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March 25, 2020

Stimulate This, Democrats

Note: I wrote this yesterday.

If we're going to do this stimulus thing, then we should just do it, and Trump should use the power of the bully pulpit to back Congress into the corner. Trump should hold a prime time address to the nation, during which he should cover the following:

#1 What we're doing and why. Explain how social distancing slows the spread of a disease. Use visual aids. I saw a gif the other day that was very effective at illustration this. First it showed a typical 1 person infects 2 others progression, then it broke the chain at just a few points – and the total number of cases was halved. People are visual learners, that one gif more effectively illustrated the point than a dozen speeches could.

#2 Update the country on where we are. Tell them that (as of this writing) less than 700 people have died nationwide, and almost half (314) of those are in just 4 states (NY, NJ, La and Wa). Emphasize how he's working with the governors of those hotspot states to contain the problem.

#3 Reiterate the temporary nature of the current restrictions and closings, and that the focus of his administration is to return things to normal as soon as humanly possible, without endangering large numbers of vulnerable people.

#4 In recognition of the economic impact these measures are causing, call on Congress to send him 2 bills. Demand clean bills. Hell, if I was the President, I'd say flat out “If these bills come to my desk larded up with provisions for card check union elections or money to restart production of the F-22, I will veto them AND I'll tell the public exactly why. This is not the time for business as usual and pork as far as the eye can see. Ladies and gentlemen, we here in Washington need to remember that we work for the people of the United States, and in times of crisis they have every right to demand that we do just that, and not to engage in petty partisan political bullshit”. If you're going to throw down a gauntlet, you might as well throw down an iron one.

#5 Bill number one will provide for an immediate payment of $1000 from the federal government to every man woman and child in America. A website will be set up where people can claim their bailouts. These payments will be made on the first of the month by either direct deposit or prepaid debit card (you choose) for the months of April, May and June ONLY. I will sign no bill that provides for payments beyond the month of June. If this emergency situation continues beyond the month of June, Congress will have to draft separate legislation to deal with the long term impact of the Wuhan Flu. This money will be reported on (new 1099 form whatever), when filing your 2020 taxes if your AGI (exclusive of this one time bailout) is less than 100K (200K for married filing jointly), this money will not count as taxable income. If your AGI is greater than those amounts, it must be repaid in full.

#6 Bill number 2 will provide relief for the small businesses if America. Any small business (less than 50 employees) which was forced to close or limit operations because of quarantine orders may apply to receive a relief check equal to 3 months average operating expenses (rent, equipment, payroll, etc – basically anything taken as a write off on a schedule C or equivalent form). These averages shall be determined by operating expenses from the months of December, January and February ( or April, May and June of 2019 at the business owner's discretion – a seasonal business may choose that option). These relief payments are contingent on the business remaining viable – IOW continuing to meet payroll, pay their rent, etc..Any business that limited operations (for example a restaurant that stopped dine in but continued carry out service) is entitled to this relief proportional to the reduction in business. The objective here is to keep the business afloat while they are close so that they can just open their doors again when this is over.

#7 The speech should conclude with the usual “all in it together”, “Nothing to fear but fear itself” boilerplate that's been a staple of presidential speech forever.

Look, I'm not saying that a bailout is the best idea. I'm not saying it isn't. But it certainly looks like there's one coming, and Trump should get out in front of it, set the parameters, and pin the onus on getting it done on Congress, and do it in such a way that makes Congress the bad guy if they try to play their usual little reindeer games.

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posted by WeirdDave at 04:15 PM

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