Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

D.C. remains deadlocked on the next stimulus package, days after extended unemployment benefits ended and days before PPP is set to expire.

Where it stands: One unresolved issue that hasn't gotten enough attention is a proposed expansion of the employee retention credit, which could have a significant impact for companies that have experienced severe revenue declines.

The backdrop: The CARES Act established the initial version, a refundable payroll tax credit that could cover up to $5,000 per employee, for businesses that had suffered at least 50% revenue loss.

  • Caveat #1: If a company received a PPP loan, it wasn't eligible.
  • Caveat #2: If a company had more than 100 employees who remained working full time, including remotely, it wasn't eligible.
  • Caveat conclusion: For most companies, this credit wasn't too valuable.

What's new: Both new stimulus plans — HEROES Act (D), HEALS Act (R) — are much more generous.

  • HEROES increases the credit to up to $36k per employee (or up to 80% of wages paid per retained employee), with sliding-scale revenue eligibility for companies with revenue drop of between 10% and 50%. It increases the limit on working employees to 1,500.
  • HEALS increases the credit to up to $30k per employee (or up to 65% of wages paid per retained employee), with the revenue decline threshold cut to 25%. It increases the limit on working employees to 500.
  • Neither proposal restricts companies that received PPP loans, although they're silent on companies that participate in a possible PPP extension.

The bottom line: There are still partisan differences, but both sides are moving in the same direction on this, which suggests more flexibility than on thornier issues like school funding and liability protections.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Sep 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

Small businesses are losing confidence in their survival

Data: Goldman Sachs; Chart: Axios Visuals

Small businesses have largely exhausted their federal funding and are starting to lay off workers, with many worrying about having to shut their doors for good, according to a new survey from Goldman Sachs provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: Business still has not returned to normal, six months after the coronavirus pandemic first appeared in U.S. But small firms say the money they received from the Paycheck Protection Program has run dry.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
36 mins ago - Sports

Less travel is causing the NBA to see better basketball

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In addition to keeping out the coronavirus, the NBA bubble has also delivered a stellar on-court product, with crisp, entertaining play night in and night out.

Why it matters: General managers, athletic trainers and league officials believe the lack of travel is a driving force behind the high quality of play — an observation that could lead to scheduling changes for next season and beyond.

Senate Republicans release report on Biden-Ukraine investigation with rehashed information

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Senate Republicans, led by Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), on Wednesday released an interim report on their probe into Joe Biden and his son's dealings in Ukraine.

Why it matters: The report's rushed release ahead of the presidential election is certainly timed to damage Biden, amplifying bipartisan concern that the investigation was meant to target the former vice president's electoral chances.

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