Cardin Seeks to Extend Relief Payments To Farmers, Ranchers and Self-employed
By LOGAN ARNESON
Capital News Service Washington Bureau
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, and a half dozen Democratic and Republican colleagues have proposed legislation that would allow farmers, ranchers and sole proprietors of businesses to apply retroactively for increased coronavirus relief payments.
The original Paycheck Protection Program signed into law on April 24, 2020, allocated $484 billion for forgivable loans to businesses to offset lost revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program was extended late last year and the Small Business Administration is offering loans through May 31.
Many small businesses were not able to take full advantage of previous PPP loans because the calculations were based on their net income, decreasing their benefits. The changes Cardin and his fellow senators are proposing would allow a recalculation of loans based on gross income, retroactive to March 27, 2020.
“The Biden administration has taken steps to make PPP more useful to farmers, ranchers, and sole proprietors, so making the changes retroactive is a matter of basic fairness,” Cardin said in a statement. “Congress must pass this bill as quickly as possible so eligible small businesses have time to secure the aid they need before PPP closes on May 31.”
Many of the senators co-sponsoring the bill represent states where farming is a major segment of their economies. Farmers and ranchers also stepped up during the pandemic to ensure food supplies were not interrupted, the lawmakers noted.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, said in a statement that “it’s important that we continue our work across party lines and pass this legislation now so our hard working farmers and small businesses have the support they need to get past this economic crisis and move forward.”
Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, said that many farm and ranch partnerships were not eligible to receive the benefits that came from changes the SBA made in December.
“When it comes to PPP, we must ensure no farmers or ranchers are left behind, and I am pleased to join my colleagues on this important legislation,” Marshall said.
Other co-sponsors include Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-New York, and chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, has introduced a similar bill in the House.
The American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation’s largest agriculture organization, has been pressing for changes to the PPP.
Before Cardin and the other senators proposed their bill, the Farm Bureau’s congressional relations director, Emily Buckman, said in March that the SBA “has been denying loans to self-employed farmers and ranchers who operate in a partnership, or as sole-owner LLCs.”
“In many ways, this denial has caused picking winners and losers among those who are self-employed,” Buckman said.
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Statement by President-Elect Lydia Pope on the Release of 1st Quarter 2021 Black Homeownership Rate
Lydia Pope, President-Elect, National Association of Real Estate Brokers
Washington (April 28, 2021)—The National Association of Black Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) cautiously accepted the 1% increase of the Black homeownership rate as issued by the U.S. Census Bureau in its first-quarter 2021 report. The 45% rate, up from the fourth quarter 2020 rate of 44.1% comes at a time when Blacks were more impacted by the negative health and economic consequences of the pandemic.
From a historic vantage point, Black homeownership continues to lag nearly 30 percentage points behind the first quarter 2021 non-Hispanic White homeownership rate of 73.8%, reflecting decades-old disparities serving to repress the expansion of Black homeownership and wealth creation.
While relieved that the measured homeownership rate did not retreat, I am mindful of continued high unemployment rates among Black Americans, skyrocketing home prices, low housing stock inventories, uneven lending practices, and the ever-present student debt burden as factors that adversely affect the growth of Black homeownership. There are variations in real estate markets at a local level and therefore some may be experiencing brisk activity despite the continuing national economic downturn.
NAREB remains committed to expanding opportunities for Black Americans to purchase a home of their choice. The association’s multi-pronged approach includes a focused advocacy strategy designed to support legislative measures like the American Dream Down Payment Act along with initiatives that reduce burdensome student debt preventing GenX-ers and Millennials from becoming homeowners. In addition, NAREB continues to help Black consumers learn about the wealth-building aspects of homeownership and the importance of financial preparedness even in the face of these uncertain economic times.
For more information visit: www.nareb.com
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To Be Equal: At Biden-Harris 100-Day Mark, America Is on the Move Again But the Road Ahead Is Long
“My fellow Americans, look, we have to come together to heal the soul of this nation ... We have the giant opportunity to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice, real justice … We have a real chance to root out systematic racism that plagues America and American lives in other ways. A chance to deliver real equity: good jobs, good schools, affordable housing, clean air, clean water, the ability to generate wealth and pass it down to generations because you have an access to purchase a house. Real opportunities in the lives of more Americans—Black, white, Latino, Asian-Americans, Native Americans.”
—President Joe Biden, address to a joint session of Congress, April 28, 2021
One hundred days into their administration, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have made surprisingly bold inroads in confronting racial injustice and the COVID-19 pandemic, but significant challenges remain.
President Biden and Vice President Harris entered the White House at a moment of unprecedented multiple crises, and they have risen to confront those crises with remarkable speed and effectiveness. With the help of Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, they have illuminated the systemic racial inequality that hinders our nation’s progress and set a course for healing.
