DEMOCRATS HOLDING UP STIMULUS MONEY

The US Senate is still at odds over its multitrillion-dollar bill meant to help Americans, small businesses, and corporations deal with the economic fallout from Covid-19. Senate Democrats holding up the stimulus money bill on Sunday, wanting more limits on bailouts to corporations and more extensive measures expanding the safety net for individuals.

The bill is known as the “phase three” bill in Congress’s coronavirus response. The phase one bill, signed on March 6, offered $8.3 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccine development, and other public health measures. The phase two bill, signed on March 18, cost on the order of $104 billion, expanded paid sick leave for a subset of workers, offered free coronavirus testing to Americans, and gave modest boosts to unemployment insurance and food stamps.

The “phase three” bill, also called the CARES (“Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security”) Act, is more on the order of $1.8 trillion, or 18 times the last bill. It’s a sprawling stimulus measure including roughly $300 billion in direct cash checks to American households, $350 billion in loans to small businesses to cover interruption in business, and $500 billion in other relief to businesses, largely through loan guarantees.

The bill also dramatically expands unemployment insurance. Independent contractors and the self-employed, typically not eligible for unemployment insurance, will be temporarily eligible for special “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance”; the federal government will take on a greater share of states’ unemployment payments; “work-sharing” programs where unemployment insurance pays companies to reduce workers’ hours rather than lay them off are expanded; and unemployment checks are increased by $600 a week across the board, a huge spike given the median weekly pay in the US is $936.

However, the bill is not on President Trump’s desk for signing yet. There are still a number of sticking points for Senate Democrats holding up the stimulus money because because they blocked the bill on Sunday. Here are the problems Democrats still have with the measure, per leaked talking points:

1) Not enough protections on $500 billion for businesses

The bill’s $500 billion in business support includes $425 billion in loan guarantees, $50 billion for airlines, $8 billion for cargo air companies, and $17 billion for firms “critical to national security.” The fund is overseen by the Treasury Department and Secretary Steven Mnuchin has wide latitude over how to use it.

While there is language meant to protect workers and prevent the money from being used on giveaways to investors, such as stock buybacks, Democrats think that language is far too weak; Mnuchin himself can waive it in some cases. “We’re gonna give $500 billion in basically a slush fund to help industries controlled by Mnuchin with very little transparency? Is that what we ought to be doing?” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) asked Politico.

Add to this the fact that on Sunday, Trump specifically refused to rule out offering assistance to his own companies (“let’s just see what happens”), and you have Democrats worried not just about a corporate bailout but about potential corruption by a president they already voted to impeach.

2) No money to people who don’t earn enough to file taxes

The latest version of the Senate bill offers its full cash benefits — $1,200 per adult tax filer, $500 per child — to even the poorest Americans, correcting a big problem with the first GOP draft of the bill that left out low-income people entirely. But you need to have filed taxes for 2018 or 2019 to get the benefit, which leaves out millions of Americans who do not typically need to file.

Nonfilers typically either rely on mostly nontaxable income — like Social Security retirement or disability benefits or retirement income from a Roth account — or do not have enough money to owe taxes. Either way, they tend to be among the most economically vulnerable people in the country.

Democrats want to use tools the federal government has to get cash directly to those people without requiring them to fill out unnecessary paperwork.

3) Not enough state aid, SNAP money, health money

The Democratic talking points note that the bill doesn’t do anything to strengthen the food stamp program — one of the most effective economic stabilizers we have — or to provide cash to state and local governments that, unlike the federal government, operate on balanced budget constraints and so are likely to raise taxes or cut spending as the crisis goes on. Democrats also want funding for uninsured people who fall sick during this crisis.

4) No protections against eviction, foreclosure

The Trump administration has already taken actions to prevent foreclosures of mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration or Fannie May/Freddie Mac. But that hardly covers all homeowners and doesn’t do much for renters. Democrats objected that the Senate bill has “no specific provisions to protect individuals from eviction, foreclosure, or forbearance.”

5) No student loan forgiveness

Democrats, up to and including presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, are demanding at least $10,000 in federal student loan forgiveness per student as part of the package. Trump has suspended payments on student loan payments for the next 60 days and frozen interest, but he has stopped short of forgiving the underlying debt.

