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Column: The coronavirus bill is a big step toward stimulus that helps you, not corporate bigwigs

Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

--Still missing: There's reason for concern that the provisions for household assistance -- that is, the bailout of ordinary Americans -- won't be enough to get millions of people through the ongoing crisis.

The stimulus deal provides for loan forgiveness for businesses, but none for households facing unrelenting pressure to pay their mortgages, rent bills, and other bills while their income is slashed or cut off completely.

As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., put it, what's needed by many families is a mortgage and rent moratorium, at least for the duration.

"There's not much that a small thousand dollars can do for a family," she said, "if they are out of work and still need to pay rent, student loans, major consumer loans, a mortgage, etc."

Also missing is a federally mandated enhancement of paid sick leave for American families. The first coronavirus bill, signed by President Trump on March 18, included sick leave benefits for employees at small to medium-sized firms forced to leave work because of the coronavirus.

But as my colleague Jim Peltz reports, it left uncovered as many as 20 million workers by exempting employers of 500 workers or more and allowing small businesses to seek hardship exemptions. Covered full-time workers would get up to two weeks of paid leave, and part-time workers would get a period of leave equal to the number of hours they work on average over a two-week period.

The payments would be capped at $511 a day for those who are sick with the virus or seeking care, and $200 a day for those caring for a sick family member or children.

 

That may not be enough to cover the period of the emergency, and certainly not enough to meet standards set by other developed countries, many of which provide for higher compensation over longer periods.

In other words, the battle to ensure that American workers can get through the pandemic is not over yet.

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