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Updated 3/27/2020 at 4:54 p.m. ET: President Donald Trump signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill into law Friday afternoon, aimed at stabilizing the economy and American life amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
The legislation — the largest of its kind in U.S. history — includes direct payments to individuals, increased unemployment benefits, and bailouts for small business and corporations.
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An effort from Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) to force a roll call vote Friday failed; Trump called for Massie to be kicked out of the Republican party for purportedly trying to hold up the legislation.
Many reporting outlets focused on the bipartisan nature of the bill, and the uncommon unanmious vote that pushed it through the Senate. Voices on both sides took issue with certain elements of the bill. Some, particularly left-leaning voices, say the legislation gives Trump too much power; some right-leaning voices say the bill's unemployment benefits are too generous.
Other stories this week from AllSides: U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Surge to More Than 3 Million; How Coronavirus is Impacting the 2020 Election; and California, New York On Lockdown.
From the Blog: An exchange between Trump and the press last week incited sensationalist headlines and media bias from news outlets throughout the political spectrum. And as coronavirus continues to command attention, our friends at Living Room Conversations are exploring how to maintain human connection and emotional stability in the face of a global crisis.
Snippets from the Left
"The bill would be the third emergency coronavirus spending package Congress has advanced and the largest economic aid measure enacted in modern U.S. history. Congress has already approved an $8.3 billion bill for health agencies and a roughly $100 billion bill aimed at providing free coronavirus testing, paid leave for those affected, additional Medicaid funding and food assistance."
"Individuals making up to $75,000 a year would receive checks for $1,200. Couples making up to $150,000 would receive $2,400. An additional $500 would be given per child. The payments would decrease for those making more than $75,000, with an income cap of $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for couples.The initial Republican proposal would have provided less money to lower-income Americans, but the provision was removed from the current bill; anyone making $75,000 or less would be eligible for the $1,200 direct payment.""
"...according to a legislative draft, the new law would establish a $4.5 trillion corporate bailout fund overseen by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, with few substantive constraints. Some outlets are reporting this as a $500 billion fund, but $425 billion of that can be leveraged 10 times over by the Federal Reserve, resulting in a multi-trillion-dollar program."
"There is, in fact, an economic emergency right now — just not for the super rich or massive conglomerates. On Monday, the Federal Reserve announced essentially unlimited support for the banking sector and, for the first time, used its authority to directly finance corporate debt. Large corporations can get money, as Boeing CEO David Calhoun made clear on Tuesday when he said his company would “just look at all the other options, and we’ve got plenty of them,” if Congress were to demand an equity stake in the companies it assists. Bailouts will eventually be necessary, but Congress has plenty of time to craft serious programs designed to save industry, not merely people who own stock in industry. "
New York Times Editorial Board
"Four Republican senators...announced they had found a flaw in the economic stimulus legislation so grave that they would be forced to delay its passage. The proposed unemployment benefits, they said, were much too generous. Yes, that’s right: They worried the federal government was in danger of doing too much to help low-income workers whose jobs are being sacrificed to save lives."
"There is wide agreement among economists that unemployment benefits reduce the incentive to return to work. That’s why states replace only a portion of lost wages in normal times. But at the moment, staying home is exactly what’s needed to prevent the spread of the virus, and paying people who have lost jobs is what’s needed to limit the economic damage. And the extra benefits last four months. It’s an emergency stipend, not a retirement program."
Snippets from the Right
"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cheered the Senate's passage of the $2 trillion stimulus bill that's aimed at giving the nation's economy a boost amid the coronavirus pandemic. Shortly after the bill passed 96-0 Wednesday night, Pelosi released a statement regarding the "bipartisan legislation" and credited Senate Democrats for improving the original text written by Republicans."