DAWG SAYS: IT APPEARS THE DEMOCRATS HOLDING UP THE STIMULUS MONEY ARE NOT SIMPLY CONCERNED ABOUT HELPING THE JOB LOSERS, THEY WANT THEIR LONG-TERM AGENDA ITEMS ALSO. IT IS NOT ABOUT HELPING PEOPLE IT IS ABOUT THEIR PETTINESS. TIME LIKE THIS THESE THINGS SHOULD BE SET ASIDE.

RAIDERS PASSED ON BRADY

RAIDERS PASSED ON BRADY AFTER

LOOKING AT GAME FILM

OF LAST TWO YEARS

The Las Vegas Raiders were considered one of the frontrunners to sign Tom Brady in free agency, so it came as somewhat as a surprise that they didn’t extend an official offer to the six-time Super Bowl champion.

That doesn’t mean they weren’t interested, however.

A new report from Vic Tafur of The Athletic states the Raiders considered Brady as a potential replacement for current QB Derek Carr. They just couldn’t bring themselves to offer the 42-year-old a Buccaneers-like contract after watching his recent game film.

“The Raiders were indeed sniffing around Brady as late as this week,” Tafur writes. “And while it is true they never made him an offer, some ballpark numbers were made known to him at some point. The Raiders weren’t going to go as high as the guaranteed $25 million per year for two years that the Bucs gave the 42-year-old quarterback — the game film the last two years just didn’t warrant that in the Raiders’ minds.”

Instead, Las Vegas went with ex-Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota and Brady took his talents to Tampa Bay.

Tafur goes on to note the Raiders “never got that nod from Brady that they were a serious finalist,” so this seems like it was a mutual “thanks, but no thanks” situation.

Nonetheless, Brady seems pretty happy about his decision to join the Buccaneers on a two-year deal.

WHEN YOU REALLY NEED TIME OFF

A South Carolina man, Who really needed time off, is facing charges after authorities say he lied about having the new coronavirus, causing a business to shut down and creating panic in a school system.

Jeffrey Travis Long, 31, of Inman, was arrested Thursday and charged with breach of peace and forgery, Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said during a news conference.

The sheriff said Long worked at Sitel Corporation, a call center in Spartanburg County. According to an incident report, Long showed his employer a forged doctor’s excuse from a VA hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, purportedly showing he had tested positive for COVID-19.

That prompted Sitel to shut down its facility for several days for sanitizing. According to authorities, Long also visited a school his children attend, causing officials there to worry that other children and families had been exposed.

“I don’t know the dollar number it cost to disinfect their whole entire building, but it was a large number,” Wright said. “It wasn’t a hundred bucks. It was more than that.”

Hospital officials told investigators they had not seen Long within the previous two weeks, and his note did not have an official stamp from the facility, Wright said. According to Inman Police Chief Keith Tucker, the hospital Long claimed to have seen him was not even conducting COVID-19 tests at the time.

Authorities said Long was arrested and booked into the Spartanburg County Detention Center. It wasn’t known if he had an attorney, and arrest warrants did not list a phone number.

“It seems to me like the fella just wanted a two-week, paid vacation,” Wright said. “You can’t do this to people.”

As of Friday, South Carolina had reported a total of 125 COVID-19 cases across the state, with two new deaths, bringing the statewide total to three. According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control, both of the patients were elderly and had underlying health conditions.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of victims recover.

DAWG SAYS: WHEN YOU REALLY NEED SOME DOWN TIME I GUESS, MAYBE THE BASS WERE BITING.

A BAD IDEA

A mother sued Las Cruces, N.M., its Police Department and school resource Officer Francisco Estrada, claiming Estrada had a bad idea and shot his pistol at a target on the wall of his office, knowing the principal’s office was on the other side, and the bullet missed her son’s ear by inches, terrifying him and costing him his hearing in that ear.

The Las Cruces School Resource officer has been criminally cited for accidentally firing his gun.

Police say Francisco Estradas’ gun went off in his office at Picacho Middle School. No one else was in the office at the time, and no one was hit. It’s not yet known why the gun fired, but Estrada is charged with a misdemeanor of improper use of a firearm.

He’s been with LCPD for eight years, including four as a school resource officer.

SEE LAW SUIT FILING HERE: