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House Democrats Just Unveiled Their Own Stimulus Plan — It Gives More To The People And Less To Corporations

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Democrats on Monday night followed through with their threat to go rogue with their own stimulus plan, unveiling a more than 1,400-page bill packed with policy differences compared to the proposal Senate Republicans laid out, Politico reports.

After the Republican bill tanked twice during test votes in the Senate, House Democrats wrote a competing proposal to save the country from economic destruction at the hands of the coronavirus.

The House measure would boost emergency funds for agencies, eliminate a payroll tax suspension, kick in additional help for hospitals, schools and food banks, and more.

Here’s what House Democrats have included in their bill and how it contrasts with the latest proposal from Senate Republicans, according to Politico:

Bigger cash payments to Americans
Democrats want to further plump the direct payments that would go out to Americans under the bill, proposing $1,500 per person, instead of the $1,200 on the table under the Senate measure laid out Sunday. Unlike the latest plan from Senate Republicans, however, higher earners would have to pay back part or all of the assistance over three years if their taxable income is $75,000 or more for a single filer or $150,000 or more for couples filing jointly. The money would be available to anyone with a tax ID number, and to retirees and people who are unemployed, rather than just to people who file taxes for 2019 or get Social Security.

More help to hospitals
Health care providers and community health centers would receive about $150 billion, while hospitals would get an additional $80 billion in low-interest loans. The proposal is more in line with industry requests, compared to the $75 billion Senate Republicans have offered. The House bill would also waive treatment costs, abandon certain barriers to accessing medicines and provide safety protections for health workers.

Expanding unemployment, paid sick leave
The unemployed would get an extra $600 per week on top of state or federal benefits in order to replace 100 percent of lost wages. The measure would also extend paid sick leave benefits to cover individuals, such as health care workers and first responders, who were cut out of Congress’ second coronavirus response.

Emergency funding for federal agencies
House Democrats want to go much bigger in sending emergency money to federal agencies, proposing hundreds of billions more than the $242 billion Senate Republicans have pitched, according to a Democratic aide. The White House, meanwhile, has made a narrowly tailored request for $46 billion.

‘Green’ rules for airlines
If airlines are going to get billions of dollars in loans under the bill, Democrats say they need to cut their carbon emissions in half by 2050. The House’s measure would also kick in $1 billion to help develop sustainable fuels for planes and create a program for the government to buy less-efficient aircraft, à la “cash-for-clunkers.”

Taxpayers could make early withdrawals from their retirement funds without penalty
The two stimulus drafts emerging from both chambers present markedly different stimulus tax plans, with House Democrats omitting the payroll tax suspension included in the Senate GOP bill. The Democratic plan would also expand health insurance premium tax credits under the Affordable Care Act and beef up the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and the Dependent Care Credit.

Taxpayers could make early withdrawals from their retirement funds without having to pay the usual 10 percent penalty during the coronavirus crisis, and required minimum withdrawals would be suspended for 2020. Health insurance premium tax credits under the Affordable Care Act would be expanded.

Laying on the lobbying restrictions
The House bill goes much further than the Senate measure when it comes to limiting executive pay and stock buybacks, as well as imposing lobbying restrictions. For example, the House package would bar such corporations from lobbying the federal government — a move sure to arouse anger on K Street among Democratic and Republican lobbyists alike.

Business tax relief
Companies would get credits against payroll taxes for giving employees any kind of sick or family medical leave, not just for coronavirus-related reasons.

Businesses would get to deduct losses from this year, last year and 2018 from their taxes for any of the last five years. The Senate bill includes a similar “carry back” provision. The House did not include provisions allowing faster write-offs for restaurant and retail business investments or bigger deductions for business interest, both of which are in the Senate bill.

Aid for airlines
Airlines would receive about $40 billion in grants through the House package, as well as up to $21 billion for unsecured loans and loan guarantees for a total of $61 billion in aid. Senate Republicans have proposed $58 billion in loans and guarantees, plus a holiday from paying fuel tax.

Smaller increase for the Pentagon
House Democrats would give the Defense Department an $8 billion emergency boost, including $500 million for purchases made under the Defense Production Act. The Senate GOP bill would provide the Pentagon with a $10 billion hike.

