Congress is getting close to a deal for a new round of COVID-19 relief, but, with that package attached to a larger, must-pass government spending deal, the negotiations are unlikely to finish up in time to hit the Friday night deadline to avert a government shutdown. That means that Congress will need to pass another short-term continuing resolution to keep the government open for long enough to finalize something that should have been done months ago.
As a reminder, the House passed the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion stimulus package, in May, and a revamped $2.2 trillion HEROES Act in October. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sat on it until now, with many people set to lose unemployment benefits on December 26.
We still don’t know the final details on the COVID-19 relief that’s expected to pass … sometime soon. The broad outlines of what’s expected continue to include $600 direct payments to individuals below some income threshold, $300 a week in added unemployment benefits, and a 16-week extension of unemployment eligibility. Another round of the problematic Paycheck Protection Program will be part of $300 billion in aid for business. (Disclosure: Kos Media received a Paycheck Protection Program loan.)
The package also includes “$25 billion to help struggling renters with their payments and provide food aid and farm subsidies, and a $10 billion bailout for the Postal Service,” the Associated Press reports. It doesn’t include desperately needed funding for state and local governments, although some money targeted to specific needs like education, transit, and vaccine distribution will reach state and local governments. Republicans did give up a demand for corporate immunity from liability for reckless behavior around coronavirus.
The bill is also likely to include a ridiculous, offensive $120 billion tax giveaway to the wealthy, allowing double-dipping wherein businesses that got PPP loans—a quarter of which went to the top 1% of recipients—can also deduct it from their taxes.
”Steven Rosenthal, a tax attorney and senior fellow at the nonprofit Tax Policy Center had calculated that the earlier version of the double-dip proposal would have amounted to a stealth break of $100 billion to $150 billion, skewed heavily toward the nation’s wealthiest business owners,” Michael Mechanic reports at Mother Jones. “Martin Sullivan, an expert in federal tax law and former staff economist for both the Treasury Department and Congress’ bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, estimated the cost, back of the napkin, at roughly $100 billion.”
Regular people will get just $600, plus $300 a week in extra unemployment if they can pry it loose from their states, to cover unimportant little needs like rent, food, and heat in winter.
And today’s winner for rank BS in coverage of this issue goes to the AP, for “The looming agreement follows efforts by a bipartisan group of rank-and-file lawmakers to find middle ground between a $2.4 trillion House bill and a $500 billion GOP measure fashioned by McConnell.”
If $900 billion sounds like middle ground between $2.4 trillion (that already a compromise from $3 trillion) and $500 billion, you might need to go back to grade school math class. Or just drop the insistence on pretending that the Republican Party is something other than cruel and ruthless.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.