Former U.S. Rep. David Young said Wednesday that Congress should consider step-by-step actions on a new stimulus package to help Americans and businesses weather pandemic-related financial stresses.
Congress and President Donald Trump have been deadlocked on a new round of aid, which could cost as much as several trillion dollars. Trump is scheduled to speak in Des Moines Wednesday evening.
“They have talked about a big number out there,” Young, a Republican from Van Meter, told the Greater Des Moines Partnership via Zoom. “I think it’s better to go with a really tailored approach to what the needs are in America. And then, if that’s not enough, you can build on it so making sure that we get our businesses up and running again particularly our small businesses. As you know, they’ve been hit particularly hard.”
Young said a key for Congress would be to keep small businesses running. “We should have that (Paycheck Protection Program) funding in there, and flexibility because not all businesses are structured the same. And make sure it’s tailored to businesses, so that they can become whole again and get their employees hired again and have that unemployment help.”
Lawmakers should design programs that encourage workers to return to the job, Young said. “Don’t do it in a way that disincentivizes work because we need to get people back to work. I believe people want to get back to work.”
The nation’s plan to cope with coronavirus also needs to help working parents, Young said.
“We need to make sure we have help for child care,” Young said. “You know, the federal government needs to help catch up on that because the private sector has led the way on that and many states have as well, to make sure there’s some kind of help for child care.”
Young said he would like to see tax credits for child care expenses, and incentives to encourage companies to add child care centers at their facilities.
Congress also needs to make sure the nation has enough personal protective equipment — masks, gloves, respirators — for the staffs of hospitals, clinics, schools, nursing homes, and emergency crews, he said. Young added that the United States needs to beef up manufacturing of those items, as well as some medicines, so it doesn’t have to rely heavily on China for supplies.
Young has consistently called for liability protections for businesses related to the coronavirus pandemic. He repeated that stance Wednesday.
“There’s a lot of folks out there who are champing at the bit to try to find a way to sue some kind of industry or company because of somebody getting COVID-19,” Young said. “If you are negligent, that’s one thing. But if you’re taking all the precautions that you need and are directed to do, you shouldn’t be a target of those lawyers trying to get a lawsuit on the books and get a monetary gain out of that.”
In response to a questions about possible legislation to help small businesses, Young said state and federal governments forced businesses to limit their hours or close temporarily, and they need to help them recover.
“These industries have been hit hard because of government actions at the federal or state level that shuttered them or made recommendations or guidelines to hinder their business,” Young said. “I believe the government needs to make them whole.
“This not because these companies, these businesses, did anything wrong on their own, and are just looking for a handout or some kind of a bailout because of a bad business decision,” Young said. “This is so unprecedented.”