What’s in the $2 trillion US coronavirus stimulus bill

Here’s what’s in the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill

 
The Senate releases a roughly $2 trillion economic relief plan in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which it hopes to pass Wednesday night. 
  • It includes direct payments to Americans, strengthened unemployment insurance, loans to businesses small and large and increased health care resources for hospitals, states and municipalities. 
  • It is unclear when the House will pass the legislation, though it could do so as early as Thursday. 
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  • The Senate released an unprecedented stimulus bill Wednesday, estimated to cost $2 trillion, as Congress tries to lessen the coronavirus pandemic’s human and economic toll. 

    The chamber hopes to move quickly to pass the legislation Wednesday night as workers face widespread layoffs, hospitals and states starve for resources and businesses small and large worry about their survival. The House is unlikely to pass the proposal before Thursday. 

     

    The bill, designed to offer relief to individuals, the health care system and even an entire corporate sector ravaged by the outbreak, would: 

  • Give direct payments of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples, with $500 added for every child, based on 2019 tax returns for those who filed them and 2018 information, if they have not. The benefit would start to phase out above $75,000 in income for individuals and $150,000 for couples, going away completely at the $99,000 and $198,000 thresholds, respectively
  • Boost unemployment insurance, adding $600 per week for up to four months on top of what beneficiaries normally receive from states. It expands eligibility to self-employed people and independent contractors
  • Create a $500 billion pool of taxpayer money to make loans, loan guarantees or investments to or in businesses, states and municipalites damaged by the crisis
  • Give $25 billion in grants to airlines and $4 billion to cargo carriers to be used exclusively to pay employee wages, salaries and benefits, and set aside another $25 billion and $4 billion, respectively, for loans and loan guarantees 
  • Provide $17 billion in loans and loan guarantees for unspecified “businesses critical to maintaining national security”
  • Put $117 billion into hospitals and veterans’ health care 
  • Provide $16 billion for the strategic national stockpile of pharmaceutical and medical supplies
  • Give $350 billion in loans for small businesses to cover salary, wages and benefits, worth 250% of an employer’s monthly payroll, with a maximum loan of $10 million
  • Include a tax credit for retaining employees, worth up to 50% of wages paid during the crisis, for businesses forced to suspend operations or that have seen gross receipts fall by 50% from the previous year
  • Require group health plans and insurance providers to cover preventive services related to coronavirus without cost sharing
  • Delay payroll tax for employers, requiring half of the deferred tax to be paid by the end of 2021 and the other half by the end of 2022 
  • Ban companies that take government loans from buying back stock until a year after the loan is paid back
  • Bar employees or executives who made at least $425,000 last year from getting a raise
  • Stop President Donald Trump and his family members’ businesses from receiving emergency taxpayer relief. The provision also applies to Vice President Mike Pence, heads of executive departments, members of Congress and their family members 
  • Suspend federal student loan payments through Sept. 30 with no accrual of interest on those loans 
  • As the coronavirus disease COVID-19 spreads across the U.S., there are now more than 65,000 cases and at least 900 deaths from it, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Patients have flooded hospitals in New York City, the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., as states around the country plead for more critical resources such as masks and ventilators. 

    As businesses and schools close across the country to slow the outbreak, a wave of layoffs and furloughs has hit Americans. States are expected to report historic unemployment claims as the economy slows and workers struggle to cover bills. 

Bernanke: Coronavirus disruptions ‘much closer to a major snowstorm’ than the Great Depression

Ben Bernanke, the former Federal Reserve chairman who served before and after the 2008 financial crisis, told CNBC on Wednesday the coronavirus economic halt is more like a “major snowstorm” than an economic depression.

“This is a very different animal than the Great Depression,” Bernanke stressed. “The Great Depression, for one thing, lasted for 12 years, and it came from human problems: monetary and financial shocks that hit the system.”

 

“This has some of the same feel of panic, some of the feel of volatility,” he said in a “Squawk Box” interview. “It’s really much closer to a major snowstorm or a natural disaster than it is to a classic 1930s-style depression.”

Bernanke said he does expect a “very sharp” U.S. recession, but also a “fairly quick” recovery.

Bernanke’s comments echoed what current St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said earlier on “Squawk Box.” Bullard believes the economy is facing a huge shock to the system over the near term, but it will then bounce back strong after worst of the outbreak passes.

The St. Louis Fed president and his fellow central bankers have taken extraordinary steps during the pandemic, pushing short-term borrowing rates to near zero and pledging asset purchases with no limit to support markets.

Bernanke said Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and his team have been “extremely proactive” and “working really hard and got ahead of this.”

 

Early Wednesday, the Trump administration and Senate leaders struck a deal on a $2 trillion coronavirus economic relief bill. The Senate is expected to vote and pass it later Wednesday.

However, Bernanke warned that “if we don’t get the public health right” there’s no Fed monetary policy or White House and Capitol Hill fiscal package that’s going to work.
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Tokyo 2020: Olympics to be postponed until 2021, says IOC member

 

A woman wearing a protective mask walking in front of Olympic rings at the Olympics Museum in Tokyo
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are due to take placed from 24 July to 9 August

The 2020 Olympic Games will be postponed by one year because of coronavirus, says International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound.

It comes after the chairman of the British Olympic Association said Great Britain would be unlikely to send a team to Tokyo this summer.

Australia and Canada have already said they will not compete in Japan.

"On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided," Pound told USA today.

"The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on 24 July, that much I know."

The International Olympic Committee has given itself four weeks to decide on the future of this summer's Games, but veteran IOC member Pound says a decision will be announced soon.

"It will come in stages," he said.

"We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense."

'We will be joining Canada and Australia'

Canada and Australia had already announced their decision to withdraw from this summer's Games when the chairman of the British Olympic Association, Hugh Robertson, said he expected Britain to be "joining shortly".

"We can't see any way that this can go ahead as things are constituted," said Robertson. "I expect we will be joining Canada and Australia shortly."

As of Sunday, there had been 5,683 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United Kingdom, with 281 deaths.

The UK government has urged the public to follow advice on social distancing, with MPs debating stricter measures to ensure people comply.

"I think it is very simple. If the virus continues as predicted by the government, I don't think there is any way we can send a team," Robertson told Sky Sports News.

"First, I don't see any way that the athletes and Team GB could be ready by then. Elite training facilities are perfectly understandably and quite correctly closed around the country, so there is no way they could undertake the preparation they need to get ready for a Games.

"Secondly, there is the appropriateness of holding an Olympic Games at a time like this. We are actually in a process where we are talking to all our sports. We will complete that over the next couple of days.

"We have already said to the IOC (International Olympic Committee) that we think their four-week pause is absolutely the right thing to do."

On Sunday, Canada became the first major country to withdraw from this summer's Olympics and Paralympics.

The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committee said it had taken "the difficult decision" to pull out after consulting athletes, sports groups, and the government.

It then "urgently called" on the IOC, the International Paralympic Committee and the World Health Organization to postpone the Games for a year.

"It's clear the Games can't be held in July," Australia chef de mission Ian Chesterman said on Monday.

"Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging for them."

The IOC has said postponement is in its "scenario planning". The cancellation of the Tokyo 2020, due to run from 24 July to 9 August, is "not on the agenda", but a "scaled-down" Games is also being considered.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe told his country's parliament on Monday that a postponement would be unavoidable if the event cannot be held in a complete way.

https://www.bbc.com/sport/athletics/52002474