President Donald Trump’s plan to cut the payroll tax to effectively zero percent is an attempt to stave off economic concerns for Wall Street, and to inject a much-needed stimulus into the economy.
But whether we’re addressing economic concerns or just trying to ensure people are helped during the coronavirus crisis, one thing’s for certain: a tax cut just ain’t gonna cut it. Ensuring there’s a health workforce, on the other hand, or taking care of those who develop symptoms of the virus, is a better option.
House Democrats on Wednesday evening unveiled their own plan for how to deal with the crisis, which focuses on worker protections and helping families. Here are four ways how it’s a better plan than what Trump and Republicans are offering so far…
Free coronavirus testing (even for the uninsured)
One thing that must be done right away is to ensure that those who think they might have the disease get tested, so that community “clusters” can be quarantined faster and more efficiently. That can’t happen if people cannot afford to pay for the testing.
While Trump announced the same idea during his address to the nation on Wednesday — stating that insurance companies have agreed to waive copays for testing patients — his plan doesn’t address testing for patients without insurance at all. It also only “waives” copays for patients who have Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which isn’t much of a waiver at all — it’s the patient still paying for their own copay, through an account they likely helped to fund.
Democrats don’t have such stipulations in their plan. Recognizing this is an unprecedented crisis, they aim to ensure every patient who needs to gets tested, through a bill they’re calling the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
🚨NEW: @HouseDemocrats just introduced the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. As the #coronavirus pandemic continues, this bill helps ensure the personal safety and financial security of America’s working families. https://t.co/a55FXUrirl
— House Appropriations (@AppropsDems) March 12, 2020
Protections for workers
Democrats plan to address what will be an inevitable outcome of the COVID-19 outbreak, as it grows across the nation: how to guarantee workers who get sick don’t feel compelled to “struggle through it” in order to get a paycheck.
Their bill would give every worker in the country two weeks of paid sick leave. It would also give up to three months of paid family and medical leave, if needed, and enhanced unemployment insurance — designed specifically for workers whose occupations may be furloughed because of the disease.
Create protections for “frontline” workers
What about helping those who are the helpers? Nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers, administrative staff, and so on deserve extra attention during this crisis, as they’re the ones on the frontline who will be helping the general population.
Expanding government food services
Costs have yet to be calculated, but by some estimates, the bill may include an additional $1 billion in aid to families who may be struggling to buy groceries during this crisis. Malnourishment will not do any family any good, and this bill hopes to address that by ensuring families who are in need, as well as aging populations, are able to get themselves fed, by expanding programs like SNAP and other food bank programs.
Democrats appear to have a program in mind that works from the bottom up in order to not only help keep the economy afloat, but also find ways to help families in need. It behooves Republicans in the Senate, and the president himself, to put politics aside and give careful consideration to each of these points.
Featured image credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr
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Chris Walker is a freelance writer based out of Madison, Wisconsin. A millennial with more than a decade of journalism experience, Chris aims to provide readers with the latest and most accurate news of national importance. Chris likes to spend his free time doing activities in his community with his family.