What’s economically needed for coronavirus, and what’s needlessly political

Mar 13, 2020, 3:02 PM
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A sample of coronavirus is tested in a lab. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Schools are closing down in Washington state, and businesses are feeling the pressure. Things have been getting needlessly political in regards to the coronavirus response. So where do we stand in terms of an economic package?

Rep. Rick Larsen, Democrat from Everett, joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss what to expect and how Democrats and Republicans are responding.

“First thing to remember is last week Congress passed a health care package, which did include a piece that allows the SBA to consider COVID-19 as part of disaster relief. Right now, businesses can fill out an economic injury worksheet that’s online on the governor’s website and begin documenting any economic injury, and that will help put Washington state in a position to take advantage of this new SBA designation that was part of the bill last week,” Larsen said.

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“The Democrats put out a proposed package earlier that focuses on health care, on paid sick leave, on nutrition, and unemployment compensation. And frankly, the negotiation is taking place now between the White House and the Democrats and the Republicans.”

As Jason noted, the coronavirus seems to be facilitating political opportunism among Democrats and Republicans. The Democrats want paid medical leave and have been pushing for that for a while, and appear to be using this to jam it through. Republicans have wanted payroll tax relief and seek to make it permanent, and it seems like they are also using coronavirus to push it through.

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Why is there not at least a conversation of just talking about either of those things in the short term, rather than just long term? Because it sounds like the payroll tax relief plan that the president had proposed is being flatly rejected.

“I think the president’s payroll tax with the plan has been flatly rejected by both parties,” Larsen said. “I think that on the sick leave issue, I tend to agree with you that we could do it on a temporary basis for whatever time frame we’re in the COVID-19 emergency. I think in this case, because we’re going to see retail shops closed down or cut workers, maybe with manufacturing, especially airplane building … impacts in the supply chain with suppliers cutting work, I think looking at unemployment compensation is probably a better focus for that.”

With school closures, Larsen sees the need to temporarily loosen the rules regarding school lunches, and hopes that no matter the issue, we focus proposals on the current emergency.

“If you close schools, well gosh, you know some of these schools in my district have 50 plus percent free and reduced lunches that have to be served in the schools according to rules, so we want to loosen those rules for the period of the emergency so we can kind of do a large scale home delivery for these meals, or some other mechanism to deliver food to these kids how otherwise aren’t getting meals.”

“There are things that we can focus on for the period of time that this emergency takes place. We’ll probably end up there, but there’s just some discussion that has to take place to get there.”

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What’s economically needed for coronavirus, and what’s needlessly political