Patterico's Pontifications


Automatic BOOST to Communities (ABC) Act Introduced

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:11 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Hoo-boy, it’s official: we’re through the looking glass now:

The CARES Act provided many Americans with financial relief in the form of a $1,200 stimulus check. But as that program rolls out, it has become apparent to lawmakers that more financial assistance is needed. There are currently several proposals from various lawmakers that would provide Americans with ongoing financial support. You can learn more about current proposals here.

Now you can add the Automatic BOOST to Communities (ABC) Act proposal, which was introduced by Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA).

If approved, the ABC Act would provide every American with a BOOST debit card that is preloaded with $2,000. The card would be reloaded with $1,000 each month until one year after the end of the COVID-19 crisis.

The bill calls for the use of pre-paid debit cards to assist those who are unbanked or do not have access to check cashing services.

The authors of the bill want to help ensure that “no one is left behind”. As such, it proposes a $2,000 pre-paid debit card be provided to every American, including taxpayers, dependents, non-citizens, and individuals who do not have a bank account, social security number, or permanent address. It also includes Americans living abroad, permanent residents, undocumented individuals, and temporary visitors whose stay exceeds three months. Recipients of the debit cards can use the funds to make in-person and online purchases, as well as making cash withdrawals at ATMs.

And here’s how the federal government would pay for it:

The ABC Act would be funded directly from the Treasury with no additional debt issued by minting two $1 trillion platinum coins. Additional coins would be minted as needed. Title 31 of the U.S. Code gives the Treasury Secretary the authority to mint and issue platinum bullion coins (see 31 U.S.C. § 5112(k)).

Here we go:

This proposal also outlines the possibility of using the infrastructure behind the U.S. Debit Card system to create a “digital public currency wallet system,” or a digital currency based on the U.S. dollar.


California: No More Protests on State Property

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:53 am

[guest post by Dana]

After California protests last weekend, where residents rallied to have the state’s ongong stay-at-home restrictions lifted so that people could return to work, Gov. Newsom cautioned future protesters that, when exercising their right to speech, make sure to adhere to social distancing measures:

I just want to encourage people that when you practice your free speech — which I don’t [just] embrace, I celebrate — just do so safely. This virus knows no political ideology. It doesn’t know if you are Republican or Democrat, supporting the president, opposing the president, so practice physical distancing. Make sure that you are not infecting others. Even if you feel healthy and have no symptoms, you can spread this.

The worst mistake we can make is making a precipitous decision based on politics and frustration that puts peoples’ lives at risk and ultimately sets back the cause of economic growth and economic recovery.

On Monday, protesters at the state Capitol, ignored his directive:

As a result of the flagrant disregard of social distancing measures, permits will no longer be issued for events on state properties:

Following Monday’s protest at the state Capitol where demonstrators defied Gov. Gavin Newsom’s orders banning large gatherings, the California Highway Patrol says it will no longer issue permits for events at any state properties, including the Capitol.

“Permits are issued to provide safe environments for demonstrators to express their views,” the CHP said in a statement. “In this case, the permit for the convoy was issued with the understanding that the protest would be conducted in a manner consistent with the state’s public health guidance.

“That is not what occurred, and CHP will take this experience into account when considering permits for this or any other group.”

The ban on large public events in California “will remain in place until health officials decide it’s safe for people to gather in large groups given measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus”.

Protesters are now protesting the ban:

Stefanie Duncan Fetzer, an Orange County activist who helped plan the rally, said protesters are considering whether to file a lawsuit against the state, arguing the policy violates their right to freedom of speech.

“It’s unfortunate that the CHP has opted to violate their oath of office by violating the Constitution,” she said.

Duncan Fetzer said the group has an application “pending” for a May 1 protest at the Capitol. She added, “We’re not going to change our plans.”

While some groups organizing protests in California are urging protesters to remain in their vehicles during protests, and to follow recommended safety guildelines for wearing masks in public, too many are ignoring the directives.

