Commentary / Coronavirus / COVID-19 Stimulus

Rescue Bill – What Matters, Where Rubber Meets Road

Forget big talk, big numbers, big politics. What exactly does the “2.2 trillion dollar” rescue bill do? How can we get access to needed relief? When will it arrive, helping pay bills? Here are solid answers, what matters most. This bill puts wind in our sails, but in the end – recovery will be on us.

Yes, the bill contains big money for “frontline health care” workers and equipment, test kits, masks, gloves, respirators, ventilators, and regular mentions veteran homes, hospitals, disaster relief funds for states and locals. What may matter as much is the aid offered to individuals and small businesses.

Having read every title, section and subsection, key things stand out. Once Congress “appropriates” money, it must be “apportioned” by OMB to departments, down to agencies, assistant secretaries, program managers, and procurement officers to let contracts. That takes time.

Good news is this law will accelerate “real-time research” on a vaccine – DOD already has six trials up, civilian agencies more. Government is working hand-in-glove with companies. It also supports “domestic manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals,” disinfectants, quarantine services, supercomputers, laboratories, and telehealth. It helps military service members, transit systems, food banks, educational institutions, farmers, and homeless shelters.

That said, rubber meets the road with individuals and small businesses, which employ 80 percent of America. Consumers and small employers drive the economy. That is why relief to them – is critical.

The “CARES” Act – clever acronym for “Coronavirus Aid, and Economic Security Act” – starts here: Many individuals will “within three weeks,” according to Treasury, receive a check “in their bank account.” Adults who earn less than $75,000 should get a $1200 payment, joint filers less than $150,000 should get $2400, with gradual reductions up to $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for joint filers.

Provisos: Adults need no regular income and can be SSI beneficiaries. They must have a social security number, so no illegal aliens. If eligible, checks should arrive by end of month. (Title II, Section 2201).

On retirement accounts, the law waives “10 percent early withdrawal penalty” for “distributions up to $100,000 from qualified retirement accounts” after January 1, 2020 – so is retroactive. The waiver requires only a corona-related “adverse financial consequence,” for example quarantine, layoff, childcare costs or reduced hours. (Section 2200). In short, if you need money –– odds are with you.

In a nod to AMAC, the law offers “temporary relief of required minimum distribution rules” for various “contribution plans and IRAs” during 2020, in effect allowing seniors to avoid forced sales that forfeit savings in a down market. (Section 2300).

Under Section D, health saving accounts (HSAs) with high deductibles can cover “telehealth services” before reaching that deductible. (Section 3701). HSAs also can buy over-the-counter medical products (Section 7202), virus-related home “telecare” (Sections 3703-08), and incentivize telecare by “boosting payments for hospital, physician, nursing home, and home health.” (Section 3709).

For seniors, a “Medicare add-on” for inpatient hospital costs and “post-acute care,” including equipment at home, will be useful. Important is elimination of Medicare Part B “cost-sharing” and “allowing up to 3-month fills and refills of covered Medicare Part D drugs.” (Sections 3710-14).

As coronavirus tests become available, the law assures “uninsured individuals” receive the test “with no added cost-sharing” under state Medicaid programs – same under Medicare Part B. (Sections 3716-17). On the flip side, “hospitals, especially those in rural and frontier areas” get “reliable and stable cash flow” (Section 3719), plus enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid (Sections 3801-3841).

Small measures add up. One allows an added $300 deduction for contributions to “churches and charitable organizations” (Section 2400), others lift “limitations on deductions” for “itemizing” and building a “food inventory” (Section 2205). Providers of credit are encouraged to forebear (Section 4021), while a “foreclosure moratorium,” “forbearance of residential mortgage loan payments” for 90 days, and “moratorium on eviction filings” for 120 days are mandated. (Sections 4022-24).

The law focuses on small employers. SBA loans are available – ask at your local bank – for those with less than 500 employees, forgiveness if employees are not laid off. In Title 4, Sections 4001 et seq., emergency relief of all kinds is offered to businesses large and small. Tens of billions are directed to transportation, banks and specific sectors (Sections 1101-1114, 2301-08, 4001-4114).