Whether the nation can stay that course remains to be seen.
President Biden has been purposeful and intentional about including racial justice components in every policy he has undertaken in the first 100 days. He has used his moral voice to create a distinction between the poisonous philosophy of white supremacy and the idea of an America for everyone, an America of opportunity and pathways to progress for all people.
Importantly, he has changed the tone of governing, adopting a tone of inclusiveness that stands in stark contrast to the reality-show, finger-pointing, disparaging tone of the recent past.
The 100-day mark is something of an arbitrary and artificial deadline, but it has become part of our national political tradition since the administration of Franklin Roosevelt. It is an opportunity for the nation to engage in a substantive discussion about the direction of the presidency and the nation.
In a letter sent shortly after the election, I charged President Biden and Vice President Harris to produce an immediate and extensive COVID relief package. They responded with the American Rescue Plan, one of the largest anti-poverty measures in a generation. It has helped slash daily coronavirus infections by more than 70 percent while quadrupling the daily number of vaccinations.
President Biden has made it possible for Americans whose lives were upended by the pandemic at last to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The letter established a set of fundamental principles on racial justice and equity to guide Biden and Harris in the first 100 days and beyond.
I asked them to assemble an administration that reflects the diversity of America. They nominated and fought for confirmation of the most racially-diverse Cabinet in U.S. history.
I asked that they commit to fundamentally transforming the criminal justice system. They have restored the meaningful use of federal pattern or practice investigations, lifted restrictions on the use of consent decrees to hold police departments accountable for abuse, and ended federal contracts with private prisons.
I asked them to protect and defend voting rights. They have put the entire federal government to work in promoting and expanding access to voter registration and participation.
I asked them to work toward economic parity for African Americans. The day they were sworn into office, the very first executive order President Biden signed declared “… it is the policy of my Administration that the federal government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.”
I asked them to advance equity in educational opportunities for all American children. The administration’s unprecedented investment in Title I schools and higher education will help students recover from the learning loss experienced during the pandemic. Investment in free broadband and devices is expanding students’ access to digital learning in their homes.
I asked them to promote a healthier nation by prioritizing access to health care, including testing, treatments, and cures for COVID-19 in communities of color. More than 200 million Americans have been vaccinated, more than double the initial goal, including underserved communities. Tens of thousands more Americans have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and their premiums are lower.
As productive as the first 100 days have been, a tremendous amount of work remains to be done. President Biden and Vice President Harris must make good on their promise to invest in America, to build a middle-class, and to restore faith in our democracy. The American people need tangible results.”
Among the most pressing items remaining on the administration’s to-do list are:
• Passage of robust infrastructure proposals, the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, which includes long overdue investments in physical and human infrastructure, creating family-sustaining, middle-class jobs and securing the nation’s recovery from the pandemic.
• Police reform, beginning with enactment of a meaningful George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
• Protection of voting rights, beginning with enactment of the For the People Act and restoration of the full Voting Rights Act.
• Closing the gender pay gap beginning with enactment of the Paycheck Fairness Act.
• A $15 per hour minimum wage for all workers and elimination of the discriminatory tipped minimum wage.
The National Urban League’s full progress report on the Biden-Harris administration’s first 100 days can be found here: https://bit.ly/3aJQ8Wr
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ChildWatch: Hope for Millions of Children on the Horizon
President Biden’s April 28th address to a joint Congress called for an overdue investment in families and children with his American Families Plan. He listed many critical ways his previous American Rescue Plan has provided help already to millions of families. President Biden said the most important of all might be putting our nation on track to cut child poverty in half this year. The Children’s Defense Fund’s long cries in the wilderness to end child poverty are finally being heard! I hope all children have a chance to realize their God-given potential in a more just United States. President Biden’s plan will provide a huge step forward.
CDF has prepared an analysis of the American Families Plan which includes extensions of recent Child Tax Credit (CTC), Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) expansions; universal pre-kindergarten; access to two years of community college; more adequate investments in child care; an expansion of community eligibility for free meals to more children; and other critical supports families and workers need. President Biden would pay for these investments by eliminating some tax cuts for the rich, including raising the tax rate for the top one percent and ending capital income tax breaks and other tax loopholes.
The American Families Plan and the American Jobs Plan would lay the foundation for a stronger and more prosperous nation and I hope Congress will build on them to truly end child poverty and leave no child behind. Congress must make the full CTC expansion permanent and make additional investments in child care, housing, nutrition, and more. Addressing our nation, President Biden said: “America is rising anew, choosing hope over fear, truth over lies, and light over darkness.” Our nation’s millions of poor children desperately need that hope and light far too long denied. I thank President Biden for his leadership.
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