There is no doubt that protesting Californians are truly frightened about what the future holds for them if they cannot return to work, hold onto their house or put food on the table. This is a horrible situation Americans at large find themselves in, through no fault of their own. But it’s unfortunate that, in their anger at the state and federal government, taking safety measures that help limit the rate of infection have been dismissed as an unwelcome intrusion, and nothing more than government overreach. Reasonable precautions that might benefit everyone have simply become too much of an ask. It’s as if there is a complete disconnect from the logical outcome of ignoring social distancing measures when in public: The rate of infection will increase, more people getting sick means less people working, and all of this will result in a necessary extension of the stay-at-home restrictions (until the infection rates slow). And unfortunately, for every reasonable concern, these protests are a magnet for conspiracy nuts : A protester on a mega phone is proposing to gather 10,000 people here at the Capitol for a month. “And if nobody gets sick we prove the coronavirus is a lie.”

P.S. From a CBS poll of 2,112 residents this week:

A CBS News poll published Thursday reports that 70 percent of respondents believe the country’s top priority should be to “try to slow the spread of coronavirus by keeping people home and social distancing, even if the economy is hurt in the short term.”

Only 30 percent think the top national priority should instead be to “try to get the economy going by sending people back to work, even if it means more people might be exposed to coronavirus.”


Ultra-Exclusive Fisher Island Seeks Federal Bailout Loan

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:13 am

[guest post by Dana]

On Fisher Island, the ultra-exclusive, members-only enclave off the coast of Miami, where the average income of the island’s residents is $2.2 million, and the median home value is $3 million, the Fisher Island Homeowners Association applied for a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was designed to help small businesses cover payroll costs and benefits during the COVID-19 crisis:

The homeowners’ association for Fisher Island…that recently bought enough COVID-19 antibody tests for all of its residents and employees, applied for a loan through the federal government’s massive stimulus program to bail out small businesses.

During its 5 p.m. scheduled meeting Wednesday, according to an agenda obtained by the Miami Herald, the association’s board of directors will vote on whether to accept a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, which is designed to help business owners pay their employees and weather the economic turmoil brought on by the novel coronavirus.

The agenda said the board would discuss and vote on approving the application and the execution of loan documents with Regions Bank.

It wasn’t immediately clear Tuesday why the Fisher Island Community Association — the master homeowners’ group for the wealthiest ZIP code in the United States — would need the loan, nor how much money the association sought.

Meanwhile, no employees on the island have been laid off:

Ana Tinsley, a spokeswoman for the union that represents 130 of the island’s workers, told the Herald that no one has been laid off and employees have been granted extra days of paid time off. “Honestly, no complaints,” she reportedly said.

With regard to the federal loans, Florida is doing better than other states:

Florida has fared relatively better than most states, hauling in 52,021 loans worth about $12.7 billion of the initial earmark, according to figures released this week by the SBA. That is third-most in both categories. A state-level industry breakdown is not yet available.

Among banks that lent out locally was First National Bank of South Miami, which said it had kept nearly 6,000 employees on payrolls thanks to $63.2 million in funded PPP loans. Flores said her team has worked 18-hour days for 27 days, and through weekends.

“With the funding depleted we are distraught and very depressed,” she said in an email. “There are so many more businesses that need assistance. It is a real shame that politics is getting in the way of providing additional funding immediately for this program for small businesses…These are very tough conversations with the many business clients that we could not assist.”

Still, many local businesses find themselves in limbo. Cristian Alvarez had been waiting more than a week to hear from his bank about whether he and his brother had been approved for an SBA loan for their Little Haiti Argentine restaurant, Fiorito.

Thursday morning, he read that all the funds had been depleted. He still has not heard from his bank. ”We’ve lost hope of getting any help,” he said. “If it arrives, it arrives.”

His restaurant of 25 employees is now down to five, including him and his brother. He has been hiring his former employees for an occasional shift of 6-8 hours, “just to put some money in their pockets. He’s behind $10,000 on his rent and is working with his landlord to delay or reduce that.

“The idea now is just to survive,” he said.


All Job Gains Since Great Recession Are Gone

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:21 am

More dismal news:

Another 4.4 million Americans filed for initial jobless claims last week, revealing that at least 26 million people have requested unemployment benefits since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

In just one month, all job gains since the Great Recession have disappeared, according to new data released Thursday by the Department of Labor. The economy had created around 22 million jobs since 2010, during a historic decade of economic expansion that came to an abrupt end in February.

“It is very easy with these numbers to get to 20 percent unemployment,” said David G. Blanchflower, a professor of economics at Dartmouth College.

It’s almost certainly worse than even these numbers reflect.

The good news is that coronavirus will likely be a thing of the past in 16 months or so. The bad news is that the economic dislocation from the response cannot rebound in a day, a week, a month, or a year.

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