Pandemic Eviction

Yes, that is and thing and it is happening during a time where every single health authority and official, advice is to stay home. A growing number of people are being forced out of where they live because they can’t pay the rent.

Because being stressed about catching Covid-19 and losing your job is not enough, you have to be stressed about getting evicted and since that’s not hard enough on its own, you could be getting evicted during a pandemic too.

There is a new eviction ban being enacted through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal is to stem the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, which the agency says in its order “presents a historic threat to public health.”

Housing advocates and landlord groups both have been warning that millions of people could soon be put out of their homes through eviction if Congress does not do more to help renters and landlords and reinstate expanded unemployment benefits

“While an eviction moratorium is an essential step, it is a half-measure that extends a financial cliff for renters to fall off of when the moratorium expires and back rent is owed.” says Diane Yentel, CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Landlords are worried about falling off a cliff too. Doug Bibby is the president of the National Multifamily Housing Council. He says, “An eviction moratorium will ultimately harm the very people it aims to help by making it impossible for housing providers, particularly small owners, to meet their financial obligations and continue to provide shelter to their residents”

Evictions for reasons other than nonpayment of rent will be allowed. The government says it will impose criminal penalties on landlords who violate the ban.

The bottom line here is, we need legislation with funding that helps both renters and landlords, because when Covid-19 is over (and I sincerely hope it will be over, and becomes a thing of the pass at some point) the rent will be due, and you will either be a renter with a huge amount due, or a landlord with an empty property and with very few people able to afford a roof above their heads

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Will There Be A Second Stimulus Check?

Remember the second stimulus check?
It might never happen.

This is the one subject that has Americans glued to the news:

  • subreddit dedicated to discussions about stimulus checks has over 25,000 members.
  • And a Google search of “Second Stimulus Check” returns 190 million results.

The “skinny” deal’s total package of $650 billion was a noticeable mark down from the $1 trillion HEALS Act Republicans proposed in July and about a fifth of the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act the House of Representatives passed on May 15.

Both the Heroes Act passed by House Democrats and the HEALS Act introduced by Senate Republicans include a $1,200 Economic Impact Payment (EIP). President Trump favours stimulus payments.

The IRS could send payments quickly. When and if another stimulus check happens, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said it would take about a week to orchestrate the first payments. “I can get out 50 million payments really quickly. A lot of it into people’s direct accounts,” he said.

There were no second stimulus checks in August. There’s still chance they will go out in September (or what is left of it). Maybe a bill will be passed in September, with checks issued in October

One reasonable fact still remains: if a second stimulus package isn’t passed in September, with checks issued in October, our next best hope will be 2021.

Since the recent hearing with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, what is the current talk about stimulus?

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Standalone Unemployment Assistance Enough?

How far can these checks go for those out of a job?

More than 1 million Texans have applied for unemployment. Amber Bradshaw is among them.

She and the team she manages at a furniture store were furloughed late April. She expects to get $521 per week on unemployment, plus $600 per week in federal pandemic benefits.

Enough to cover her bills? “For me it is, and for my staff it will be also,” Bradshaw said.

Benefits vary widely, says Michele Evermore at the National Employment Law Project. “You see anything from $213 on average in Mississippi, to $555 in Massachusetts,” Evermore said.

The average nationwide is $370. Add that to the pandemic benefits and it totals $970, about the same as the average weekly pay of Americans nationwide.

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Legislative Impact of Coronavirus

California voters can enact their own laws outside of the state Legislature by putting initiatives up for a public vote. To qualify for the ballot, proposed laws must get signatures of at least 5% (623,212 signatures) of voters who cast ballots in the previous election for governor. Supporters say they collected 900,000 signatures.

Fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has delayed by two years what likely would have been one of the most expensive California ballot battles leading up to this November’s election, initiative supporters said Thursday.

The proposal would raise the limit for damages for pain and suffering in medical malpractice lawsuits from the $250,000 cap set in 1975, to now tie the cap to inflation, increasing it to about $1.2 million.

