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Here's what you can expect to get from the government coronavirus relief

Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN

Updated 1:35 AM ET, Fri March 20, 2020

(CNN)We're still at the front end of what government will do to help the people through what could either be a recession or a full-on depression caused by the near-complete economic hiatus everyone hopes will slow or stop the spread of Covid-19.

Lawmakers have already passed two bills to a deal with the coronavirus outbreak. They're now at work on a much larger third stimulus. On Thursday, Senate Republicans unveiled a $1 trillion proposal.

Here's a look at what lawmakers have done so far and what we know about what is under discussion for additional relief.
What's already passed

March 4 -- Vaccine research, aid to state governments. House approves an $8.3 billion bill to drastically ramp up vaccine research, give funding to state health officials, beef up prevention programs and more. (The proposal was several times larger than the original White House request).

March 18 -- Sick leave, family leave. Senate approves a $104 billion bill that would give direct help to many Americans, including:
2-week paid sick leave for ill or quarantined workers

Who gets it? Not everyone. Only people being tested or treated for coronavirus or have been diagnosed with it. Also eligible would be those who have been told by a doctor or government official to stay home because of exposure or symptoms.

What does it pay? Payments will be capped at $511 a day, roughly what someone making $133,000 earns annually.

Who pays for it? Employers to begin with, but they can then recoup the cost with a federal tax credit. Note: This was originally going to be a more generous benefit for workers, but Republicans in the Senate balked at the effect on businesses.

2-week paid sick leave for other workers
Who gets it? Workers with family members affected by coronavirus and those whose children's schools have closed.

What does it pay? These workers will receive up to two-thirds of their pay, though that benefit is limited to $200 a day. That would cover two-thirds of the typical daily wage of someone earning up to about $75,000 annually.

Who pays for it? The same federal tax credit, though employers will have to pay out the benefit up front.

Paid family leave
Who gets it? Those whose children's schools have closed. The number of people affected by school closures will run into many millions. Note: This benefit was originally open to those who were tested, diagnosed, being treated or quarantined for coronavirus or caring for an affected family member.

What does it pay? People who can't work would still receive up to two-thirds of their pay, though that benefit is limited to $200 a day, which is about two-thirds of the typical daily wage of someone earning up to about $75,000.

How long does it last? This benefit lasts up to a total of 12 weeks, including two weeks of sick leave. Note that many schools could be closed through the end of the year.

Who pays for it? Again, businesses on the front end. But they'd be reimbursed through federal tax credits.

Here's the fine print

Who's cut out? Employers could exclude health care workers and emergency responders from either paid leave provision, amid fears of staffing shortages among medical providers.

What if employers can't pay? Most of the 35 million American workers at small businesses don't currently get paid family leave. Small businesses -- fewer than 50 employees -- can apply for financial hardship waivers from the leave provisions affecting workers whose children are out of school.

What about large employers? Companies with more than 500 employees are exempt. But they usually already provide some pared back level of paid leave.

So who else could this actually help? The leave provisions also benefit part-timers, the self-employed and those in the gig economy, who typically don't have paid sick or family leave.

Free testing, food stamps, Medicaid -- The bill also includes free coronavirus testing for all Americans, additional funding for Medicaid and more flexibility for states to provide SNAP benefits, or food stamps. It is also temporarily lifting the requirement that certain adults without dependent children work in order to receive food stamps for more than three months.

What's still on the table: Rebate checks and more

What's being negotiated now is a massive $1 trillion-plus stimulus bill. It seems like something will pass. We just don't know what it will be yet. Here's more on the proposals, the most concrete of which came from Senate Republicans Thursday evening.

$1,000 checks -- The Trump administration, following the lead of Sen. Mitt Romney and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, wants to send out one or more $1,000 checks directly to Americans. It is not yet clear if there will be limits on who gets these checks. A Senate proposal suggests up to $1,200 for a person and $2,400 for a couple.

$3,000 for a family of four -- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that under a White House idea, a family of four could get up to $3,000 when payments for two adults and smaller payments for children are combined.

There's precedent for these types of direct payments during the George W. Bush administration -- in 2001 and during the Great Recession in 2008.

Senate GOP would give slightly bigger checks to far fewer Americans -- But Senate Republicans would rather give money to small businesses than individuals. They envision giving stimulus checks to individuals making $75,000 or less.

Bailouts for airlines, hotel, travel industries -- Airlines have asked for $50 billion and Trump has expressed a willingness to help them and other travel-related industries. The Senate proposal would give airlines and other affected industries $200 billion in loans.

Conditions for aid? Government equity stakes? -- On Thursday, Trump expressed interest in the US government taking ownership stakes in companies that had engaged in stock buybacks and other schemes. The government did not take ownership stakes in US banks or auto companies when it bailed them out a decade ago. Trump's endorsement is an off-brand take for Republicans, so it'll be interesting to see if it gains steam.

Aid for small businesses -- It's the small and neighborhood businesses, along with the travel industry, that might be hit hardest by the slowdown. The Senate proposal would give $300 billion in bridge loans to them.

Who is writing this bill? It's clear that Senate Republicans, forced to "gag" and allow the paid family leave proposal to pass, are taking a more active approach in shaping this bill. Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer have complained they are being cut out of the process.

While Republicans are writing the proposal, Democrats have their own ideas. Schumer described a massive ramping up of help for the unemployed. "A thousand dollars goes by pretty quickly if you're unemployed. In contrast, expanded unemployment insurance -- beefed-up unemployment insurance -- covers you for a much longer time and would provide a much bigger safety net," he said on the Senate floor.

