Tues 3/17: In an emergency, the first lifeboat seats go to the wealthy…Call your legislators!

Image – Last Photo of RMS Titanic, Wikimedia Commons. Who survived, who didn’t.
Quote – Crisis and Terror in the Age of Anxiety: 9/11, the Global Financial Crisis …By Luke Howie, Perri Campbell

Action #1 – If you haven’t called on HR 6201 yet, do so now.

HR 6201 is the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act”, which has just passed the House. Click here for details and how to call your senators. 

Action #2 – Make sure recovery money goes into the right pockets.

Boss tweet
“Boss Tweet” comic, original by Thomas Nast 

One of the first concrete suggestions of monetary relief from the White House was, of course, for the wealthyon Tuesday  Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin said that individuals will be able to defer up to $1 million in tax payments to the IRS for 90 days in light of the coronavirus outbreak. The $1 million threshold was chosen to take into account the pass-through businesses which benefits the wealthiest Americans (including our president) who have already benefited mightily from the 2017 tax scam. He also stated that corporations would be able to defer up to $10 million in tax payments.

Now for the rest of of usWe must take action beyond the benefits of HR 6201 – the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” and none of them should involve giving money to rich people.

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep/Senator [__] to propose legislation that incorporates the following:

  • Reps Tim Ryan and Ro Khanna’s “Emergency Money to the People“,
  • Using the Danish Model, where the government covers 75% of pay to stem mass firings or layoffs,
  • freezes on cutoffs of critical utilities including electricity and water,
  • emergency relief from loan payments, foreclosures and evictions,
  • emergency unemployment payments to people who’ve had to leave their jobs to take care of children, the sick and the elderly.

Contact
Rep. Julia Brownley: email(CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal:
email.(CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

Deeper dive

18% of US adults have already lost their jobs or had their hours cut. For households with incomes less than $50,000, the numbers rises to 25%. Economist are in agreement that the severe economic threat posed by the coronavirus, should spur Congress to authorize cash payments to every adult and child in the United States quickly. “Prominent economists are saying the crisis is faster-moving and more alarming than the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the crisis it sparked in 2008. That crisis needed an immediate stimulus, and even the roughly $1 trillion total appropriated in 2008-2009 was not enough.” (Vox)

Hoping to put a rosy GOP bandage on the president’s 8-week re-election-over-lives delay, Senators Mitt Romney and Tom Cotton have proposed sending every adult American a monthly check for $1000 and some economists agree that recipients shouldn’t be means-tested. But the GOP has no problem means-testing the poor to get the smallest of benefits, so the optics of any money going to the wealthy, who’ve already profited off Trump’s tax cut, are bad. 

It’s not just one thing that tips over a financial boat…

A check in the mail is just the beginning. A thousand dollars won’t cover rent on a studio apartment in CA, much less cover food, gas or health insurance for a newly unemployed person. Beyond a check, we need employers to keep their employees on the payroll, make sure everyone has access to critical utilities and to freeze factors that can lead to homelessness and bankruptcies.

  • “YES” on Emergency cash:
    • Sen. Sherrod Brown wants to give everyone with income under $100,000 a check but we like this more specific plan – “Emergency Money to the People” from Reps. Tim Ryan and  Ro Khanna: Give at least $1000 to people earning up to $100,000, more than 200 million Americans, quickly helping to stabilize families at risk in this crisis and boost the economy. This proposal would send an additional EITC (Earned Incom Tax Credit) to all 2019 recipients, plus a $1,000 boost for the lowest-income households. It would expand eligibility to more in the middle class, including individuals earning up to $50,000 without children and couples earning up to $100,000 with children. And it would deliver half of the benefits now, followed by quarterly payments, making the stimulus both immediate and lasting. Three in four Americans would benefit, and all Americans in the bottom 60% of the income spectrum would receive support. Preliminary estimates show the initial payment would provide about $400 billion in benefits, with an additional $250 billion in quarterly payments in the first year. (Program summary)(Policy details)(EITC Summary)
      • Sign on to this letter here.
  • “YES” on stopping the hemorrhaging of jobs:
    • The Danish Model would help stem mass firings/layoffs that are making people more vulnerable.- “Denmark’s government told private companies struggling with drastic measures to curb the spread of coronavirus that it would cover 75% of employees’ salaries, if they promised not to cut staff.
    • Under the three-month aid period that will last until June 9, the state offers to pay 75% of employees’ salaries at a maximum of 23,000 Danish crowns ($3,418) per month, while the companies pay the remaining 25%.
    • “If there’s a big drop in activity, and production is halted, we understand the need to send home employees. But we ask you: Don’t fire them,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said told a news conference on Sunday (15 March).
  • “YES” to protecting vital utilities.
    • Several American utility companies are halting shut-offs during the coronavirus crisis. Gov. Newsom’s executive order also stops utility shutoffs (including but not limited to electric, gas, water, internet, landline telephone and cell phone service) for Californians affected by corornavirus.  The protections are in effect through at least May 31.
  • YES” on freezing expenses that lead to homelessness and bankruptcy:
    • Governor Newsom order authorizes local governments to halt evictions for renters and homeowners, slows foreclosures. (It does not relieve a tenant’s obligation to pay rent however, or restrict the landlord’s ability to recover rent that is due in the future.)
    • (This should be mandatory)…The FDIC has asked banks to take “reasonable and prudent steps” to assist consumers affected by the pandemic. Likewise, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Federal Housing Administration and Fannie Mae reminded servicers and borrowers that hardship forbearance is an option for distressed borrowers. Many banks have set up help pages with information about how they are addressing people affected by the crisis. Contact your lender ASAP if you have a financial hardship; do not wait to miss a payment. Newsom’s Monday order also asks banks to halt foreclosures and related evictions through May 31 at least.
    • The IRS has some online resources. The California Franchise Tax Board has extended filing deadlines for affected taxpayers until June 15 per an executive order from Gov. Newsom.
  • “YES” on helping people who must transition to being caretakers during this crisis.
    • Schools and  adult day care facilities are shutting down, causing hardship for workers. Oregon and Washington are already considering extending unemployment benefits to parents who have to stop working to look after kids when school districts shut down. Adult children of aging parents who need extra care should also have that flexibility

 

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