"After calling the GOP's stimulus proposal "a non-starter," Pelosi said the final bill text brought together both sides the aisle. "This bipartisan legislation takes us a long way down the road in meeting the needs of the American people," she said. "While the compromise does not go as far as our Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act, thanks to the unity and insistence of Senate and House Democrats, the bill has moved a great deal closer to America's workers.""
"Biden's suggestion came after bipartisan lawmakers reached a tentative agreement on a $2 trillion emergency relief bill to combat economic downturn amid mass shutdowns of public services and businesses to halt the spread of the virus. His climate policy proposal, which adds that a "Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face," calls for $1.7 trillion in federal investments over 10 years."
"Biden brought up environmentally friendly investments in response to a question on which of his policy proposals he hopes will appeal to younger Americans. He also called for up to $10,000 in student loan cancellation for those economically affected by the coronavirus pandemic, building on Obamacare, and making state-run colleges and universities tuition-free. The Trump campaign criticized Biden for suggesting a "Green New Deal" amid the crisis."
National Review Editorial Board
"What is before Congress is not a stimulus bill. We have often opposed stimulus bills in the past, considering it a mistake for the federal government to borrow money to expand a depressed economy. At the moment, though, the government is not trying to expand the economy or even arrest its contraction. It is principally trying to enable the temporary shutdown of much of the economy with the least humanitarian damage."
"Congressional Democrats have not risen to this occasion. They saw an opportunity to advance goals on the environment, racial diversity, and Planned Parenthood funding that, whatever their other merits, do not belong in this bill. And they have been willing to slow down the process toward these ends. Some Republicans are also losing perspective, albeit less crassly. They fear that the expansion of unemployment insurance in the bill is too generous and will incentivize quitting or refusing to take work. Under normal circumstances, we would share this concern. But at the moment we should be more focused on helping the unemployed — especially since the rules of unemployment insurance discourage the gaming of the system, however imperfectly, and this expansion is temporary."
Snippets from the Center
"Underscoring the effort’s sheer magnitude, the bill finances a response with a price tag that equals half the size of the entire $4 trillion-plus annual federal budget. The $2.2 trillion estimate is the White House’s best guess. Insistently optimistic, President Donald Trump said of the greatest public health emergency in anyone’s lifetime, “I don’t think its going to end up being such a rough patch” and anticipated the economy soaring “like a rocket ship” when it’s over."
"The drive by leaders to speed the bill through the Senate was slowed as four conservative Republican senators from states whose economies are dominated by low-wage jobs demanded changes, saying the legislation as written might give workers like store clerks incentives to stay on unemployment instead of return to their jobs since they may earn more money if they’re laid off than if they’re working. They settled for a failed vote to modify the provision."
Analysis in Forbes
"So how does this work? Do I need to file anything to get my check? Technically, the checks are advances of refundable credits. Treasury will advance your check based on your most recently filed tax return (2018 or 2019 tax return). If you haven’t filed a tax return, the bill allows Treasury to use the information on your 2019 Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, Form RRB-1099, Social Security Equivalent Benefit Statement."
"This is a done deal, right? Mostly. It cleared a hurdle in the Senate on Wednesday night and is expected to pass in the House. The President, through Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, has expressed a desire to sign a relief bill quickly. So no changes? I didn’t say that. There could be additional guidance from the IRS."
"The Senate rejected an attempt by four Republican senators to change boosted unemployment benefits included in a mammoth coronavirus stimulus package. Senators voted 48-48 on an amendment that would cap unemployment benefits at 100 percent of an individual's salary before they were laid off. Sixty votes were required for the amendment to pass."
"The unemployment provision includes four months of bolstered unemployment benefits, including increasing the maximum unemployment benefit by $600 for four months. But the GOP senators argued that the agreement, which they've called a "drafting error," could prompt individuals who earn less while working compared to the unemployment benefits to quit their jobs or not return to work ... they warned that they would slow down the stimulus package unless they got their amendment vote. Under the Senate's rules, McConnell would need cooperation from every senator to speed up the stimulus package and pass it on Wednesday. "