2020-03-20 — slate.com
Limiting these payments for the upper middle class and up is defensible, even if it irritates commentators who'd prefer a more comprehensive approach that mimics a universal basic income. Penalizing the poor during a pandemic, however, is beyond the pale. We're in the midst of a planned shutdown of the economy that will disproportionately harm low-wage service workers, yet Republicans are concerned about properly rewarding people for work. It is a crass joke.
It's worth emphasizing that the GOP's new plan only calls for a single payment. The Trump administration had said its plan called for up to two, with the first arriving on April 6 and a second landing in mid-May if the crisis continued. This is not a proposal designed to provide ongoing support during an extended downturn--it's essentially just a somewhat larger version of the tax rebate George W. Bush passed in his 2008 stimulus package. The bill does include a large loan program aimed at helping small businesses keep their workers on payroll, which, if successful, could reduce the number of Americans who end up under financial stress. But the bill is, overall, fairly stingy with direct support for workers.
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