrupting the country and hates poor people.

    1. This country could do with more people storming out of luncheons. Hopefully he splashed his cocktail in someones face before he stood up.

    2. Democrats: Demand $3T bill
      Republicans: Pare it down to $1T

      Libertarians: Republicans are awful!

  12. HEALS Act
    Nuclear holocaust cannot come soon enough.

  13. If Congress had an extra trillion dollars lying around, this would be a nice gesture.

    As it is, they are borrowing from the taxpayers and giving money to another (somewhat overlapping) group of people.

    Why not just let everyone go back to work and end all the bailouts?

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  15. “Though unemployment benefits vary from state to state, the federal “bonus” meant the average worker could qualify for as much as $900 per week—well over $20 an hour, if you assume a standard 40-hour workweek. Last month, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that nearly five out of every six beneficiaries would be earning more money by not working if the $600 unemployment benefits boost was extended through the end of the year.”

    I guess my representatives don’t know how much the state pays in unemployment. In my case, the new combined benefit state/federal is 18% of what I made while employed. What the “F” am I supposed to do with that?

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  21. If we needed any more proof that stimulus is a theory no more valid than that of Trump’s favorite doctor’s theory of demon sperm as the cause of disease; we have it. The Covid-19 stimulus was / is the largest and fastest stimulus package and its result has, likewise, been the largest and fastest drop in America’s GDP.

    “U.S. Economy Shrinks at Record 32.9% Pace in Second Quarter”
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-30/u-s-economy-shrinks-at-record-32-9-pace-in-second-quarter?sref=RO0JQeZW

    Stimulus does not work. Indeed, it is disastrously counterproductive. What does work is creative destruction and new opportunity and growth, unimpeded by government.

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