This week has seen a great upheaval in many of our lives. Social distancing is in full effect, public schools and places of business are closing. Jobs are being put on hold or lost, and people are beginning to see the struggle that lies ahead.
I hope this time of uncertainty and great challenge will be brief, but I know we will make it through this together.
As counties, states and the federal government spring into action, it is incumbent upon all of us to keep a watchful eye on both our liberty and our wallets. We don’t have an unlimited supply of either of those. They must be preserved while responding to any crisis.
In the past, times of crisis have been times of danger for both. We saw erosion of our liberty after 9/11 with the Patriot Act and expansion of FISA courts. We saw an erosion of our dollar and expansion of our debt with the bailouts after the 2008 Great Recession.
There is no doubt surrounding the severity of those crises, or of this one. The question is, how do we act with prudence to help those who will be truly in need? And how do we protect our nation’s future with an already burdensome $23 trillion debt?
I have already advocated for several commonsense proposals that would expand the availability of urgently needed items like masks and respirators. I’ve introduced legislation to speed the testing and production of drugs and vaccines.
What all of those above items have in common is burdensome regulations and bureaucracy, neither of which we can afford at this time. I want to slash the red tape and get more help and more of what our front-line medical professionals desperately need right now.
I also want to make sure Kentuckians and all Americans who are feeling economic hardship are helped. Unfortunately, the first wave of coronavirus spending was a laundry list of social programs long wanted by Democrats but rejected previously by anyone with any fiscal sanity. I couldn’t in good conscience vote for those. But as the second round is being considered I am proud to offer a list of things that are helpful, possible, and limited in time and scope to provide assistance to those who need it now.
First and foremost, we must enact a payroll tax holiday. The FICA tax is the largest tax most Americans pay. It is about 15%, split between employer and workers. I want to put a stop to that tax temporarily for BOTH business owner and worker, to help both during this time of struggle. That’s a huge boost to everyone’s paycheck and to our overall economy. It would let people keep over $200 billion of their OWN money over the next two months. It would start immediately.
Second, I want to ensure businesses are not forced into bankruptcy or closure due to new mandates, while also seeking to guarantee that every person who needs assistance is able to receive it. Instead of placing the burden of paid sick leave on businesses already struggling with the virus’ impact, I want to shift the burden to the federal government by expanding the unemployment system to cover the most severely affected and offer immediate leave for those who need it due to the coronavirus.
For those still working, up to 2 weeks would be paid for their own illness or to care for children. For those who lose their jobs due to the upheaval, it would provide IMMEDIATE unemployment benefits without a waiting period. It would also make self-employed workers eligible for unemployment insurance.
No one should have to worry about large tax payments right now, which is why I asked the IRS to extend the April 15th payment deadline to July 15th, something they’ve done this week. My plan would codify that into law. This would be for businesses too, so they could focus on staying open or reopening, not on tax filing and payments.
Finally, I want to encourage all of our well-capitalized banks and lenders to aid their customers at this time by deferring payments on loans, business and individual. From mortgages to car payments, from small business loans to large lines of credit for business operations, anything we can do to buy time is helpful here. To encourage this, I want to offer a tax credit of up to 3% of their corporate tax rate for lenders who postpone payment requirements for 60 days.
These are big ideas. They are bold, broad agenda items that will help those struggling, but without bailouts, without questionable long-term social policy changes, and without a trillion-dollar price tag. We should work together on these and other similar plans to slash regulations, return money to those who need it, help those who are struggling, and win both the battle against this pandemic, and also the battle to save our economy.