Title II, Section C offers “a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by employers,” if “operations are fully or partially suspended” – think restaurants, retailers, manufacturers, services – or “gross receipts declined by more than 50 percent” compared to same quarter last year. (Section 2301)

Provisions allow “delay of payment of employer payroll taxes” and “modifications for net operating losses,” relaxing limitations on a small company “losses.” Importantly, deductions apply to “pass-through businesses and sole proprietors” – allowing them to recoup losses for keeping people employed.

Other tax modifications include tax-based increases in liquidity, write-offs, suspended depreciation timetables, and tax-free sanitizer expenses – for small businesses. (Sections 2302-2308). Emphasis is also placed on telehealth, rural access, reducing liability and increasing flexibility for healthcare workers.

Odds and ends: Federal nutrition requirements are waived for seniors expanding their food options, while HHS can “extend older adults’ participation in community service projects … to facilitate their continued employment.” (Section 3223). In this way, seniors won modest accommodations.

Students get special assistance. Colleges can offer more financial aid, with federal backing. “Matching requirements” are waived (Section 3503), “SEOG funds” boosted. “Federal work-study” payments can be made if students are unable to work (Section 3505). At the same time, grant limits are raised, and – with foresight – academic performance decoupled from grant eligibility for one term. (Sections 3506-08).

Looking ahead, small employers are relieved of burdens, as unemployment insurance ramps up. Unemployment insurance is expanded to covers “gig” and contract workers. In short, this bill is an adrenalin boost for consumers, workers, small businesses, students, and hard-hit sectors, plus those battling the virus on the front lines. The goal: Get us over the hump, as fast and efficiently as possible.
Does the bill assure our economy “roars back?” No, that is on us. Average Americans must dig in, work hard, help each other get up, get by, and get on with being what we are – resilient. Big talk, numbers and politics are not where rubber meets the road. We meet the road – make our future – as individuals, families, small businesses, and never-say-never Americans. The bill is a nice gust, but the rudder ours.

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Juanita Braun
1 year ago

Did this Bill also sneak in a pay raise for Congress?

1 year ago

I was amused by the line in the Bill that says, “DOT Inspector General –$5 million for the DOT Inspector General to provide oversight and ensure funds provided are used for lawful purposes.” “TO ENSURE FUNDS PROVIDED ARE USED FOR LAWFUL PURPOSES” I guess that we now know the price for keeping a portion of the government honest…$5 million.

Mellie Swaney
1 year ago

my wife and I receive less than fifty thousand a year in SS and retirement pay, and we haven’t filed any income tax in several years. how can we receive 1200 doller each.

1 year ago

So many of these things will help people for sure. Not all and not as much as may be needed, but help nonetheless. These bills, without the PORK, all would be a bit better and be a bit faster.

As we listen to TV and Radio News and Talk shows, we hear the numbers over and over again. Great, but… But one thing I never hear is a comparison of people who have had the virus and recovered, and those that have had real complications or died from the virus, and just how many of those in each category had been vaccinated for the standard flu virus every year, or for at least the last two years. I just wonder, if by chance, keeping up to date on our flu vaccination each year helped in any way reduce the effect of this new Corona Virus on humans.

1 year ago

I will be surprise if the Nancy group has not figured a way to get the biggest part of the money.They will probley use it to have a party or give it to a country that hats us.The democrats are not a part of this country they are our enemies and we need to get them out.

Camille Curd
1 year ago

I am so tired of hearing fake-news rag on the president because he wants to get the economy back up & running in a timely manner with those Americans who fall into low stats for bad outcomes from this virus getting back in the workforce as soon as possible. Hello??? How many elderly people with underlying chronic health conditions do y’all know who still work????

1 year ago

Some are “concerned” that some poor slob getting laid off will get more in unemployment than he would have gotten had he not been laid off. I’m “concerned that some candy assed artist will get a “grant” of several thousands to piss in a jar and put a cross in it and call it “art”!

E. Fletcher
1 year ago

Having worked in medical, I’ve been witness to some problems with Chinese made medications. I’ve boycotted any medications produced in China for about 12 years. I just tell the pharmacist to put a note in the computer that I will not accept anything from China. We all need to boycott all medications from China. I use ones made in India, since there doesn’t seem to be any from the US. China is responsible for contaminated medications and pet food. This is the second virus they have released to the world. NOW, they are threatening to cut off the medicines that they have control over. Thanks for the favor. Keep your poison. Bring our pharmaceutical manufacturers back home. MAGA.

