Eco­nomic res­cue plan hits a ‘ wartime level’

What $ 2 tril­lion will do for families, busi­nesses, cor­po­ra­tions

USA TODAY International Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Mau­reen Groppe and Led­yard King

WASH­ING­TON – Se­nate lead­ers an­nounced Wed­nes­day that they reached agree­ment on a mas­sive stim­u­lus bill to help families and busi­nesses hurt by the coro­n­avirus epi­demic. The lan­guage was still be­ing final­ized on the roughly $ 2 tril­lion pack­age law­mak­ers hope to quickly pass and send to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. This is the third – and by far the most ex­pen­sive – pack­age Congress has put to­gether to ad­dress the dam­age from the pan­demic. “This is a wartime level of in­vest­ment into our na­tion,” Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R- Ky., said. Here are some of the ma­jor com­po­nents of the his­toric re­lief pack­age:

Help for families

❚ The bill would pro­vide di­rect pay­ments of up to $ 1,200 for most in­di­vid­u­als and $ 2,400 for most mar­ried cou­ples filing jointly, with an ex­tra $ 500 for each child.

❚ As­sis­tance would start to phase out for in­di­vid­u­als earn­ing more than $ 75,000 a year and for cou­ples with more than $ 150,000 in in­come.

❚ Un­em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance benefits would be ex­panded, in­creas­ing the max­i­mum benefit by $ 600 a week for up to four months. Benefits would be avail­able to work­ers who are part- time, self- em­ployed or part of the gig econ­omy. Peo­ple who are still un­em­ployed af­ter state benefits end could get an ad­di­tional 13 weeks of help.

❚ Food as­sis­tance pro­grams would get a boost, as would pro­grams to help low- in­come house­holds avoid evic­tion and a pro­gram to im­prove in­ter­net ac­cess in ru­ral ar­eas.

❚ Peo­ple could make with­drawals from qual­ified re­tire­ment ac­counts for coro­n­avirus- re­lated pur­poses without penalty.

❚ Stu­dents with fed­eral loans could sus­pend pay­ments un­til Oc­to­ber.

❚ Stu­dents re­ceiv­ing Pell grants who have to drop out be­cause of the out­break would not be pe­nal­ized.

Help for small busi­nesses

The bill would give small busi­nesses ac­cess to a nearly $ 350 bil­lion loan pro­gram to cover monthly ex­penses like pay­roll, rent and util­i­ties. The loans would not have to be re­paid if busi­nesses main­tained their work­force.

The eight weeks of as­sis­tance would be retroac­tive to Feb. 15, 2020, to help bring back work­ers who have al­ready been laid off.

Help for cor­po­ra­tions

The pack­age in­cludes a finan­cial life­line to the hard­est- hit in­dus­tries, in­clud­ing pas­sen­ger and cargo air­lines.

An­other pot of money would be avail­able to help other busi­nesses.

❚ Any com­pany re­ceiv­ing a govern­ment loan would be pro­hib­ited from buy­ing back stocks while get­ting as­sis­tance as well for an ad­di­tional year.

❚ Busi­nesses con­trolled by the pres­i­dent, vice pres­i­dent, mem­bers of Congress and heads of fed­eral agen­cies are not eligible for loans.

❚ Com­pa­nies that kept on work­ers de­spite a sig­nificant loss of rev­enue could get a tax credit. They could also de­fer pay­ing some So­cial Se­cu­rity taxes.

❚ The bill pro­vides other tax re­lief to busi­nesses by de­fer­ring tax pay­ments, in­creas­ing de­ductibil­ity for in­ter­est ex­penses and al­low­ing im­me­di­ate ex­pens­ing of qual­ified prop­erty im­prove­ments, es­pe­cially for the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try.

Help for health care providers

❚ Hos­pi­tals and med­i­cal cen­ters would get bil­lions to han­dle surg­ing caseloads.

❚ Hos­pi­tals treat­ing coro­n­avirus pa­tients would also get higher re­im­burse­ments form Medi­care.

❚ Across- the- board Medi­care cuts that were part of a pre­vi­ous deficit re­duc­tion agree­ment would be tem­po­rar­ily halted.

❚ Rules on us­ing and pay­ing for tele­health ser­vices would be eased.

❚ Fund­ing would in­crease for fed­eral agen­cies to speed work on ther­a­pies and a pos­si­ble coro­n­avirus vaccine, among other activities.

❚ When there is a vaccine, Medi­care beneficia­ries would not have to pay to re­ceive it.

Help for state, lo­cal gov­ern­ments

❚ The pack­age in­cludes $ 150 bil­lion to help state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments, which have had ma­jor unan­tic­i­pated ex­penses while los­ing rev­enue. States would get a min­i­mum amount, and other money would be al­lo­cated through a pop­u­la­tion- based for­mula.

❚ Dis­as­ter re­lief fund­ing that state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments can ac­cess as well as a pop­u­lar fund­ing pro­gram for lo­cal gov­ern­ments would also be boosted.

❚ Child care pro­grams would get a fund­ing boost to help meet emer­gency staffing needs so health care work­ers and other crit­i­cal work­ers will have child care.

❚ States, which have been post­pon­ing pri­maries, would get ad­di­tional money to make vot­ing safer such as ex­pand­ing early vot­ing and the abil­ity to vote by mail.

❚ Pub­lic tran­sit agen­cies, which have lost rid­er­ship, would get $ 25 bil­lion in as­sis­tance.

❚ Schools and col­leges could ac­cess nearly $ 31 bil­lion to con­tinue to teach stu­dents as schools are closed.

❚ State and lo­cal po­lice and fire de­part­ments could get help pay­ing for over­time and for med­i­cal items like personal pro­tec­tive equip­ment.

❚ The dead­line for states to meet Real ID re­quire­ments for en­hanced driver’s li­censes would be ex­tended a year, to no ear­lier than Oc­to­ber 2021.

Help for the arts

Mu­se­ums, li­braries and arts or­ga­ni­za­tions across the coun­try, which have been clos­ing be­cause of the pan­demic, could get a boost from grants to state arts and hu­man­i­ties or­ga­ni­za­tions.

❚ The John F. Kennedy Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts, which has been closed un­til May, would get $ 25 mil­lion so it can re­open its doors once the cri­sis is over.

❚ The Smith­so­nian In­sti­tu­tion would get $ 7.5 mil­lion to help with tele­work­ing, deep clean­ing and over­time for se­cu­rity, med­i­cal staff and zookeep­ers.

SOURCE USA TO­DAY re­port­ing by Led­yard King and Ni­cholas Wu JAVIER ZARRACINA/ USA TO­DAY

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.