Mar 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

White House proposes $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus package

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The White House is asking Congress for a $1 trillion coronavirus relief and economic stimulus plan that would include industry-specific bailouts and payments to individual taxpayers.

The big picture: This is more than the $900 billion that the U.S. government initially committed to bailouts in the 2008 financial crisis.

The proposal, penned by the Treasury Department, includes:

  • Payouts to individual Americans: $500 billion.
    • This would be done via two separate checks of equal amounts, one on April 6 and one on May 18.
    • The specific dollar amounts would be means-tested, meaning it would be based on income level and family size.
    • Each round of payments would be identical in amount, per the Treasury.
  • Airline industry bailout: $50 billion.
    • This would take the form of secured loans to passenger and cargo air carriers, with the Treasury to set interest rates and other terms.
    • Limits would be placed on executive pay increases until the loans were repaid.
  • Other affected industries bailout: $150 billion.
    • Secured loans or loan guarantees would be extended to "other critical sectors of the U.S. economy experiencing severe financial distress due to the COVID-19 outbreak."
    • Among the sectors raising their hands for bailouts, largely or wholly for the purpose of paying workers: Hotels ($150 billion requested), casinos, cruise line operators and shopping mall operators.
  • Small business interruption loans: $300 billion.
    • Employers with 500 employees or fewer would be eligible, and would have to keep paying all their workers for eight weeks from the date of the loan.
    • The government would guarantee 100% of six weeks of payroll, capped at $1,540 per week per employee, with the Treasury to set interest rates and other terms.

Historical comparison: The amount budgeted in 2008 for TARP — the Troubled Asset Relief Program — was $700 billion. The money was aimed at bailing out big banks and auto companies. The same year, the government designated $200 billion to rescue Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant mortgage enterprises.

  • In actuality, far less than the total $900 billion was spent.
  • By the time the programs were declared ended in 2014, the government had actually turned a profit on those bailouts.
  • According to ProPublica's Bailout Tracker, a total of $634 billion was spent on TARP and the Fannie and Freddie bailouts: "Money has been coming back in two ways: $390B of principal has been repaid, and the Treasury has collected revenue from its investments of $364B. ... In total, the government has realized a $121B profit as of January 31, 2020."

The bottom line: While there were big moral and ethical implications to the rescue of the banking and auto industries — which were seen as having largely caused their own problems — many of the companies that are currently foundering are blameless for their predicament.

  • This will make it easier for the public to support sweeping federal appropriations.
  • Public support will be public important if the coronavirus emergency drags on and forces even more federal expenditures and guarantees.

Read the proposal.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 5,614,458 — Total deaths: 350,958 — Total recoveries — 2,307,510Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 1,681,418 — Total deaths: 98,929 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Federal response: DOJ investigates meatpacking industry over soaring beef pricesMike Pence's press secretary returns to work.
  4. Congress: House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting.
  5. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets about mail-in voting for first timeGoogle to open offices July 6 for 10% of workers.
  6. Public health: Coronavirus antibodies could give "short-term immunity," CDC says, but more data is neededCDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the virus.
  7. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced plans Tuesday to make wearing face coverings mandatory statewide for most people over the age of 10 when inside public places. The measure is effective Friday and applies to places like retailers, on public transportation and government buildings.

By the numbers: More than 98,900 people have died from the novel coronavirus and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 384,900 Americans have recovered and more than 14.9 million tests have been conducted.

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Why it matters: The effort, made possible by a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration to Novant Health, is the nation's longest-range drone delivery operation and could demonstrate how drones could be used in future pandemics, Zipline officials said.