O’Brien on Senate’s March 23 COVID-19 relief bill

~by Colleen O’Brien

Five things listed in the Republican’s bill to help the American people during the covid-19 crisis, as reported in Roll Call by Niels Leiniewski 3-23-20, 1 pm:

1. “promoting charitable deductions.” A bipartisan group of senators, Lesniewski reports, is “reviving a proposal to create an ‘above the line’ deduction for contributions to charity. The expanded standard deductions in the most recent tax code overhaul law has led to fewer taxpayers needing to itemize deductions.”

2. “allergy testing.” Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas). Lesniewski notes, has “filed an amendment seeking to provide specific coverage for allergy diagnostic testing services under Medicare and Medicaid. Some of the symptoms associated with COVID-19 overlap with allergies.
3. “bond buying by the Federal Reserve.” The leader of that bipartisan effort is a Democrat: Sen. Robert Menendez (D- New Jersey). That proposal, Lesniewski writes, would allow the Federal Reserve to “buy and sell investment grade corporate bonds and those issued by entities like state, county and municipal governments” — and none of the bonds would have a maturity under six months.
4. “payroll tax suspension,” which is being proposed by Sen. David Perdue (R-Georgia) and Sen. Thom Tillis  (R-North Carolina). Those senators are “seeking a broad payroll tax holiday, having filed an amendment setting the tax rate to 0 percent for the year.”
5. “savings bonds.” Sen. John Kennedy (R-Lousiana), according to Lesniewski, has proposed an “amendment” that “would direct the Treasury Department to provide information to states to assist in locating the owners of unclaimed matured bonds for redemption.”

Wow. Not one penny for right now? Many workers have already been off work for a couple of weeks, with no work in sight. Many small businesses are shuttered and wondering if they’ll now lose their corner bar, grocery store, barbershop….

If you’re not getting a paycheck, what good’s a payroll tax suspension?

I wonder of sharing my homemade bean soup with my also unemployed neighbor will constitute a charitable deduction.

Oh, yes, allergy testing. I’ve been fretting worried about my spring allergies. Thanx. Won’t have to stay up nights worrying about that one now.

No maturity under six months on bond sales – relief would flood through me if I thought this meant something to me, individually.

And that states will be allowed to get information from Treasury on how to locate owners of savings bonds? Well done. Whoopee.

Senators, while we have no jobs and no health insurance, thanx to the compassion and understanding you have developed for us working people, we will be thrown out of our rentals or have to renege on our mortgages. If we starve while waiting for coronavirus to get us, it just might make it a short ordeal because we have no health insurance to go to the doctor anyway.

This is not a democracy anymore, Senators. You are front and center lock-stepping behind the oligarch in the White House to a bigger penthouse in a gold-plated tower someplace.

Congrats. And feel good about yourselves.

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