Washington—Heritage Action for America released the following statement from Vice President Jessica Anderson in response to congressional negotiations over a “Phase 3” coronavirus response package.
As the nation continues to grapple with the health and economic consequences of the Coronavirus, Congress is right to react and seek relief for the American people. However, in the urgent negotiations, Congress unfortunately placed onerous paid leave mandates on small businesses in the “Families First” legislation, and it is now proposing to bail out special interests and unrelated industries in the recently unveiled CARES Act. Instead of passing government bailouts, Congress should instead seek to support workers and employers, who are suddenly confronted with government-mandated closures and travel restrictions through no fault of their own.
The CARES Act coronavirus stimulus bill includes $200 billion of crony bailouts. This would set a terrible precedent for a crisis that does not yet have an end date. Congress should focus on ensuring workers remain attached to their employer so we can quickly recover when this pandemic passes. This cannot be done through paid leave mandates, expanded unemployment insurance, and Treasury-chosen bailout winners. Rather, Congress has a role to play in ensuring businesses have cash resources to continue making payroll so their employees have steady income while not being able to work.
This can be accomplished by 1) making all businesses eligible for loans for payroll and benefits, regardless of how many employees they employ 2) expanding the tax credit included in the Families First bill to all employers to ensure more lower-income workers for large companies receive paid leave; 3) purchasing “gift cards” — i.e. pre-purchasing goods and services, at a discount, which the federal government already plans to use in order to supply liquidity to businesses and save taxpayers money; and 4) waiving required minimum distribution rules for retirees to ensure the value of their retirement funds are maximized during the market downturn.
Congress’ work should be targeted, temporary, and focused solely on the impacts of the coronavirus on our health and economy. These four policies would promote public health, support struggling workers and businesses, and limit political waste and abuse during this time of crisis.