Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The way we beat coronavirus cuts and corporate bailouts?

Don’t worry, as coronavirus cases continue to pile up in the US and entertainment and travel options close up by the second, our Fearless Leader has the solution.

Yes, I laughed my ass off at Trump’s one-track, GOP answer of “TAX CUTS!”, but let’s take a look at what the scheme might be, and figure out how much money we are talking about? It looks like it would involve some kind of reduction in federal payroll taxes, which are targeted to a few specific programs.
Payroll taxes produced $914 billion in tax revenue for Social Security during fiscal year 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The taxes also generated $278 billion for Medicare and $41 billion for unemployment insurance, the office said…..

A worker making up to $14,160 a year would pay $165 less in tax, the researchers concluded. A worker in the top 0.1% of earners, making $3.2 million a year, would pay $3,165 less in tax. In the middle, a household earning up to $133,330 a year would pay $2,435 less in tax, [researchers at the University of Pennsylvania] added.

The federal government would forego between $141 billion and $151 billion on the one-year tax holiday, while gross domestic product would climb 0.3%, but the boost would be short-lived before gross domestic product edged down by 0.04% in 2050, according to the study’s estimates.
I guess a few extra dollars in your paycheck isn’t bad, if you’re still working. But that’s the first problem – what if you’re not working because business slows down due to coronavirus? Then you get nothing from it.

In addition, the article notes that many “gig economy” contractors and self-employed individuals don’t pay their payroll taxes until they file their taxes, which won’t happen for another year. So how is that going to help the situation for those people?

And then there’s the really bad part of Trump’s tax cut scheme – the $150 billion that is taken out of Social Security would deplete the program’s trust fund faster. Let me remind you that Social Security is projected to be completely paid for over the next 15 years if nothing is changed. After that, it would only require minor changes to shore it up after that without borrowing a dollar (especially if those changes involve scrapping the regressive Social Security “cap”, which currently kicks in at $137,700).

But a panicky tax cut and an increasing budget deficit can be used as excuses for Republicans to cut Social Security out of concerns over “solvency.” And messing up Social Security would sure be in line with what the GOP’s Koch puppetmasters would want. Just like how a certain presidential candidate told us nearly a decade ago.

As to the industries already being slammed by the economic effects of coronavirus and the recent crash on Wall Street, don’t worry, TrumpWorld has a plan to help them out.
The Washington Post first reported that the White House was considering assistance for oil and gas producers. Three people told the newspaper that the aid would probably be in the form of low-interest government loans to the shale companies.

Russia declined last week to join the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries nations in agreeing to cut production in response to the slowdown in demand from the coronavirus.

In response, Saudi Arabia announced that it would increase its oil production, flooding the market and causing a sharp decrease in price.
Wait, I thought we were besties with the Russians and Saudis after our businessman president found ways to make deals with them (political and otherwise)? He couldn’t have been SUCKERED by MBS and Vlad, could he?

Others didn’t think that fossil fuel industries should be at the top of the list when it comes to the economic problems of recent days.
Democrats and environmentalists, however, slammed the idea of giving assistance to the industry.

“Why is the administration bailing out oil and gas companies instead of dealing with some of the other worker related things...that are pressing on the American people right now during this crisis related to the virus?” asked Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) during a House hearing.
Well, Rep. Grijalva, the White House is one step ahead of you. They’re making sure that people won’t get hit with major bills from coronavirus tests (if they can get tested) by…. having insurance companies do a pinky swear?
“We want people to get tested,” Pence said at a White House meeting with President Donald Trump and leaders from private health-insurance companies. Health-insurance company CEOs have pledged that patients won’t get unexpected bills after being tested for the novel coronavirus, and they’ve also agreed to waive co-pays for people covered by their plans, Pence said.

Pence said he spoke on behalf of the country’s largest insurers, who cover some 240 million Americans, either through private insurance or through Medicare or Medicaid. As of Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. had 1,050 cases of the coronavirus, and 29 deaths, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

“We want the American people to know that they are covered through private insurance. They are covered through Medicare and Medicaid. And there will be no surprise billing,” Pence said.

Insurers have also agreed to cover telemedicine (talking to a doctor on the phone) and to “extend coverage for coronavirus treatment in all of their benefit plans,” Pence said.

And yes, there will likely be tax dollars shelled out to back this up, although we don’t know whether it’ll be through loans, straight subsidies, or in using federal disaster programs.

So now that we have the coronavirus outbreak under control, I’m sure Wall Street’s concerns are subsiding and things are fine again.

Dang it!

I got a better plan. Let’s expand preventive treatment and have taxes pay for it as part of basic health care that EVERY AMERICAN IS ENTITLED TO, along with tests for outbreaks of infectious viruses like this one, while having a CDC that is fully staffed with emergency plans and remedies ready to go should something like the coronavirus outbreak hit.

Seems to be better to center our country's health policy people who need the services rather than the needs of the for-profit corporations who might make a little less money because they have to (gasp!) treat the vulnerable and afflicted! And maybe having the response to coronavirus not be headed up by someone who ignored the CDC's request to allow HIV patients to use clean needles and ended up having many more people get afflicted, but actually has some kind of medical background.

It could work, I tell ya!

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