stimulus update july 29 2020
July 29, 2020

Stimulus Update 7/29: Negotiations Aren’t Going Well, But At Least They’re Not About Stimulus Checks

COVID-19

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Stimulus Update 7/29/2020

This is my stimulus update for Wednesday, July 29.

Don’t want to read? Watch the video here!

Pulse of the Negotiations

The pulse on the negotiations right now between Democrats and Republicans is that it’s not going well.  We know that Schumer, Pelosi, Mnuchin, Meadows, they met yesterday, there are these bipartisan meetings going on between Democratic and Republican leaders regarding the stimulus legislation.

And this morning Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that Republicans are “very far apart” from Democrats in the negotiations.

Mnuchin was with Trump, and Trump had some things to say about the expiring federal eviction moratorium as well as stimulus checks, he said, “You got to work on the evictions so people don’t get evicted. You work on the payments to the people. The rest of it, we’re so far apart we don’t care.”

I don’t think he really means that he doesn’t care about things other than direct payments to the people and eviction moratorium.

But you know one thing that we haven’t heard a lot of squabbling over between Democrats and Republicans is stimulus checks, and that appears to be because Republicans and Democrats aren’t too far apart from each other on those, there are differences.

Republicans want a CARES Act-type round of stimulus checks — $1,200 per person with $500 per dependent and now all dependents eligible — while Democrats in the HEROES Act proposed $1,200 per person and $1,200 per dependent up to three dependents, and Democrats made the pool of individuals eligible for stimulus payments broader, but at the end of the day they both agree that there should be another round of $1200 stimulus checks.

So it seems that whether or not stimulus checks are going to be in the next bill, that’s a foregone conclusion, they are, now what we have to be concerned about is getting this bill passed, all the things other than stimulus checks that Republicans and Democrats are arguing about because Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to go piecemeal on this and if they did go piecemeal on anything it probably wouldn’t be stimulus checks, it would probably unemployment, liability protection, and school reopening.

McConnell’s Dealbreaker

Even though we’re probably not going to talk a whole lot about stimulus checks in particular going forward, at least Republicans and Democrats negotiate because there’s nothing to really talk about because as soon as negotiating those points, we have to look at what the other things in this bill are, that could prevent a bill from passing at all.

And one of those things is liability protection for business, and that’s what I want to focus on today because yesterday we talked about the other big sticking point between Republicans and Democrats namely the unemployment.

But quick sidenote on unemployment — in my home state of California, L.A. Times is reporting that California lawmakers may consider doing their own $600 unemployment boost — I don’t want to dwell on this because I know that many of you are not in California, but it’s something to be aware of, just like with stimulus checks here and there, you know, a few local governments had their own stimulus programs and what not, we may see something similar for unemployment, so keep an eye on your state and local news.

Now on to liability protection.

Because yesterday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated his hard stance on liability protection for businesses in the next stimulus package, we know he has talked about this for months on end, and yesterday he repeated his claim that there will not be another stimulus bill without this provision in there.

So while I know most of you are not business owners and this liability protection, it’s not top of mind for you, you care about stimulus checks and some of you about unemployment, but this liability protection and the negotiations surrounding it is still important to pay attention to because by his own admission not including this liability protection in the final bipartisan legislation would be a dealbreaker for Mitch McConnell, and right now top Democrats like Pelosi and Schumer aren’t too happy with this liability shield.

So the portion of the HEALS Act that deals with this liability protection is called the “Safeguarding America’s Frontline Employees To Offer 6 Work Opportunities Required to Kickstart the Economy 7 Act’’ or the ‘‘SAFE TO WORK Act’’ because remember this HEALS Act is really split into separate bills, confusing, I know.

There’s a lot in there, but the crux of McConnell’s liability shield is this: If you’re a small business, you shouldn’t be sued for “coronavirus exposure” — that’s the language of the bill — unless you were not making reasonable efforts in light of all the circumstances to comply with the applicable government standards and guidance in effect at the time of the alleged exposure to coronavirus, and you engaged in gross negligence or willful misconduct that caused an actual exposure to coronavirus that caused personal injury to somebody else.

And they want this retroactive to December 1, 2019, and lasting through at least September 30, 2024, almost 5 years, and this protection could be longer if the Department of Health and Human Services says we’re still in a coronavirus crisis after September 30, 2024 — goodness, I sure hope not.

Bargaining Chips

Yesterday on MSNBC Chuck Schumer called McConnell’s proposed liability shield “extreme to the nth” and a “K-Street corporate lawyer wish list,” of course referring to K Street in Washington, DC where a lot of political lobbyists have their office.

And Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said on CBS Face the Nation that “Democrats will not support liability protections for employers of ‘essential workers’ in the next coronavirus relief bill.”

So this is definitely a battleground, but remember this all might be bargaining chips, there is no additional aid for state and local governments in the HEALS Act, we know Democrats want that, a couple months ago Republicans were floating the idea of tying additional aid for state and local government to liability protections to this liability shield on that state, and that document the New York Times got a hold of in that document it appeared that Republicans were acknowledging that they would have to give a little bit on state and local government to appease the Democrats, and so state and local and liability protection might be key bargaining chips in these stimulus negotiations, especially considering that McConnell is going to have to make some bipartisan concessions here because many Republicans in the Senate don’t want to do more stimulus, they don’t think another relief bill is necessary because they’re saying that we’ve spent so much already.

You heard Lindsey Graham, he thinks half the republicans are going to vote against any next stimulus package. McConnell got to work with the Democrats here for stimulus checks to pass.

Logan Allec, CPA

Logan is a practicing CPA, Certified Student Loan Professional, and founder of Money Done Right, which he launched in July 2017. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.

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