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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Marty B
6 months ago

Useful summary. Thanks. Now how bout an article listing all the Pork and Green New Deal goodies that do nothing to assist with the COVID19 crisis that Nancy Pelosi buried in the Bill. By so doing, we can request Congress cease and desist such squandering of resources by citing specific agencies ( Kennedy Center, Planned Parenthood, PBS etc) and amounts gifted by agency when the next wave of aid starts to build. I urge each of us to query our senators and representatives as to why they voted for these unrelated line items.

6 months ago

Government should protect and defend the general welfare of its citizens. Nothing more. Beyond that, we enter socialism and loss of our liberties and freedom. The government that governs best is the one that governs least. Democrats still need to learn this and, from all appearances, are not. Nor will.

Glenn Lego
6 months ago

What about the provision that Pelosi wanted to give $25 million to The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts only to have that organization lay off the entire orchestra and several other employees and then give $5 million to the Democratic National Committee?

6 months ago

There’s a lot of illegals that have stolen social security numbers

Scott Berg
6 months ago

Here we go with that ” look what I did mentality ” I hate to say it but I will be very much surprised if the general” public “citizens” that is, ever see any of it, People are so soon to forget there was approximately 400 million dollars collected in the 3 weeks post 9/11 that was said to have gone to the red Cross nobody had a clue where it went so at the expense of being a historically informed pessimist we shall see, God bless US🇺🇸 all out here and those of you that are fighting this horrid… Read more »

6 months ago

Students get special assistance. Colleges can offer more financial aid, with federal backing ? The Tax Payers of America are already burdening the load of “prior” UNPAID Student Loans. Now this BS again? Many hard working Families are living from paycheck to paycheck..THEY should be given top priority! Also Companies wanting to cash in on this assistance to these Families should be “Heavily Fined”… How much pork is on this Bill? Or is this another Bill, oh just sign it we will read it later?

6 months ago

Please list all appropriations that are not directly assisting the virus situation. (Pork). i.e., Kennedy Center, etc.

6 months ago

Some companies are docking their employees wages in the amount of the stimulus checks. This should be illegal and the company execs should go to jail for doing this.

John Karkalis
6 months ago

There is a lot to digest here. It does have a sense of a “Marshall Plan” for Americans.
The earlier one, the one named for General of the Army, George C. Marshall, wasn’t perfect . It didn’t save all of Europe from Communism, but certainly helped with recovery for Western Europe. Likewise, this behemoth isn’t perfect, but SOMETHING had to be done fast.
How it will all workout? We shall see.
I salute our President and our Secretary of the Treasury, Mr Mnuchin for shepherding this through with dispatch.

6 months ago

In this bill did Pelosi make a provision for same day registration voting? Voter fraud will be rampant. Forget having any R’s or conservatives in office.

Connie Hummel
6 months ago

I would like to know what the Republicans and/or Democrats added on to the Relief bill before it got passed. I have heard Pelosi came roaring back into Washington DC with a lot of requests that were added on that had nothing to do with helping the people/country during this Coronavirus time! And a lot of them were allowed because this Relief bill needed to get passed!!

6 months ago

Did members of Congress receive a pay increase? Rumors say YES!

Ron Howard
6 months ago

As usual, the elder seniors who no longer work, and have low, fixed, incomes, below income tax requirements, who need assistance the most. are the forgotten citizens. Thousands of us, no longer working or able to, veterans, and other, who helped build and protect the country, who paid our taxes, but are not now “Workers, or Tax Payers” are completely ignored. We are still voters though.

6 months ago

This all sounds good and I’m sure many will benefit in the short term. But let’s look out 5 years….will we be better off with this approach or should we have simply hunkered down, practiced safe distancing, pushed for hydroxycholoquine treatment of the virus, publicly preached hand-washing and other defensive lifestyle adjustements and continued the economy with minimal government insertion? I mean, we accept 35,000 to 40,000 deaths per year on our highways, 35,000 to 60,000 deaths each year from the flu and 47,000 deaths per year from suicide along with hundreds of thousands of deaths per year from cardiovascular… Read more »

Stephen Russell
6 months ago

Need 2 open truck stops & rest stops for truckers nationwide. Lockdown extends to 4-30.
News to extend bill for future? minus Pelosi Junk pork in bill.

6 months ago

Bottom line is, it’s all our (the taxpayers) money! Our 1200/person now translates to over $6000+ per person plus interest. Enjoy!

6 months ago

No mention of ‘ballot harvesting’. When this bill was proposed, the word was that the dems wanted this practice legalized nationally and included in the monstrosity . This is one of the major factors in the dems flipping several districts in orange co California. This is where the dems miraculously ‘find’ enough votes to swing elections. Theresbeen an eerie silence on this. Hope im wrong.

6 months ago

Thank you for another well thought out bit of advice

Christopher Morse
6 months ago

This information is great but it does not tell us where to go to get all of these benefits for small businesses. List some sites that we can apply!!!!

Keith H
6 months ago

Just another pork filled goodie bag for the Criminals of the left. Will do nothing for the disease, but everything for the Commies on the left. More crap to get into our lives. Spend Spend Spend !!! The order of the day. Illegals are still crossing our border, no wall to stop them !!!! Destroy the economy is what the left is after. Get rid of Trump. Meanwhile Lindsey Graham is doing everything he can to flood our country with H1B, H2 and H5 visas from other countries to take our jobs !!! Nothing ever changes. You get the scraps… Read more »

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