[guest post by Dana]
Sen. Mitt Romney has introduced Patriot Pay to provide bonuses to frontline workers earning less that $90,000 for doing essential jobs:
Despite risks to their own health, America’s frontline workers have provided health care, transportation, food, and more essential services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As unemployment lines grow longer, these patriots continue to return to work the next day, some even making less money than they could on unemployment insurance. Congress should allow critical employers to provide Patriot Pay bonuses to frontline workers who earn under $90,000 in essential jobs through a refundable payroll tax credit. This form of hazard pay would complement, not replace, an employer’s responsibility to pay their workers—it is designed to quadruple any bonuses an employer gives to essential workers.
Here is how Patriot Pay would work:
For essential employees that make less than $50,000 annualized, employers would receive a 75% refundable payroll tax credit for a bonus up to $12 an hour.
• For essential employees making over $50,000 annualized, the tax credit phases out by $24 for every additional $500 in income until annualized incomes hit $90,000.
• The maximum tax credit is $1,440 per month, per employee, meaning a full-time worker would receive up to a $1,920 monthly bonus.
Qualifying for the plan:
Congress and the Department of Labor would designate critical industries including, but not limited to, hospitals, food distributors and processors, and health manufacturers.
• Eligible employers will certify that an employee worked in conditions that increased their potential COVID-19 exposure.
• Eligible employers would qualify for tax credits for employee bonuses provided between May 1 and July 31, 2020. Employees must work at least 100 hours each month they receive the bonus for their wages to be eligible for the tax credit.
Romney explained the goal of the plan:
Health care professionals, grocery store workers, food processors, and many others—the unsung patriots on the frontline of this pandemic—every day risk their safety for the health and well-being of our country, and they deserve our unwavering support. Patriot Pay is a way for us to reward our essential workers as they continue to keep Americans safe, healthy, and fed.
In March, Romney had pushed for a one-time $1,000 payment to every American as a way to help struggling families meet short-term financial obligations during the pandemic.