VIDEO: Portman Highlights Benefits of New CARES Act Rescue Package

March 27, 2020 | Portman Difference

Today, Senator Portman released a video discussing the CARES Act rescue package and how it will benefit Ohioans affected by the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.  

Specifically, this rescue package includes billions in emergency funding to support U.S. hospitals and health care providers, provides additional funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to put in place more testing and to better collect data to track the virus, provides a significant increase in unemployment insurance benefits for workers who have been laid off, and authorizes loans to businesses, small and large, to help them stay afloat and keep their workers on their payrolls.  

A transcript can be found below and the video can be viewed here.

This is Senator Rob Portman. I wanted to talk to you a little bit today about whats happening in Washington, and how it affects you and your family. The night before last, the Senate passed legislation called the CARES Act, and just a few moments ago, that same legislation passed the House of Representatives. The president will sign it into law soon, and it helps us back here in Ohio in a lot of different ways, but Im going to focus on three. 

One, it helps small businesses in particular to keep their employees — we dont want people to be laid off, we want people to keep their work, keep their health care as long as possible. Second, it helps with regard to people who have lost their jobs, through no fault of their own, to provide some cushion a safety net. And third, it helps our health care system, because until we resolve the health care crisis, were not going to be resolving the economic crisis we found ourselves in. 

With regard to the first one, helping businesses keep their employees, it has a new program under the Small Business Administration. Its called the 7(a) program. If youre a small business owner or youre self-employed, check it out. Talk to your bank — your credit union, your savings and loan, whoever you bank with — they will have the information. But what it allows is for you to get a loan from these banks that is a low interest loan, but is forgiven altogether if you use it for payroll to keep people employed or, by the way, if you use it for utilities, or rent, or mortgage. This is very important, because, again, we want to keep people employed. Theres also a business retention credit, so its a credit that you would get, a tax credit, if you keep your employees. The combination of these I think is going to be very important to keep more people at work — keep them connected to work, where they get their health care typically, where they have their retirement plan, and as the economy picks up we want those people to be in place to be able to ensure we can have a really robust recovery. Theres also a program for all businesses — larger businesses as well — that provides a market rate loan program if you cant get a loan from your bank, thats called the Exchange Stabilization Fund, and you can check that out through the Federal Reserve or through the Treasury Department website.

Second, with regard to people who have lost their job through no fault of their own, there are a couple things that are very important to note. One, if youre out of work, youve lost your job, you can apply for unemployment benefits at a higher level than is currently possible. You also will be able to apply if you are self-employed or if you are an independent contractor, which you cant do now. So for that go to employment.ohio.gov — employment.ohio.gov — and check out how you can access the new unemployment benefits, that are enhanced benefits, for the next four months. Its a temporary program but one that helps people to be able to ensure they can make ends meet, make that car payment, make that house payment, make that rent payment, to be able to ensure that can take care of themselves and their family. 

“Also, and this is for all Americans, there will be a check thats going to come based on what you have reported to the IRS on your income, whether it is in your 2018 taxes, or if youve already filed, your 2019 taxes. These checks will be $1,200 for an individual making up to $75,000. If you make more than $75,000, have reported that to the IRS, up to $99,000, you also get a check, although it will be for a lesser amount. So again, $1,200 per person up to $75,000 reported income. 

For couples its increased to $2,400 per couple reported income, again 2018–2019, and higher than that, for those people making up to $198,000. So, check it out. Again this is an opportunity for everybody to get a check from Treasury. It will come probably directly into your account just as you would get a refund from the IRS — they have that information. Its also $500 per child on top of that. So these are, again, ways to help people just make ends meet right now, to be able to put food on the table, to be able to ensure that you can be able to pay that car payment, or pay that rent, or pay that mortgage.

Finally, and I think this is the most important part of this, there is a lot of help for the health care system. Our hospitals are under tremendous stress, as you know. This funding will help with regard to dealing with the coronavirus directly. This may be the most important part of the legislation, because until we solve the corona crisis, its gonna be very difficult for us to reopen businesses and get back to a normal life. There is funding there for the Centers for Disease Control to ensure that they can find an antiviral therapy as soon as possible. Think of Tamiflu that people take for flu — we need the same thing for the coronavirus thats safe, that works. 

Its also very important we have more testing. By having more testing well be able to better identify those who have tested positive and then trace back who theyve been in contact with, and be able to help stop the spread of this virus. But also, it will give us some information, some data to be able to have out there, so we know when weve begun to reverse this trend, so that we can reopen.

Until we have that information, and probably the best data point is how many new infections weve had every day, I think itll be hard for people to feel comfortable sending their kids back to school, or going back to restaurants, or going back to work. So Im very interested in making sure that part of the legislation works well — that the money gets down to the people who need it on the health care system to provide them with the protective gear they need, be sure and provide them with the ventilators and other equipment that they need, but also ensure we have more testing, so that we can know what kind of situation were in and be able to get out of this crisis, and get back to normal. And again, to have that antiviral medication is very important for a lot of people, to know that if they do get infected that theyll be able to reduce the severity of the illness.

Thank you so much for listening, and please be safe. Follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control — CDC, check them out online — and also from the Ohio Department of Health. The social distancing, taking very common-sense steps —washing your hands, making sure youre using hand sanitizer where you cant do that — these are all working. Were beginning in Ohio I think to make some progress against this virus because of it — we need to keep doing that.

If you have any questions about what Ive talked about today or other aspects of this legislation, because its a big bill, almost two trillion dollars, and very complicated, let us know if we can be helpful. You can contact us at portman.senate.gov. Thank you very much for listening and be safe. 

Godspeed.

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