‘If you want to destroy what’s left of the economy, pass it the way it’s written…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) After the Senate’s passage of an unprecedented $2 trillion economic stimulus bill to address the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, four GOP senators issued a warning Wednesday that a mistake could create even bigger problems.
The bill, as written, would encourage many wage-earners—including those in essential areas—to quit working during the current coronavirus quarantines and, instead, collect more in unemployment.
“If you want to destroy what’s left of the economy, pass it the way it’s written,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham. “If you wanna help people, give them their wages, but don’t pay ’em more not to work.”
The unemployment provision in the bill, as written, allows those recently out of work to receive a $600 federal supplement on top of whatever they might otherwise receive in state unemployment benefits, which would typically be half of earned wages with a cap at a certain amount.
The goal, said Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC, was to use federal supplements to fully fund one’s wages during mandatory work furloughs.
However, “this legislation does not stop at 100 percent of your income,” Scott said. “This legislation would allow you, in unemployment, to make more than you do in employment.”
That would include members of the work force such as medical aides, restaurant and grocery workers who, while on the lower end of the pay scale, are providing essential services during the crisis.
“If you’re a nurse… you’re on the front lines here,” Graham said. But instead, “you’re gonna have all these well-trained nurses that are gonna make $24 an hour on unemployment.”
Republican Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Rick Scott of Florida joined the two South Carolina senators at the podium in seeking a last-minute amendment to correct the problem before the bill goes before the House.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., planned to pass it through unanimous consent rather than call the chamber back into session, meaning that the objections of any one representative could thwart it.
Graham said that they would soon find out whether the language in the bill was, in fact, a drafting error or whether it was a deliberate effort by Democrats to upend the existing pay structure.
“If this is not a drafting error then it’s the worst idea I’ve seen in a long time,” Graham said. “And that’s saying a lot given the fact that we’re in Washington.”