Proponents will delay the campaign until 2022 because of the uncertainty prompted by the pandemic, Jamie Court, president of the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, said in an emailed statement.

Two-thirds of voters in 2014 rejected a similar proposal after a coalition of medical groups raised nearly $60 million to defeat it. They argued that increasing lawsuit awards would have raised health care prices for everyone.

“Voters are overwhelmed with trying to keep their families safe and deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19” Consumer Watchdog board member Scott Olsen, said in a statement.

The cap is also being challenged as unconstitutional in an Alameda County Superior Court lawsuit.

Supporters say the cap disproportionately impacts people of color, citing a study from the Brookings Institute saying babies of well-educated Black mothers are more likely to die before their first birthday than babies of white mothers with less than a high school education.

“It’s unfortunate that while California’s health providers are courageously working on the front lines of this pandemic, a few opportunistic trial lawyers have remained focused on a ballot measure that would substantially increase the burden on California’s doctors and clinics while inflating health care costs for everyone,” said Lisa Maas, executive director of Californians Allied for Patient Protection, which opposes the measure.

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The Economy & The Election

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden laid out starkly divergent visions of how to dig the U.S. economy out of the deepest downturn since the Great Depression amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The goal of the next president will be to get back to full employment as fast as possible

  • Trump promised more cuts to taxes and regulations, and he dangled the prospect of additional tariffs against China; “We will go right after China,” Trump said. “We will not rely on them one bit. We’re taking our business out of China. We are bringing it home. We want our business to come home.” He added, “We will continue to reduce taxes and regulations at levels not seen before.”
  • Biden Biden vowed to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations and use the money to spend trillions to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure and shift to a clean-energy future, make housing and child care more affordable and improve education, among other proposals.
  • Trump In his nomination speech, he suggested he’ll propose cutting individual taxes but didn’t say which. Trump’s campaign has generally provided vague economic proposals that could be fleshed out later. The president, for example, vowed to create 10 million jobs in 10 months but didn’t specify how.
    Economist Chris Edwards of the libertarian Cato Institute says: “Trump will be better from a free-market perspective.”
    The Tax Foundation says it’s difficult to analyze the ideas without more details.
    Critics question the legality of a payroll tax cut that’s not approved by Congress.
    “Tax cuts provide a small economic bang for the buck, adding significantly to the nation’s debt load and providing little economic lift.“ said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics
  • Biden His administration would raise taxes and eliminate loopholes for individuals earning more than $400,000.
    Economist Nancy Vanden Houten of Oxford Economics says she supports the plan because it targets wealthy individuals who likely would save, rather than spend, their tax windfall, doing relatively little harm to the economy.
  • Trump is trusted more than Democratic nominee Joe Biden to handle the economy, polls show, even with more than 40 million Americans filing jobless claims and growth stalled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Biden, who has held online events from home during the shutdown, should be out in communities across the country demonstrating how to reopen businesses while following public health guidance. He needs to show what life is going to be like and how we are going to do it.
  • Trump has staked his political future on the economy, pushing a return to normal. An improving economy could play to Trump’s strengths, said Ian Sams, an adviser at Navigator, a polling organization.
  • A Biden adviser said re-opening should be dictated by public health concerns and that phased approaches being done by most states make sense. “From an economic standpoint, the worst-case scenario would be opening up and having to shut down again,” the adviser said.
    Economists see a recovery beginning in the third quarter, with job gains expected at more than 2 million, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia survey. But those forecasters still see a double-digit unemployment rate by the November election. “The unemployment rate will probably be falling relatively quickly later this year and next year, but it’s still going to be at a very high level,” the Biden adviser said.
    “It’s not that we don’t want to reopen the economy,” prominent Michigan Democrat, Vaughn Derderian, the chair of the Oakland County Democratic Party said. “We don’t know what it means to reopen the economy safely.”

A badly flagging economy of course works more to Biden’s political favor than Trump’s. But it’s also possible that the economy will simply matter less in this election than in past presidential contests.

