Hazard Pay for Amazon Workers, Pelosi and Schumer Outraged at McConnell

This is the stimulus update for Monday, June 29th.

Schumer and Pelosi’s Letter

First thing I want to talk about is the letter that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer just wrote to Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, this morning.

This letter is dated June 29th, it’s a brief one-page letter.

Dear Leader McConnell,

It has been 45 days since the House of Representatives passed. The Heroes Act to help the American people through the public health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Senate Republicans have refused to take up the Heroes Act or any significant coronavirus legislation in the United States Senate during that time. Though Democrats have repeatedly requested to enter into bipartisan, bicameral negotiations on additional legislation with you, such conversations have not happened in over two months.

Meanwhile, the nation has seen a dramatic surge in both cases and deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Adding to that pain, our economy is facing one of its greatest challenges since the Great Depression. Over one-fifth of the workforce has requested unemployment assistance. Now is the time for action, not continued delays and political posturing.

Already, the consequences of that inaction have been dire. State and local are struggling to provide essential services and have laid off over 1.5 million workers. Our presently underfunded schools are fighting an uphill battle to prepare for the fall. A lack of federal resources may not allow them to safely reopen. As localities prepare for the 2020 general election and urge more federal resources to hold safe elections, President Trump and congressional Republicans have spread misinformation about voting by mail. As Americans struggle to make rent payments and face evictions and as our healthcare and childcare systems face unprecedented burdens, Senate Republicans have been missing in action at your direction.

Americans need and deserve bold action now. We have overcome larger problems than the COVID-19 pandemic, but not without powerful and effective actions by our government. We are outraged that instead of holding bipartisan, bicameral negotiations during the June work period, you chose to prioritize the confirmation of right wing judges and several Republican-led committees devoted precious time to chasing President Trump’s wild conspiracy theories. The House has acted. It is unacceptable that the Senate would take a recess without addressing this urgent issue. On behalf of the millions of American families who desperately needed congressional action, we demand you change your mind and decide to work with us for the good of the country.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter of great urgency to the American people.

Sincerely, 

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives

Charles E. Schumer, Democratic Leader, US Senate.

They’re basically really peeved at McConnell because there hasn’t been any stimulus talks yet. Nothing serious, anyway, that we can see.

Their position is, “Look, McConnell, we’ve done our part. Democrats have done our part with the Heroes Act.” Now that’s up for debate, of course, because I don’t think anyone even on the Democratic side actually thought that that bill had a chance in heck of passing the Senate.

So was it in good faith? Was it not? I think what they’re going for is, the Republicans are going to negotiate back on this. Well, Republicans haven’t even done them that pleasure. Right?

I think that many of you would agree with probably some of the things in this letter. Like I said last week, the June jobs report is coming out this Thursday. I think that that document will provide a lot of insights and probably shapes many opinions of Republican lawmakers with respect to the next Coronavirus relief bill.

Congress is set to leave DC this week. They’re out for two weeks for July 4th recess.

Stimulus Debit Cards Update

Last month, I told you that various House Democrats led by John Lewis, Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman, they wrote a letter to Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin as well as the IRS commissioner requesting a status update on the stimulus debit cards.

And Treasury got back to them. Here’s what they said about the debit card.

They said about 3.6 million EIP cards, so those are the stimulus debit cards have been issued, of which more than 73% have been activated.

However, as of June 17th, approximately 44,000 replacement cards have been requested, roughly 1% of all cards.

Instructions on how to request a replacement card are publicly available at eipcard.com.

Amazon Hazard Pay

Now let’s talk about the Amazon… the Amazon Hazard Pay is what I’m calling it.

Amazon said it would spend more than $500 million on one-time bonuses for employees and some contractors. These bonuses are for all frontline workers and partners with the company throughout June.

How much is this hazard pay?

Well, full-time employees at Amazon, Whole Foods, and drivers working through its contracted delivery program will receive $500 while those in part-time positions will receive $250.

Leaders at Amazon and Whole Foods will receive a $1,000 bonus while owners running contracted delivery service operations will get $3,000.

Amazon will also pay $150 to some drivers working through another one of the company’s initiatives.

So looks like Amazon is kind of doing his own little stimulus thing, Or at least they’re giving some kind of a hazard pay.

By the way, I have covered the Hazard Pay as proposed in the Heroes Act. I go into what professions qualify and how much it would be and all that stuff. I released that video shortly after the Heroes Act came out with the proposal.

Credit and Lending

Banks are being pretty tight-fisted when it comes to lending money these days.

Why?

Because they don’t trust people’s credit scores.

We know that many people have talked to their mortgage company, sometimes even their credit card company, and been able to pause their payments or that maybe some sort of small payment, but the point is many people have been pausing their mortgage payments and other large bills they have for a few months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now their credit score is generally unaffected in these situations.

On the one hand, you have someone who might have a pretty decent credit score and that would otherwise probably qualify them at least halfway to get a loan. But then, they haven’t made their mortgage payment in a few months because times are tight and they requested a temporary forbearance from the mortgage company.

Is this really a creditworthy borrower? Many banks are saying “No”, despite the fact that credit may still be good.

Just to get into some numbers here, an estimated 79,000 personal loans were extended in the weekend at May 10th compared with 226,000 in the week ended March 22nd.

Auto loan and lease originations fell to 266,000 from 390,000 during the same period.

General purpose credit card origination has totaled 483,000, down from 856,000. In 2019, weekly credit card originations rarely fell below 1.2 million.

All you can do really is just continue to work on that credit, so hopefully when times are better, you’ll be able to borrow the money that you need.

Whether that’s to buy a house or do whatever you want to do or buy a rental property, even better, whatever you want to do with that money.

COVID-19

Let’s talk about Remdesivir.

So today, Gilead Sciences announced its pricing plans for the COVID-19 drug, Remdesivir.

What is Remdesivir?

Now, not a doctor, not a physician or anything like that so I don’t want to get too deep here on this, but from my understanding, it is a drug that inhibits the replication of the COVID-19 virus.

So it’s generally administered to those who already have COVID-19.

It’s not a preventative thing. It’s supposedly somewhat curative.

So what’s the price tag on this?

Gilead said it will charge US hospitals $3,120 for a typical patient with commercial insurance. The government price will be $309 per dose or $2,340 per patient for the shortest treatment course and $4,290 for a longer treatment course.

Gilead is charging a higher price for patients with a private insurance and lower price for US government health programs like Medicare, et cetera. Currently, 90-95% of patients receive five-day treatment courses for Remdesivir.

I hope none of you need to take Remdesivir. I hope you all stay safe and sound.

If you are immunocompromised or if you have other risk factors, you’re probably safer at home. Let’s be honest, okay?

Hope none of you have to deal with this terrible virus.

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