Who wins in the Senate GOP’s big bailout


Senate Democrats have introduced their own $750 billion proposal, and House Democrats are working to craft their version of a massive measure to shore up the economy, stressing that the package should include tens of billions of dollars in additional emergency money for federal agencies, as well as state and local governments.

Here’s who would benefit from the Senate GOP plan:

U.S. Airlines: $58 Billion

The bill would provide the battered industry with $58 billion in loans and loan guarantees, plus a holiday from paying fuel tax. Passenger air carriers could borrow up to a total of $50 billion, and cargo air carriers would get up to $8 billion. Those loans would come with some strings, including limits on compensation for executives. But Democrats had sought additional restrictions, like rules against stock buybacks.

While the total should satisfy airlines, the industry had wanted half to be grants, rather than loans.

Small Businesses: $300 Billion

A pot of $300 billion would be devoted to pumping cash to small businesses in the form of “loans” employers wouldn’t have to pay back as long as they maintain their payrolls during the emergency. Those rules would be retroactive to March 1, to entice employers to rehire workers who have already been laid off this month. While no business could receive more than $10 million, the size of each loan would be calculated based on a business’ average expenses from last year, including payroll, mortgage payments and debt obligations.

Small businesses would also be allowed to use existing SBA loans for costs that aren’t usually covered, like paid sick leave, salaries, mortgage payments and supply chain disruptions. The maximum amount a business could get in so-called “express loans” would increase from $350,000 to $1 million.

Hospitals: Not The $100 Billion They Wanted

Hospitals bracing for a wave of coronavirus cases in the coming weeks would get some temporary relief from Medicare cuts that have shrunk payments by 2 percent under the safety net program that covers health care costs for older Americans. Providers would also get a 15 percent Medicare payment bump for coronavirus patients.

The provisions would likely send billions of dollars to hospitals, although they fall far short of the $100 billion the industry is demanding.

Besides a boost for hospitals, the measure Republicans have pitched would help prop up the rest of the U.S. health care system as the virus rages, including sending more than $1.3 billion to community health centers, allowing labs to develop emergency tests and forcing insurers to cover vaccines.

Retailers, Restaurants and Hotels: $15 Billion

The measure would fix a mistake in the 2017 tax law that keeps restaurants, hotels and stores from immediately writing off certain renovation costs.

The National Retail Federation estimates the change would return up to $15 billion a year to the three industries, which are among the hardest hit as people stay home because of the coronavirus and officials curtail or shutter those businesses altogether.

Taxpayers: Direct Payments

Most American adults would get checks of up to $1,200, plus $500 for every child. But people who made more than $99,000 in 2018 would get zilch, as well as couples who file joint tax returns and make a total of more than $198,000 a year.

Businesses in General: Tax Relief

As businesses clamor for liquidity amid mounting layoffs and decreased demand for services, the Senate bill would free up cash through a host of tax relief provisions.

Social Security taxes would be on pause for employers for the rest of the year, but they would have to pay back that money in 2021 and 2022. Employers could apply recent operating losses to previous tax years, get quicker refunds and deduct more from the interest paid on their debt.

Faster reimbursements would go out to business owners forced to give workers paid time off during the outbreak. Instead of making employers wait to receive tax credits, they would be able to deduct anticipated credits from their normal filings or get a direct credit in advance.

Student Loans: Debt Relief

The bill provides some relief for students receiving financial aid. Students would not have to repay their student loans or Pell Grants if they drop out in the middle of the semester because of the coronavirus. Colleges would also be allowed to continue to pay students under the Federal Work-Study program if they are unable to work because their employer closed due to the outbreak.