The economy has gone into recession, unemployment is at 11.1%, and record numbers of new COVID-19 cases could substantially boost unemployment yet again. Come November, the economy could be a strong headwind for the incumbent president.

The election is determined on the margins, in other words. Plenty of people know how they’ll vote, regardless of their income or even whether they have a job on Election Day. But for those people in swing states without strong party affiliations, the economy could nudge their voting decisions one way or the other.

Bottom line,  the economy will play a determining factor in the election.

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Trump’s Eviction Executive Order

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Aug 8 that addressed eviction policy.

An eviction moratorium for properties linked to federal housing financing was included in the CARES Act, a major coronavirus relief bill. The moratorium expired in late July.

Trump’s executive order doesn’t extend the moratorium. Instead, it takes a softer approach by telling executive branch officials to think about possible solutions to evictions during the coronavirus pandemic and its related economic downturn.

As of Aug. 24, tens of millions of renters who were protected from eviction are no longer shielded against losing their homes for being late on rent payments.

Making matters worse, the weekly federal unemployment bonus of up to $400 that President Donald Trump ordered in August hasn’t yet kicked in, leaving nearly half of all US renters at risk of eviction in the coming months, according to an analysis by Statista.

Without new or renewed protections or financial safeguards like expanded unemployment or a second round of stimulus checks, as many as 40 million people could be displaced from their homes over the next year, according to the Aspen Institute — all during the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.

The order instructs the U.S. Treasury Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to identify funds that could potentially be used to help renters and homeowners who can’t make their housing payments because of the coronavirus.

In the meantime, renters can still be evicted and homeowners may still lose their homes. Over 30% of U.S. households had outstanding housing payments at the beginning of August, a recent survey from rental website Apartment List found.

Congress has allowed many of the financial provisions from the CARES Act to expire, including the federal eviction moratorium, as it struggles to reach a new deal.

Over 30 million people are out of work and about 19 to 23 million renters are at risk of eviction by October, according to the Covid-19 Eviction Defense Project, a coalition of economic researchers and legal experts.

When President Donald Trump signed an executive order on August 8 to shield tenants from the threat of eviction, he said it would “solve that problem largely, hopefully completely.”

It won’t work

Not only this action would fail to halt evictions, it wouldn’t do much of anything to immediately help the 20 million or so Americans who face the loss of their homes in the next few months amid the coronavirus crisis

“It’s nothing but a political ploy,” said House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who dismissed the “so-called executive order” as a stunt designed to deflect criticism from the president. “It means nothing.”

The order will “mislead renters into believing that they are protected when they are not,” National Low Income Housing Coalition President and CEO Diane Yentel said in a statement. “This executive order is reckless and harmful, offering false hope and risking increased confusion and chaos at a time when renters need assurance that they will not be kicked out of their homes during a pandemic,” she added.

Negotiations to renew both measures as part of the next relief package have broken down. The expiration of those benefits means somewhere between 19 million and 23 million people — about one in five renters in the U.S. — will be at risk of eviction by the end of next month, according to an analysis by the Aspen Institute.

Trump, questioned at his Tuesday 11th August press conference about the prospect of mass evictions, said, “We are not allowing that to happen.” “We are stopping evictions,” he added, referring to the executive order.

The House has passed two bills that would provide $100 billion to help tenants pay their rent, but the Senate has not moved on either piece of legislation.

Not Caving

Democrats slammed the GOP’s $500 billion stimulus plan on Wednesday, calling it “emaciated” since it would leave out aid to states and rental assistance.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on CNN that Democrats are not caving to Republicans

“There’s a good chance they feel the pressure once they see the Democrats are not going to fold to this emaciated bill, which leaves so much out,” he said. “The pressure will mount on them.” “The crisis and the pain of the American people in the pandemic get greater and greater, and Republicans keep thinking smaller and smaller,” Schumer said. “And the reason is very simple — there are 20 Republicans in the Senate who want no money, so McConnell had to, in a very cynical exercise, put together something that would check the box, but left out so much.

