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Rep. Sharice Davids on Monday issued a release outlining her priorities for a stimulus package to address the massive economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The coronavirus is causing an unprecedented crisis in our country – jeopardizing both the public safety and financial security of our families, workers, and businesses,” Davids said. “As we work to address this public health emergency and provide economic relief, I’m fighting to ensure that the priorities of Kansas and the Third District are incorporated in any stimulus package Congress puts forward. The economic security of the Midwest and Kansas is vital to the economic security of the entire country, and our region should not be overlooked.”
Davids delivered a letter to Democratic House leaders laying out the following goals for the package:
- Protecting workers – Any stimulus package must provide appropriate guardrails to protect workers and ensure large corporations put the needs of those workers ahead of their executives and shareholders. As an example, companies receiving government grants or loans should be willing to guarantee all workers are kept on with a health plan and at least 70% of their present salary.
- Accountability — Lessons learned from the 2008 and 2009 stimulus and relief programs include the need for accountability where the lending and granting of federal money is involved. Strong systems for accountability must be present at every level at which federal money is being lent or dispersed. That includes prohibiting companies that receive federal funds from conducting stock buybacks, lobbying until debt has been repaid, and increasing executive compensation.
- Small business relief – A major focus of this economic stimulus package should be the immediate and significant relief of small business pressure. The most effective small business stimulus in this case would be zero or near-zero interest rate loans to provide for continuity of operations for businesses with 500 employees or fewer. We should also consider grant authority for loans to be converted into grants in instances of extreme economic hardship caused by coronavirus pandemic, and to advance no interest SBA loans to businesses to fund paid leave before the tax credit arrives.
- Childcare — Schools and care facilities across the country have sent children home, with some states, like Kansas, cancelling the remainder of the school year. This has increased pressure on families, some of whom are working from home and providing childcare at the same time. To whatever extent possible, provisions must be made in the stimulus to fully support children, ensure distance learning is enacted where requested, and childcare facilities are given the opportunity to apply for small business relief during this crisis.
- Student loan debt relief – Last week, the Trump Administration announced its plans to waive student loan interest payments. This announcement, while encouraging, falls far short of the urgent need for immediate relief for millions of workers and families that must weather this crisis, and does little to help them keep their money. Proposals that would simply delay payments, like forbearance or deferment, are also inadequate. Enacting stimulus to directly forgive or relieve debt for these borrowers would mean more money staying with borrowers through this crisis.
The Senate failed to advance a vote on a proposed $2 trillion economic stimulus package over the weekend as Democrats pushed for more of the funds to be guaranteed to directly help wage earners.