It could be hard for Congress to physically vote on anything. Several members have tested positive for Covid-19 and there is a push for something unprecedented in US history: remote voting.

White House action
The Trump administration has a lot of power to help affected Americans.

Late penalties will be waived for most tax filers. HUD will halt some foreclosures.

What's going on in states

Emergency workers: Grocery clerks -- In Minnesota, grocery store workers have been classified as essential employees and granted free childcare.

Banning foreclosures -- California's governor is allowing local governments to temporarily halt foreclosures related to coronavirus.

Unemployment benefits -- Some states are waiving one-week waiting periods and relaxing certain rules to make it easier for their newly jobless residents to access these funds.

CNN's Tami Luhby contributed to this report.


Lee Fang @lhfang:Wall Street is pressuring key healthcare firms to hike prices over the coronavirus


They hate people.

'Hands not touching hands': Back Bay residents singing from windows to lift spirits

Boston Strong! lol

BOSTON (WHDH) - Some residents in a number of Boston neighborhoods have taken to serenading each other from their windows as a way to lift spirits during these uncertain times.

Over the past four days, as people have begun self-isolating due to coronavirus concerns, Mike DiCarlo has been belting out some altered lyrics to the beloved Boston ballad, Sweet Caroline.

“Hands, not touching hands, not reaching out, not touching me, not touching you,” fills the street below his second-story Beacon Street brownstone as crowds of people –standing six feet apart — sing along.

“It is a real morale booster,” DiCarlo said, hanging out of his window. “If I can boost morale with my terrible singing voice, I figured, why not do it?”


Dr. Peniel E. Joseph @PenielJoseph via @NYTimes :This is why we need a guaranteed income, healthcare


Robert Reich @RBReich: Just so we're all clear: In the middle of a global pandemic,a sitting senator


We can do this people!!

Wendell Potter@wendellpotter: While the impending economic devastation from COVID-19 is obvious



Bernie Sanders @SenSanders: Let's be clear--any rescue of the airlines must put workers first.



Robert Reich @RBReich: The biggest U.S. airlines spent 96% of free cash flow over the last decade



by Alan Hirsch ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 7, 2020

The noted law historian, author of Impeaching the President, examines the handful of seriously problematic presidential elections in American history and what the Constitution elucidates about the process of undoing such an event—namely, nothing.

Like many historians and political analysts, Hirsch believes the Electoral College is direly flawed and should be abolished.

In his latest book, he begins with an overview of the presidential election process, set out in Article II of the Constitution, which was soon to be revealed by Alexander Hamilton as a “defect.” In the election of 1800, between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, each received the same votes, and the crisis resulted in the 12th Amendment, creating a distinct ballot for president and vice president.

However, in 1824, the race between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson resulted in a tie and had to be brokered by the House of Representatives, as per the Constitution. It came down to the wheedling of charismatic Speaker of the House Henry Clay to throw his support behind Adams—perhaps in return for his appointing him secretary of state, the so-called “corrupt bargain.”

In the 1876 election, Samuel Tilden received 250,000 more votes than Rutherford B. Hayes, yet three states were “too close to call” (South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana)—an eerie similarity to the future 2000 nail-biter between Al Gore and George W. Bush, which came down to one state, Florida, and was thrown to the courts for a decision.

Hirsch quotes election law expert Edward Foley: “the Hayes-Tilden dispute exposed structural frailties in the nation’s constitutional order that…were unchanged in 1876 and remain unchanged today”—decidedly unnerving news as we approach the 2020 election. In the concluding chapters, the author delineates the “fraud and chaos” rampant in the EC and argues for a constitutional amendment for handling future crises.

A highly relevant study featuring much food for thought and prospects for change.


Juan Cole: Why Burning Fossil Fuels is to Today's Pandemics as Fleas were to the Black Death

Mar 15, 2020

A heated-up earth is one where pandemic diseases will thrive.

Sheri Fink at the NYT reports that Center for Disease Control scientific modeler Matthew Biggerstaff estimated in a conference call that the coronavirus pandemic could last for many months or as long as a year and could infect half to two-thirds of the population of the United States. Between 200,000 and 1.7 million people could die.

The Trump administration could have avoided this prospect by swinging into action with testing kits, tracking cases, and selective isolation practices months ago. Instead, Trump did nothing, and indeed, tried to deny the severity of the threat. He has still been lying about it this week, worried about how the outbreak will affect the stock market or the economy or, apparently, his image. But his weird insouciance and clear cluelessness had the opposite effect of the one he was going for, tanking the market. It wouldn’t have been necessary to close down so many things and harm the economy so deeply if steps had been taken early on.

There is an exact analogy between Trump’s treatment of Covid-19 and his treatment of the climate emergency. In both cases, he and his surrogates attacked the science and took pride in giving the finger to reality. Trump actually promotes coal and petroleum, the dirtiest fossil fuels, as though he is impatient to see the lower floors of his Trump Tower in Manhattan under water. Likewise, he takes pride in holding infectious rallies and shaking hands. Last weekend, he met with another Covid-19 and Climate Emergency denialist, Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, whose government spokesman was along for the trip and was a carrier of Covid-19. So Trump and the Mar-a-Lago gang were exposed because of being damn fools.


Support the Green New Deal

The Green New Deal

The Green New Deal will convert the old, gray economy into a new, sustainable economy that is environmentally sound, economically viable and socially responsible. It seeks to solve the climate crisis by combining quick action to get to net- zero greenhouse gas emissions and 100% renewable energy by 2030 along with an “Economic Bill of Rights” – the right to single-payer healthcare, a guaranteed job at a living wage, affordable housing and free college education.

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