Danny A.
1 year ago

My wife is a self employed Travel Advisors and her business has come to a scratching halt. Is she entitled to any payments?

John A. Fallon
1 year ago

President Trump needs line item veto powers to stop Pelousys pork add ons.

Albert Bryson
1 year ago

Thanks for the information. It just confirm that I will not be aided by so called $1500 in the so called tax refund. I made between $75,000 and $99,00 in income for 2018. I think that provision very bad. They should have given every adult $1500 with any limits regarding income from prior years.

Allison Skibba
1 year ago

Thank you for the relief, Pres. Trump! I’m glad you are our president! God bless you and keep you in His care and wisdom in the days ahead!

Ed J
1 year ago

Most Americans with 401K, IRAs or other pension plans invested in the stock market have seen quantum dips in the value of their investment portfolios with the steep drop in the market value of stocks. Recovery of this lost value will take years to restore.

In the meantime, I would hope that the CARES Act does not result in rampant inflation over the next few years. It is well known that when governments start printing lots of money, the value of that money decreases, hence inflation. If any significant inflation occurs in the coming years, the purchase power of what is left in our investment portfolios will erode further and represent a permanent loss to those of us who “saved” for our future needs.

When I was in high school, you could mail a first-class letter for 4¢. Today, it costs 55¢ or almost 14 times as much. Had I set aside $1.00 in high school for my retirement years, today that dollar would be equivalent in purchase power to only a little over 7¢. There is a very good chance that our retirement plans will be significantly compromised by the effects of inflation, leaving us all poorer than we otherwise would be.

John Karkalis
1 year ago
Reply to  Ed J

I too look with nostalgia back to the 3 cent Washington 1st class stamp.
Those were the days! my friend.
Ed, you are well versed here. Who is going to buy up all this debt we are generating?

Kevin Walsh
1 year ago

Yes! We need a full accounting of how much of the Pelosi/Democrat pork party we and our families are now going to be forced to pay. How many more ventilators, PPEs, funds for the sick and unemployed would be available for “emergency” use. Also, Pelosi and Schumer are looking for another bill to help us. That is their pet groups and projects. They add a trillion for the Kennedy Arts Center, NPR and PBS ( who won’t even cover the White briefings for the Public). I’ m sure more attempts to put Planned Parenthood and voter fraud opens into the next bill will be acquiesed to by the Republicans if we don’t hold them accountable. We can’t let them take advantage of this crisis.

Peter K
1 year ago

If we are honest, which in and of itself is almost joke in today’s “me first and only me” America, we would demand that everyone be systematically tested and those that test positive be quarantined. The=ose that tested negative could go about their lives and the economy wouldn’t be as negatively impacted as it is and will continue to be for several more months.

Why are we standing by doing nothing but trying to contain a virus that will harm millions fewer people than annual influenza that occurs every single year? Because WE are ill-prepared to do so. WIth the cost cuts to our healthcare system propagated primarily by insurance companies and bureaucrats over the past 10-15 years we have had to rely heavily on China to provide for many of OUR needs. Is that smart? It is if your goal is to profit from bad government decisions.

1 year ago

Cannot believe the “pork” that needs to be rooted out of that Bill….Esp. the $20 + million to the Smithsonian, which is a Leftist organization with that money going directly into the Bummers pocket. Dirty Laundry needs to be dumped. with the rest of “her” pet projects. No reason for those to be in that bill only to line their pockets and not help any GOOD causes.

1 year ago

Okay, we’re getting these stimulus check’s and they are coming out of our 2020 tax returns as tax credits, similar to what was done in the past…Right? My question is this, once the tax credit is essentially paid back to the government in the form of taxes, will the money be paid down towards the deficit or will the government find some other way to keep the money and all we’ve done is increase our debt by over two trillion dollars?

1 year ago

The demorats have said before the virus hit China they wanted to find a way to destroy the economy and thereby hurt Trump in the election. First the Russian hoax, next the impeachment lie and now the virus. Coincidence?

1 year ago

Where can we find a list of what the Dems asked for in this bill? I have tried to research this. My feeling is that we pay these representatives to make decisions for this great land of our but we never hear what is in these bills. Just a simple list please!!!!!!!!!

1 year ago

How do we request?

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