By ROBERT CHARLES
Association Of Mature American Citizens
Forget big talk, big numbers, big politics. What exactly does the “2.2 trillion dollar” rescue bill do? How can we get access to needed relief? When will it arrive? Here are solid answers about what matters most to you.
This bill puts wind in our sails, but in the end – recovery will be on us.
First of all, the bill contains big money for “frontline health care” workers and equipment, test kits, masks, gloves, respirators, ventilators, veteran homes, hospitals, disaster relief funds for states and localities. And, perhaps just as important, it offers aid to individuals and small businesses.
Having read every title, section and subsection, key things stand out. Once Congress “appropriates” money, it must be “apportioned” by OMB to departments, down to agencies, assistant secretaries, program managers, and procurement officers to let contracts. That takes time.
The good news is this law will accelerate ‘real-time research’ on a vaccine – DOD already has six trials up, civilian agencies more. Government is working hand-in-glove with companies. It also supports ‘domestic manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals,’ disinfectants, quarantine services, supercomputers, laboratories, and telehealth. It helps military service members, transit systems, food banks, educational institutions, farmers, and homeless shelters.
That said, the rubber meets the road with individuals and the small businesses, which employ 80 percent of America. Consumers and small employers drive the economy. That is why relief to them – is critical.
The “CARES” Act – a clever acronym for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act – starts here: Many individuals will “within three weeks,” according to the Treasury, receive a check “in their bank accounts.” Adults who earn less than $75,000 should get a $1200 payment, joint filers earning less than $150,000 should get $2400, with gradual reductions up to $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for joint filers.
Provisos: Adults need no regular income and can be SSI beneficiaries. Seniors are included. They must have a Social Security number, so no illegal aliens. If eligible, checks should arrive by end of month. (Title II, Section 2201).
As coronavirus tests become available, the law assures that “uninsured individuals” will receive the test “with no added cost-sharing” under state Medicaid programs – same under Medicare Part B. (Sections 3716-17). On the flip side, “hospitals, especially those in rural and frontier areas” get “reliable and stable cash flow” (Section 3719), plus enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid (Sections 3801-3841).
The law focuses on small employers. SBA loans are available – ask at your local bank – for those with less than 500 employees, forgiveness if employees are not laid off. In Title 4, Sections 4001 et seq., emergency relief of all kinds is offered to businesses large and small. Tens of billions are directed to transportation, banks and specific sectors (Sections 1101-1114, 2301-08, 4001-4114).
Title II, Section C, offers “a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by employers,” if “operations are fully or partially suspended” – think restaurants, retailers, manufacturers, services – or if “gross receipts declined by more than 50 percent” compared to same quarter last year (Section 2301).
Provisions allow “delay of payment of employer payroll taxes” and “modifications for net operating losses,” relaxing limitations on a small company “losses.” Importantly, deductions apply to “pass-through businesses and sole proprietors” – allowing them to recoup losses for keeping people employed.
In short, this bill is an adrenalin boost for consumers, workers, small businesses, students, and hard-hit sectors, plus those battling the virus on the frontlines. The goal: Get us over the hump, as fast and efficiently as possible.
Does the bill assure our economy “roars back?” No, that is on us. Average Americans must dig in, work hard, help each other get up, get by, and get on with being what we are – resilient.
Big talk, numbers and politics are not where rubber meets the road. We meet the road – make our future – as individuals, families, small businesses, and never-say-never Americans. The bill is a nice gust, but the rudder ours.
Robert Charles is the national spokesman for The Association of Mature American Citizens (https://www.amac.us), a senior advocacy organization that takes its marching orders from its members. They act and speak on members’ behalf, protecting their interests and offering a practical insight on how to best solve the problems they face today.