Democrats have long championed their $3.4 trillion economic relief package that the House passed in May. It included aid to states, a second round of direct payments, and $100 billion in rental assistance among other priorities.

After negotiations fell through, the White House moved ahead in early August with a series of executive orders to boost unemployment benefits and enact a controversial payroll tax holiday. It also recently enacted an eviction moratorium through the end of the year.

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Employer Assistance Coordination Act

Lets go over the details:

  • A bill to improve coordination between the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Employee Retention Tax Credit.
  • Under the Employer Assistance Coordination Act, an eligible small employer that received PPP assistance could use that funding to cover 8 weeks of payroll and other expenses.
  • After exhausting their PPP assistance, hardest-hit employers could claim the 50-percent ERTC for the first $10,000 in wages and health plan costs for each employee.
  • This bill is sponsored by Sen. Margaret “Maggie” Hassan, the junior senator from New Hampshire. Democrat.
  • It was introduced on July 22nd 2020.

This Act may be cited as the Employer Assistance Coordination Act and it is supported by:
• U.S. Chamber of Commerce
• National Federation of Independent Businesses

Trump Is Making Sure You Don’t Get A Stimulus Check

The President could not provide a stimulus check because it would have been unconstitutional. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Of California told CNN: “Well, the fact is, is that whether they’re legal or not takes time to figure out,” “I associate my remarks with what the Senator [Ben] Sasse, who says, they’re ‘unconstitutional slop.’ Right now, we want to address the needs of the American people. As my constitutional advisers tell me, they’re absurdly unconstitutional.”

But Republicans praised the president’s actions.

“I am glad that President Trump is proving that while Democrats use laid-off workers as political pawns, Republicans will actually look out for them,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Wall Street Journal reported

As pointed out by U.S Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland of the president actions: “The president is literally trying to steal away the powers that Congress has over spending and taxing.”

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) reminded Republicans about Herbert Hoover: “I would ask them to go back into the history books and look up and word: H-O-O-V-E-R, [who] after the crash said, don’t spend any money, and we had the Great Depression.”

The 10.2 percent unemployment rate “remains higher than at any point during the Great Financial Crisis and private sector economists believe it is likely to not be much lower on election day

Republicans are so attached to the donor class that they only care about donors and fear doing things that might not benefit them directly.

Flashback: American Workers, Families, and Employers Assistance Act

July 20: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) officially proposed the next stimulus bill, the American Workers, Families, and Employers Assistance Act, which includes a $1,200 stimulus check for individuals who earn up to $75,000.

Sounds familiar?

It’s because this is the same limit as the stimulus checks provided under the original CARES Act, passed in March that provided a $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit in addition to state unemployment benefits.

This new bill is broken into five titles that cover a wide range of emergency relief acts, including:

  • Expanded Federal Unemployment Benefits
  • Stimulus Checks & Job Creation
  • Healthcare Related Provisions
  • Additional Flexibility And Accountability For Coronavirus Relief Fund Payments And State Tax Certainty For Employees And Employers
  • and more

This new proposal will replace the federal unemployment benefit with a lower weekly rate.

  • Recipients would receive $600 per week ending on or before July 31, 2020
  • Then they would receive $200 per week through October 5th,
  • Starting in October, this payment would be replaced with a payment (up to $500) that, when combined with the state UI payment, would replace 70 percent of lost wages through December 31, 2020.

Some related bills:
S.3638 Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility Act
This bill allows Coronavirus Relief Fund payments to be used to replace state, tribal, or local government revenue shortfalls resulting from COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) during the period from March 1-December 31, 2020.

H.R.7615 To provide a payroll tax credit for certain expenses associated with protecting employees from COVID-19. This bill allows employers a payroll tax credit for 50% of the sum of qualified employee protection expenses, qualified workplace reconfiguration expenses, and qualified workplace technology expenses paid for each calendar quarter.