Gary Cohn calls for relief for gig workers in coronavirus stimulus package
In this Jan. 23, 2018, file photo, White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, speaks to reporters during the daily press briefing in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, in Washington. Cohn is leaving the White House after breaking with President Donald Trump on trade policy. Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, has been the leading internal opponent to Trump's planned tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Gary Cohn
A current stimulus plan would leave out independent contractors.

Former Chief Economic Advisor to President Donald Trump, Gary Cohn is calling on Congress to provide relief for gig workers out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A $250 billion deal between Democrats and President Donald Trump’s administration is coming together that would amp up unemployment insurance, but that deal would not help independent contractors who are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

“Think of people that work at stadiums and arenas. Think of people that work in catering businesses. Think of Uber drivers and Lyft drivers. They need to get compensated as well,” Cohn said on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday. “What I would encourage in the legislation, hopefully this is in there, we go back to those companies that hired part time labor or hired labor as needed. And you go back and look at what you were paying them for the last month or the last two weeks and you go back and pay them that exact amount of money.”

“And those companies can actually go to the two facilities that were created, borrow that money and be relieved of that debt and compensate their people as well,” he continued.

Cohn explained Congress’ replacement income plan that seeks to keep people on the payroll with the companies where they already work, rather than have those employees be laid off and later have to find another job or reapply for their old jobs when the threat has subsided.

“Keep as many people employed and on companies’ payrolls as you can and allow them to keep living, allow them to buy their groceries, allow them to buy the drugs and medicine that they need to live their lifestyle, and simultaneously keep them on the books and records of companies. So when the economy does turn around, and it will turn around, people know where they work and they can go back to work immediately instead of going through the whole rehiring process,” Cohn said.

The bill has, as Cohn described, two parts. One piece addresses employees working for companies with 500 or fewer workers and another addresses larger companies.

“These are massive, and I mean massive, stimulus packages that are designed to allow companies to borrow money and the loans will be forgiven to keep their employees on the payroll. The people that applied for unemployment last week and that were terminated last week, they were terminated prior to these — this legislation existing,” Cohn said.

The latest proposal is in addition to other legislation currently being contemplated that would provide financial support for most Americans. The most recent version of that plan would give certain Americans up to $1,200 per adult in a household and $500 per child with levels reducing on household incomes of $75,000 or more and canceling out at six figures. Americans with no federal tax liability would receive a minimum of $600.

The deal is still being brokered as Democrats fear the provision for the lowest earners won’t cover their financial needs as many in low-wage jobs are losing jobs in the hardest hit industries like restaurants and hospitality.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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