Extra aid for small businesses
Democrats are pitching $500 billion in grants and interest-free loans to small businesses, including $300 billion in forgivable loans to cover short-term payroll costs. That compares to $300 billion in loans for small businesses in the Senate bill.

Outlawing internet cutoffs
While hundreds of internet providers have already promised they will not cut off service to households and small businesses while the coronavirus rages, the bill would ensure it’s illegal to do so.

Further action from the Fed
Consumer debt payments would be suspended and the Federal Reserve would have to establish a program to reimburse creditors for lost revenue. The central bank would also have to support state and local bond markets, in addition to providing direct loans to small businesses.

Flush with food assistance
The bill includes an extra $450 million boost to food banks, as well as whatever funds are “necessary” to account for more people in need of food stamps. Senate Republicans had proposed about $15.6 billion in food stamp assistance.

Rewarding nonprofits
Hospitals would qualify for tax credits for charity care they provide and for creating or expanding facilities to handle the coronavirus patient load. Governmental employers, including public universities, would get tax credits for mandated worker leave due to the coronavirus.

Penalizing price-gougers
The FTC and top lawyers at the state level would get more power to go after people and companies that price-gouge during the pandemic.

Keeping utilities on
Besides spending $1.5 billion to help low-income households pay water bills, the House legislation would ban utility providers from cutting off service during the crisis.

Doubling up on education cash
Democrats are calling for $60 billion in emergency assistance to go out for education initiatives, about three times the amount the Senate bill contains. That total includes $30 billion to help K-12 schools, as well as $10 billion for colleges and universities.

Saving the T-band for first responders
By doing away with a mandate that the FCC sell off the T-band, the plan Democrats are pushing would make winners out of first responders in the ongoing fight over auctioning the spectrum they use for emergency communications.

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College Student Makes Masks For The Deaf & Hard Of Hearing, Gives Them For Free

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A college student is being praised after creating a mask designed to help the deaf and hard of hearing community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I just saw that people were making masks on Facebook for everyone to have instead of the throwaway masks, and I was like, what about the deaf and hard of hearing population?” explained 21-year-old Ashley Lawrence, a college senior from Versailles, Kentucky, local station LEX18 reports.

Lawrence is studying education for the deaf and hard of hearing at Eastern Kentucky University. Due to the virus, she is living back at home and doing her student teaching from home.

“I felt like there was a huge population that was being looked over,” Lawrence said. “We’re all panicking right now and so a lot of people are just not being thought of. So, I felt like it was very important that, even at a time like this, people need to have that communication.”

After a conversation with her mom, they put their craft skills to work.

“We started out making them with bed sheets that we had, and luckily bed sheets are big,” Lawrence said. “So we have two or three sets so we’re making them out of that. Then, a couple months ago we needed plastic fabric for something. And so we have a whole roll of that and the window is only this big so having a whole roll is very helpful so luckily we haven’t needed any supplies yet.”

With her mission centered around the deaf and hard of hearing community, she is going the extra mile.

“We’re trying different things to for people with cochlear implants and hearing aids if they can’t wrap around the ears,” Lawrence said. “We’re making some that have around the head and around the neck.”

She explained the necessity for the plastic window on the masks is why she started this project in the first place.

“For anyone who uses speech reading, lip reading, anybody like that,” Lawrence said about the purpose of the masks. “And people who are profoundly deaf who use ASL as their primary mode of communication. ASL is very big on facial expressions and it is part of the grammar. So I don’t know if you have seen Virginia Moore on Andy Beshear’s things at five o’clock, but she’s very emotive, and if half of that is gone because you’re wearing a mask then half of what you’re saying is being missed, so even if it’s not physically talking and just using ASL, then you need to have that kind of access.”

Ashley Lawrence

Ashley Lawrence (left) poses with her mother while they both wear a mask made for the deaf and hard of hearing community. Source: LEX18.

In less than two days, Larence already had dozens of orders from six states. To order one of Lawrence’s masks, reach out to her at dhhmaskproject@gmail.com.

“I’m not charging anything for them because I think that if you need them, then you need them and I don’t think that you should have to pay for them,” Lawrence said. “So we are sending them out for free whenever we have people asking for them and if they’re foreign, then maybe we’ll charge shipping, but other than that they’re completely free.”

Those who would like to help Lawrence with the cost of materials and shipping, she is accepting donations on her GoFundMe page.

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