A $900 billion coronavirus stimulus deal seems imminent. Top Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) sounded optimistic on Wednesday, saying, “It's not a done deal yet, but we are very close.”
A point of contention amid the negotiations has been the inclusion of another round of stimulus checks for Americans. The bipartisan $908 billion proposal unveiled on Dec. 9 and then split into two parts this week did not include stimulus payments. The deal will also likely leave out state and local government aid and liability protections for businesses, both sticking points in previous negotiations.
While any deal struck by Congressional leadership will require that most lawmakers support it, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D., Vt.) has already voiced opposition to legislation that excludes $1,200 stimulus checks for Americans.
“If we could do it together in March, if we could succeed 9 months ago by working together, there is no reason why we cannot do the same thing right now,” said Sanders from the Senate floor on Dec. 10. “And that is why I will insist that any agreement in terms of a COVID-19 relief package must include not only strong unemployment benefits, but a $1,200 direct payment for the working families of this country similarly structured to what was included in the CARES package of March.”
The $900 billion coronavirus legislation top Democratic and Republican leadership are considering now could include $600 stimulus checks for Americans, according to reports.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D. Mich.) has been involved in the negotiations and says Americans should be given another round of $1,200 checks.
“I’m hearing as we try to debate this COVID relief package that we now can’t afford to give people another $1,200 stimulus check,” Tlaib told Yahoo Finance. “Well, guess what, I know exactly where we can get the money to pay for it. And I believe Jeff Bezos knows exactly where as well.”
Tlaib has proposed that the U.S. fund another round of checks by reversing President Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cuts passed in 2017.
“That tax program was very egregious and so unfair to the American people. And we are seeing the devastation of it. I mean, our school system needs close to $300 billion to make up for the tax loss that many of us are going to see in the coming year,” said Tlaib. She has joined a group of lawmakers requesting Congressional leaders include $305 billion for K-12 education in coronavirus relief legislation.
Tlaib criticized the scrutiny Congressional leaders have placed on Americans in deciding whether they should be given another round of stimulus checks.
“I hear them always saying that when it comes to my residents, and asking for stimulus payment, but they never question what are the billionaires doing with that tax break? What are they spending money on?” said Tlaib.
Tlaib represents the 13th Congressional district in Michigan, one of the poorest in the U.S. The median household income was $39,005 in 2019, well below the national average of $68,703, according to the Census Bureau. “I got elected because I said I would hold corporations accountable,” she said.
Tlaib has long criticized Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos and wants him and other billionaire CEOs to pay more in taxes by reversing Trump’s signature tax cuts.
Small businesses and residents in Michigan, Tlaib said, “are paying their fair share. They’re paying more than Jeff Bezos is. My small bakeries. My small restaurants are paying more than the richest man in the world. And they know that’s unfair.”
Amazon (AMZN) paid no U.S. federal income taxes in 2017 and 2018 (largely because of various tax credits and deductions) despite posting income of $3.03 billion and $10.07 billion for each of those years respectively. In 2019, Amazon paid roughly 1.2% or $162 million on $11.59 billion in income.
Tlaib says President-elect Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi share her goals, but not her sense of urgency. “I told this to President-elect Biden and Speaker Pelosi knows this. I tell them, never take what I’m trying to do personally. I’m on a different timeline,” she said.
Tlaib plans to continue to push: “This is not the time when they tell me wait,” she said. “There’s a sense of urgency that I think the American people are demanding of us. And in that regard, I think, well intended or not, telling us to wait until we find the money when we’re telling you exactly where to find the money and exactly how to pay for it. And I think you’ll see a majority of bipartisan folks outside of Congress supporting us in taxing those that haven’t paid their fair share.”
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