The country may be politically united – somewhat at least – when it comes to fighting the coronavirus, but unity in these bipartisan times goes only so far.
One got an understanding of that Wednesday morning during a conference call with Rep. Frank Pallone.
Pallone highlighted legislation already passed by the Democratic-controlled House to provide funding for testing and to help those who need sick time and family leave. The second of these bills
is still pending with the Senate.
But then we come to a third bill, which would be a stimulus package.
There may be agreement among all in Washington – the House, the Republican Senate and the president – that stimulus is needed. But don’t be surprised if trying to do that sparks a political dispute.
The president on Tuesday hinted at help for the struggling airline and travel industry.
O.K. But who should be helped?
“We have to be careful that we are not just putting money into the hands of the stockholders,” Pallone said.
As for House Democrats in general, Pallone said, “We clearly lean on the side of helping working people directly.”
There is some overlap here.
Drifting a bit far afield, Pallone talked about the auto industry.
Noting that cars are no longer made in New Jersey, the congressman acknowledged that some assistance for the industry may be needed to help workers.
But in general, it was clear that Pallone and presumably his fellow Democrats want to make sure any stimulus package is not a hand-out to corporations. So get ready for a partisan debate.
The president also has talked about suspending the payroll tax, which is money taken out of paychecks for Medicare and Social Security.
This idea seems to be going no where. Some economists say cutting the payroll tax would do little good because it’s not all that much money to begin with.
Pallone concurs. And he added this morning, “If you’re laid off, you’re not paying the payroll tax.”
A sobering observation amid fears – if not the likelihood – the nation’s unemployment rate is about to rise.